We're often asked by customers if we can guarantee our Stickit Tile Repair Kit will repair their loose tiles. Unfortunately there isn’t a simple yes or no answer – you really need to look at the circumstances of each situation. We’re not in the business of selling a product that won’t work, so we’d like to outline a few things to consider
Floor or wall tiles can loose adhesion for a number of reasons. The most common reasons are poor quality workmanship when laying the tiles, water damage, and expansion/contraction or structural movement in the substrate.
The tiler is most often blamed for the problem, but tiles going drummy can be outside their control – especially if there is movement in the concrete or substrate. Laying tiles when the adhesive is too dry is probably the most common preventable cause of loose tiles and this often presents as a smaller isolated area of tiles that has become loose. If the tiler mixes a large batch of adhesive, the first tiles laid will normally be fine, but as times passes the adhesive loses moisture and rather than mix a new batch of adhesive the tiles are laid on an adhesive with insufficient moisture to properly bond the tiles. Most tiles adhesives are primarily cement based and adhesion relies on the migration of cement files from the adhesive through into the substrate to create a bond – this migration can’t occur unless the adhesive is sufficiently hydrated. This problem is more common on outdoor areas or large areas where the sun and hot winds can dry out the adhesive before all the tiles are laid. It can also be a problem with wall tiles where the tiler will use less water in the adhesive to make a stiffer/drier mix so wall tiles can be packed out on a thicker bed of adhesive. Our experience is that Stickit will repair these loose tiles.
Water damage is more of a problem. If the loose tile is located in a laundry or kitchen it may be a water leak from a washing machine or dishwasher has caused a single tile or a number of tiles to lose adhesion. Hot water spilt from a pot or kettle is a big problem for tiles as it both heats the tile causing rapid expansion and also wets out the substrate – placing a lot of strain on the adhesive bond. If the leak was a one off event and the area is normally dry then repair with Stickit is typically successful. If the area is normally wet such as a shower tray, they we would not suggest Stickit be used – it is a water based adhesive and will not cure if the area is permanently wet and cannot be dried out. If you can force the area to dry by using a heater or fan before injecting Stickit the adhesive is more likely to cure and successfully re-bond the tiles.
Structural movement and expansion or contraction of the concrete or subfloor will often cause large areas of tiles to lose adhesion. When setting out a job the tiler should allow for expansion or contraction and provide expansion joints in tiled areas – this is critical where tiles cover two different substrates which will move independently such as cement sheeting and a concrete slab. Where no allowance has been made for expansion or there is a large movement in the substrate pressure can cause a number of tiles to lose adhesion. In these situations it may be necessary to remove a grout line and replace with a flexible sealant to accommodate future movement. Stickit Tile repair adhesive should successfully repair tiles de-bonded as a result of structural movement and will provide a strong and flexible bond.
While most modern tile adhesives contain flexible polymers, traditional tiling methods typically involved the use of cement only to bond tiles. Cement has excellent compressive and tensile strength but has poor adhesion and almost no flexibility. It is not uncommon for large areas of tiles to lose adhesion where they have been laid with cement, and often this is with older homes and buildings where replacement tiles are no longer available. Changes in temperature, humidity or movement in the substrate can cause this large scale loss of adhesion but often there is no clearly identifiable cause. Stickit is usually very successful in repairing older tiles as they are mostly porous underneath and have been laid on a cement base, which the Stickit adhesive can easily wet out, travel through and then cure.
The key consideration when assessing the suitability of Stickit for repair of loose tiles is making sure the adhesive can dry and cure. If the adhesive can cure it will repair loose tiles. As noted above we are aware of the following situations where Stickit may not be able to cure,
1.Where the substrate is wet and cannot be dried out, (eg shower tray)
2.Where there is a large gap under the tiles eg >5mm gap (grout line/s may need to be removed to allow the tiles to sit flat again on the substrate)
3.Where at least one of the surfaces is not porous (eg a slate or stone tile laid directly on a waterproof membrane)
4.Very low or freezing temperatures (once cured freezing is OK but the adhesive must cure before freezing)
Our experience and the feedback from our customers tells us that in most cases Stickit Tile Repair Kit is a simple and effective solution to repairing loose tiles. The recent introduction of our Stickit Mini Kit will allow those sceptics to inexpensively trial repair on a single tile or small area before committing to larger scale repair.