Looking for documentation for flooded houses with tile floors

QUESTION

We are working with flooded storm victims from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The issue we are facing is that these homes were inundated with 3-8 feet of water for 2-7 days…category 3 water, which includes sewage and other toxins. The insurance companies and the National Flood Insurance Program refuse to consider this flooring damaged and are not paying for it.

Our research has shown us that, after a period of time after the storm, these tiles become loose due to water finding its way under the tile and causing damage to the adhesives. In addition, this also allows contamination to the flooring system. It was also noted that some ceramic tiles are porous, and the tiles themselves could be damaged or contaminated.

Based on the conditions above, we are looking for some documentation or recommendations stating the following about the tile floors in this situation (average age of tile install 5-10 years):

1. That the tile floor is recommended to be replaced due to the reduction or loss of adhesion, and/ or

2. That the tile flooring itself, including the adhesive, may be contaminated and should be replaced.

We find it hard to believe that an average-aged home with tile floors would be completely sealed and have no water intrusion into the tile flooring system. I would love to discuss this with your team after you have discussed this issue. Thank you very much and we appreciate anything you could do to help us and the recent flooding victims.

ANSWER

There are a number of standards and best practices that guide tile installations in America. Installation and material standards and specifications are found in American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A108; A118; A136; A137.1; A137.2; A137.3. Installation best practices, methods and guidance are found in the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation. In addition, manufacturer instructions for the application and installation of their setting materials and related products used in tile installations must be followed for every
installation.

Installation standards, methods and materials will vary depending on the particulars of any given installation. Is it for example:

  • A floor, wall or ceiling.
  • A wet area such as a shower or a steam room.
  • A residential or commercial installation.
  • Is the supporting structure wood or concrete or steel.
  • Is the tile ceramic/porcelain; stone or glass.
  • And many other considerations.

Because there are applicable standards, methods, best practices, procedures, materials and numerous details that apply differently to each of these installation types, one generic analysis cannot possibly apply to each. Installations that have been flooded and constructed to the requirements of tile industry standards, methods and best practices can withstand significant amounts of moisture better than other products. In flooded situations, forensic investigations may need to be conducted to determine the next steps.

For this reason, NTCA strongly encourages you to contact a NTCA Recognized Consultant to review your cases. Find a recognized consultant by going to the NTCA website at www.tile-assn.com and searching for recognized consultants under “Find a Member.” As an association of tile contractors and professionals, NTCA itself does not provide these consulting services.

Mark Heinlein, NTCA Training Director

Mark Heinlein

Mark Heinlein is Training Director for the National Tile Contractors Association. He is Certified Tile Installer #1112 and currently a Ceramic Tile Education Foundation evaluator for the Certified Tile Installer program. Heinlein was the owner of Mark Heinlein Surfaces of Negaunee, Michigan.