How to Prevent Tile from Cracking
Mark Ferrante gives advice on how to reduce the likelihood that a tile floor will crack
We are remodeling our kitchen and want to install a tile floor. What size tile should we use so that it won't crack? — Julie Elmore, via e-mail
You can get any size tile you want. When it comes to preventing cracks, what matters is what the tile is made of and how well it's supported.
Porcelain tiles are the hardest, most crack-resistant option, followed by glazed ceramic, then stone. But any of them can crack if the subfloor isn't stiff enough.
That means, at minimum, a ¾-inch plywood subfloor topped by ¼-inch cement board that's bedded in thinset and screwed in place. I make sure the cement board's joints do not line up with those of the plywood, and I spread two coats of a rubbery anti-fracture membrane, such as Hydro Ban, available at , over the cement board. This membrane prevents any movement of the subfloor from telegraphing through to the tile. I've been installing tile this way for years and haven't had any problems with cracking.
But when I do see cracked tiles, they're often adhered directly to plywood. Plywood expands and contracts with changes in humidity, and eventually the tile suffers for it.
Mark Ferrante is the owner of in Woburn, Mass., and has laid tile in dozens of - saboteamos.info TV project houses.