How can I Fix Drummy Tiles?

These are tiles, that as the name suggests are not properly stuck to a floor and when they are tapped with a key or coin they sound hollow underneath.

What Causes Tiles to Sound Drummy?

As said previously, the tiles are not adhered to the base and this can be due to a number of causes as follows;

With most project homes time is money, so the quicker a hand over can take place the better, but this can mean rushing the work such as tiling. The slab may still be, ’green’ when the tiles are laid, and this will mean that the adhesive may not adhere to the floor. In other cases the tiler may try to spread the adhesive thinly and fail to give a full bed of glue to the tiles against a wall or external doorway. Although the tiler will use, ”cruciforms”, to space the tile they may adjust the tiles to get a batter appearance but in doing so break the bond between the tile and the floor.      

How do I Fix the Problem?

It all depends how bad it is. Do you have spare tiles or can you purchase the same tiles? To remove the old one can be tricky but not impossible. You will need to remove the old grout either by grinding or cutting it out, then if the tile is really drummy it should lift out. Make sure you do not damage surrounding tiles. If you have any doubts about your ability to carry out the task then seek a professional tiler to do the work. As you can imagine it would not be cheap even for a single tile. You may be lucky and the tile may be clean enough to relay. The floor should be free of imperfections and edge grouting should be cleaned back so new grout can be used. Choose a good quality adhesive to relay the tile or tiles and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Centre the tile with an even joint all round and place the tile so the top surface is flush with the surrounding tiles. Once the adhesive has set you can replace the grout with a matching coloured grout. You will need to work the grout in and then using a dry sponge or cloth wipe away semi dried grout from the surface of the tile.

Please note: Even if the tile or tiles are drummy is it necessary to replace them. They may be no more than a nuisance and you may simply have to monitor the area to see if there is an increase in the area of the drummy tiles.

Suppliers will often hold brochures on tile laying and these may be of some help to you. You may also question suppliers or tilers on your particular situation.

The Homemasters Experience

Home Masters was called out to a job at Hallett Cove for a doctor who had been woken in the middle of the night by the sound of breaking glass. Thinking that someone was breaking in he went into the lounge and checked that all was well. He could see nothing so turned off the light and headed back to bed but at that point the sound returned and turning the light back on, then watched in horror as the tiles in the centre of the room rose up. I checked the floor at the point where the tiles had broken away from the slab and found it to be a low spot where the tiler had used a double layer of adhesive to keep the tiles level. This was a weakness but it did not explain why it had occurred.  I checked around the building to see if there was any slab movement but there was nothing. It occurred to me that the whole house had been tiled but found no evidence of a control joint in the tiles. I spoke to the owner and found out they had lived in the home for some 12 years without problems until now. I asked the question, have you done anything different recently, and the answer was no!

I was offered a drink and while I was sat there I happened to look up to see what appeared to be new air conditioning ducts in the ceiling. On enquiring I found out that they had installed reverse cycle air conditioning 2 weeks earlier. It was run at night on 25 degrees celcius and the slab would have been 14 degrees celcius. That is it I cried! The surface of the tiles expanded while the slab remained static and with no control joints the tiles had nowhere to go but the point where the tiles had a weak spot, they lifted. I contacted a local tiler who provided control joints to alleviate the expansion problem. The problem was solved and did not return. Drummy tiles is something we check during a pre-purchase inspection and the new purchaser will be made fully aware of any current issues.