There is one simple guideline.
Do it right the first time!
Our professional, company trained waterproofing experts have been doing tile outdoors in one of the harshest climates in the country without any concerns about water intrusion. Tile in an outdoor application is very popular with a home owner as it should be, it looks fantastic and adds a real touch of class to an outdoor living area. So what’s the problem? It is very hard to find somebody to do the work, they may not tell you but there is a real fear of liability for the contractor so they shy away from this type work. OR you may find somebody that wants to do the work, they only lack a proven system. They are creating their own “system” that they are sure will work. The end result is too often a frustrated and upset home owner stuck with a very costly mess.
Here we are going to walk you through a failure that had occurred here in Salt Lake City. As you can see this private residence is a high end custom home. When we were first called out the home owner was beside herself with the amount of water leaking from the upper deck to the lower deck. There were icicle’s that actually hung from the recessed lighting in the soffit to the tile on the lower deck.
Most important and in dire need of repair was the bridge that not only connected the deck to the pool
but is the only way to get to the pool and it had deteriorated so much it could not be walked on.
You never know what you will find when tearing apart a failed project, we were not disappointed at all here. There was actually two different ideas implemented but neither had to do with waterproofing! All the effort was based on the tile finish and no consideration at all for durability, usage or longevity.
On the bridge we found two layers of 3/4 inch OSB. Above that was a metal lath with a thin-set then a drainage mat, finally was the tile finish. So lets break down the good and bad here.
The two layers of OSB and metal lath were an obvious effort to reduce deflection, that’s the right thing to do. Our testing showed that two layers of plywood would not work. The metal lath idea probably came from other liquid applied systems and again can help reduce movement. BUT it should be stapled every square inch. Now the first question that I had was where is the waterproofing? There is nothing here that stops water from passing through the whole build up and soak right into the OSB, which quickly turns into a sponge soaking up all it can get. That is why the upper layer looks like a pile of flakes.
Now we have learned about the bridge and why it failed. What about the lower deck?
Here we found a change in the game plan, there was no metal lath used on the deck surface. For some reason the decision was made to use a thick-set type installation and the drainage mat on top of that, then the tile finish. I don’t really understand why the change unless they thought the bridge needed to be the best plan but the deck would not have as much movement? Just a guess.
What we have here is a “tile setter” being the responsible party for this complete job, yet their effort and focus is in how to make the tile look best? They are not skilled, nor trained in waterproofing at best they use their experience from installing tile indoors and try to apply it to outdoors. The drainage mat is a sheet good and was butted up to the next layer. The transition from the bridge to the deck was leaking quite a bit as you can see below. The edge beam (doubled 2x’s) are showing pretty serious water damage. The further onto the deck we go the lessor the damage but it is also covered so that makes sense.
This repair was not too difficult and that only made the home owner even more frustrated about the failure. The tile was removed and trashed as was everything down to the joists. To her, it was just like the beginning, again. We sheeted it with 3/4″ plywood (no OSB), used a bond coat of Mapei’s Ultra Flex II, set and screwed down Durock Next Gen 1/2″ CBU then fully adhered Duradek’s Tiledek membrane. The tile was then bonded directly to the Tiledek membrane by the tile setter.
Looking at these two different approaches there are a lot similarities lets break them down.
The failed installation was based on a tile setters experience. (Not a trained waterproofer)
The Tiledek product comes as a tested and approved complete system (ICC and TCNA)
The drainage mat helps to drain the water and is the anti-fracture product.
Tiledek is waterproof and is the anti-fracture membrane as well.
The metal lath reduces deflection but it also rusts as the water leaks through. (less cost)
Durock is better then the lath and is approved by the manufacturer to be used in the Tiledek system and was tested as a part of the system. (ICC and TCNA)
THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ISSUE HERE IS WHO IS RESPONSIBLE / ACCOUNTABLE????
If you are in the industry you know exactly what I mean. There are countless stories about how a leak with outdoor tile occurred and who is at fault. They are all the same in that all it becomes is a bunch of finger pointing at each others product or installation details, nobody takes responsibility and the owner is left with a mess and huge cost of repair.
We are not afraid of the liability that comes from waterproofing over living space what so ever.
Our installers are professional.
All are company trained.
We inspect every Tiledek project before the tile is installed and offer to flood test the surface first.
Our history goes back 40 years, this isn’t some “new idea” or dream. If you want a waterproof system that was designed specifically for a tile finish then we have you covered. Offering the owner peace of mind that when a tile or stone pops or cracks it is a simple repair without the costly water damages.
To the tile setters credit, he was the only person / product that took responsibility on this job, he installed the tile at no cost to the owner.
So how long did it take for the water to make its way through and cause all this? LESS THAN ONE YEAR!!! It was done in the fall, by spring it was replaced and done right.