The Secret to a Perfect Porcelain Tile Floor: Avoid Hairline Cracks!
Preventing hairline cracks in porcelain tile can be tricky, but with a bit of know-how, those tricky hairline cracks can be avoided. Hairline cracks in porcelain tile are often caused by stress on the tile due to cracking in the concrete surface underneath. Catching these hairline cracks early and making sure the concrete has proper control joints can help minimize their impact. Additionally, using a crack suppression membrane will shield the tile from any movement in the concrete.
The Tile Council of North America recommends continuing the concrete control joints through the tiling. Control joints help reduce the risk of developing hairline cracks in the tile by limiting the expansion and contraction of the concrete on which the tile is being laid. It can be helpful to extend these control joints through the tile, to provide further protection against damage.
If there are any existing cracks in the concrete before installing the tile then it is important to make sure they are filled prior to installing the porcelain tile. Making sure the concrete floor is completely clean and free of debris before the installation is necessary to ensure complete adhesion of the tiles to the surface.
To complete the installation of the porcelain tile and increase the chance of avoiding hairline cracks, it is recommended to use a crack suppression membrane. This membrane typically comes in spray, roller, or trowel form and should be applied evenly to the concrete surface. Ensure that you are covering the entire surface and have carefully inspected the area after completing each section. Once the crack suppression membrane has dried you can then start laying the tiles as usual. The thin-set will adhere to the membrane which will prevent any misalignment in the tile, resulting in hairline cracks.
In conclusion, the key to avoiding hairline cracks in porcelain tile is ensuring that the floor is properly prepped with a crack suppression membrane. Making sure any existing cracks are filled prior to laying the tile, continuing the control joints through the tiling, and ensuring that the entire area is clean before installation will all ensure that the porcelain tile remains protected.