Hollow Sounding Tiles – Causes And Fixes
Do you have tiles in your home that have a hollow sound every time you step on them? If so, don’t worry – you’re not alone. In this post, we’ll show you how to fix the issue and make your tiles sound solid once again. Keep reading to learn more.
What Causes Tiles To Sound Hollow?
There are several causes for the hollow sound that you hear when you walk across your tiled floors. Most times it’s caused by a problem with the subfloor, whether it be an air pocket under the tile or just dirt and grime. Other reasons include uneven tiles or damaged grout. This is why it’s so important to hire a professional tile contractor for your installation and repair projects.
The most important part of fixing the hollow sound is to identify and address its source. Be sure to hire a professional if you’re not 100% certain what’s causing the issue because it could lead to bigger problems.
Fix Hollow Sounding Tiles – Try These Methods First
If your tiles are only making the sound on certain parts of your floors, it could be due to any number of issues including uneven tile or broken grout. Try these solutions to fix them:
If only a few pieces on the floor are causing this issue, then there may be a problem with your grout. You’ll need to remove it and fill in the spaces with some fresh grout, letting it dry before you step on the tiles again.
Lippage refers to uneven flooring, where one side of a tile is higher or lower than another. To fix this issue, you’ll either need to use a tile leveling compound or an epoxy grout. Be sure that you save yourself the time and expense of removing your tiles then reinstalling them, by first determining if the issue is with your tiles or if it’s just lippage.
Fixing broken grout
If it’s broken grout that’s causing your tiles to make this sound, you’ll need to remove them and replace the broken pieces with fresh grout. You may also want to consider using a polymeric sanding sealer before installing new tiles.
Fixing Hollow Tiles – More Complex Methods
There are several other ways that you can fix your hollow-sounding tiles. If you still think that the issue is coming from under the tile, here are a few ways to go about it:
Use backer rods and thin-set between each row of tile to make them float level with the previous row. Be sure to wait at least 48 hours for your tiles to dry before using your home again.
Use a tile leveling compound for this method, which adds more support to the tiles overall. You’ll need to do this with each row of tile you have on your floors. Camber is an angle on the thicker side of the tile, allowing it to be level instead of being flat.
This method is for if the tiles you have already installed are about to break or crack then and there. You’ll need a polyester compound that will harden over your broken tiles like they’re made of glass. When it’s dry, this type of filling can be sanded down and painted with latex paint.
How do I fix my broken tiles?
If it’s the actual tile that’s causing a hollow sound when you walk on them, then you’ll need to replace them. If only a few tiles in your flooring are breaking, then they can simply be removed and replaced with new tiles. If there are a lot of broken ones, though, then your best bet is to remove the entire floor and replace it.
How do I fix my uneven tiles?
If you have uneven tiles on your floors, then you’ll need to first determine if they were installed that way or if they’ve moved since being laid. Most tiles are cut to be 1/8″ wider or bigger than their original size, so it’s possible that they were installed that way. If you want them all to be the same size though, you’ll need to use a tile leveling system. This can be done by removing any uneven tiles and filling in the gaps with polyester resin or epoxy grout. The leveling compound can be left to dry, and then your tiles can be re-laid and sealed with epoxy polyurethane.
The Bottom Line
Most hollow tiles will have a hollow sound when you step on them. This can be due to your tiles being too thin, or there may be some type of issue with the grout between them. Your best bet is to go through the list above and try and determine what type of problem you’re dealing with, whether it’s lippage or damage to your tiles themselves. Once you know what it is, you’ll be able to fix the problem without replacing your whole floor.
Remember If it is an older property with many hollow tiles, we recommend removing all the tiles and replacing them together.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. Is my floor too thin?
A. This is very unlikely if your tiles are sounding hollow after they have been laid. The average thickness of the ceramic tile is between 3/8″ to 1/2″, so they are not usually too thin unless installed with an adhesive that has sunken over time.
Q. Is the subfloor level?
A. Yes, check with a spirit level in several places to ensure that there is no leaning on your floor and the surface is even.
Q. Are all my tiles in good condition?
A. It is unlikely that your entire floor would be sound if only individual tiles are sounding hollow when walked on. If this is the case, then there may be problems with your grout or capping.
Q. What is lippage?
A. Lippage is the term used when tiles don’t match up straight across a line of flooring and lean inwards towards each other; normally only seen on large expanses of flooring. This can cause a hollow sound when walked on.
Q. My tiles have to be removed for repairs, what is the best way to do that?
A. If your whole floor needs replacing then it is advisable that you remove all the tiles and replace them together, if only a small section of breakage then just remove the broken ones and replace them.
Q. My tiles have been laid for a while but still sound hollow when walked on, what is the problem?
A. There could be several problems with your flooring that cause a ‘hollow’ sound when walking on including broken grout, capping or damaged tiles. The best way to find out the exact problem is to remove a tile and inspect it.
Q. Do i need to remove the grout when retiling a floor?
No, it is not necessary as you can use a self-leveling compound to re-tile onto.
Please note that if there is damage to the subflooring, old adhesive or residue then you will need to remove the grout and clean the subfloor.
Q. Is it possible to replace individual tiles?
Yes, this is possible for small sections of tiles but large areas should probably be replaced as a whole to ensure evenness. For individual tiles, you should use a tile leveling system as this will help with keeping the tiles even.