What Causes Loose Ceramic Wall Tile?

Wall tiles become loose when water seeps through broken grout lines  that usually are installed over sheetrock. The solution is to replace the tile and backer board. Contractors either float concrete walls, use a cement based backer board,  Hardiebacker or claim to use (greenboard) waterproof sheetrock.  Waterproof sheetrock does not exist. The correct term is moisture resistant sheetrock (M.R.sheetrock). Gypsum is not waterproof. The green paper on M.R. sheetrock makes it resistant to moisture. Grout absorbs moisture. Cracks in the grout absorb water. Water absorbs into the sheetrock like a wet sponge, eventually making the sheetrock fall apart.
Cement based backer board (Wonderboard, Glasscrete, etc) is composed of a light weight cement material, half inch thick with a fiberglass mesh on each side. If water penetrates cracked or missing grout, the board absorbs the water without falling apart. If tile loosens up and falls off the wall, the adhesive can be scraped off the board; Apply new adhesive to the tile and place it back on the board.

Houses are constantly in motion, continually expanding and contracting with the forces of nature. Some houses are more stable than others. An easy way to tell how stable your house is by looking at your ceramic tile wall and floor seams. A seam is where a tile wall meets another wall, tiles meet the tub, tiles meet the floor, or any wall adjacent to the tiled surface.

Another way to spot movement is to look outside your house looking for cracks in your concrete driveway if you have one. Even better, look for cracks or separation between concrete steps that lead to your front door, side door etc. If your house has red brick around it look for cracks and loose mortar. The point is that whatever is happening outside your home is surely going to be happening inside your home in areas such as your kitchen where the back splash meets the counter, cracks in the ceiling or anywhere that walls join, and of course in your shower where the tile wall meets the floor.

Expansion and contraction of your walls and floor place stress on seams causing grout to crack. Grout will sometimes crack in random areas due to stress created by the wall studs or backer board seams (where sheetrock joins other sheetrock etc.). To rectify this problem, I substitute silicone for grout on all the wall seams and use a flexible sealant, thus creating expansion joints at all the crucial areas. 
Silicone has a rubbery yet firm consistency that resists mildew and sticks well between tiles. Acrylic latex caulking is commonly used by contractors. Acrylic latex doesn't have the elasticity of silicone, tends to mildew faster, and shrinks as it dries. Acrylic is water soluble and easy to work with. Silicone is a petroleum based product that is more effective, yet harder to work with. I have approximately 25+ years working experience applying silicone neatly and efficiently. Neatness counts: the less silicone you apply the neater the job. Potential problems are easier to spot when you don't have globs of silicone smeared all over the tiles.

For more information I offer a personalized phone consultation specific to your shower. All you'll need to do is send me pictures of your shower and pay the $25 consultation fee. Then we'll pick a day and time to discuss your shower.

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Leakyshower.com (801) 897-1929

Salt Lake City, Utah

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