Can Tile be Installed Over Hairline Cracks?

Tile can add color and style to your flooring while giving you peace of mind because of the durability and water resistant qualities in this material. Ceramic, porcelain, and the popular wood-look tile comes in a wide range of colors, patterns, sizes and price points. But when you are selecting your tile, keep in mind before you make your final decision, that you can apply tile rated for flooring to the walls but you cannot apply tile rated for walls to the floor.

Kitchen Tile

Some of you might also be wondering if those visible hairline cracks in your concrete slab sub-flooring would prevent you from installing new tile flooring over the cracks without transferring the cracks to the new tile. There is a process to this type of installation. Per Brian Pousson of FLOHR, there are specifically designed products for “Crack Isolation.” While generally a commonly used latex modified mortar minimizes the impact of cracks on tile installed above it, there are products called “crack isolation membranes” that can be applied over the subfloor to help prevent issues resulting from the existing cracks. Brian explained that there are several crack isolation products on the market but he usually uses a liquid latex/rubber type product that is painted over the subfloor filling the cracks. The latex will remain pliable enough to prevent the movement in the cracks from telegraphing through to the tile.  He suggests porcelain tiles are a better choice for this application due to the denser material of porcelain rather than that of ceramic tile.

While this application is available, applying a crack suppression system prior to installing tile will add to the overall cost of the flooring installation. If watching the budget, hardwood floors and the newer waterproof floors, whether glue down or free-floating, typically are not affected by the hairline cracks in the subfloor and may result in a less expensive installation.

We can help you choose the best flooring option for your space and budget. We invite you to take a look at some our recent renovations!