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Ask the Inspector

Should I Worry About Cracked Tiles In A Prospective Property?

Should you worry about cracked tiles in your prospective property? Yes – cracked tiles not only look unattractive, but they can be a sign of an underlying issue in a property.

Can I Ignore Cracked Tiles In My Home?

It can be tempting to ignore cracked tiles, especially if there are only a few here and there. You can always replace them down the track when you have more time and money, right? Not necessarily if there is a bigger issue at play below the surface. You wouldn’t ignore unsightly cracks in a property’s wall. The same policy should apply for cracks in your tiled flooring.

If you discover cracked tiles in your potential new property, the first thing you should do is book a pre-purchase property inspection with a qualified and experienced building inspector. Only a trained professional can accurately determine whether or not your cracked tiles are a symptom of a deeper issue.

Causes of cracked tiles

You wouldn’t be the first person to believe that cracked tiles are the result of wear and tear, age or poor quality tiles. In reality, cracks in tiles are more commonly the result of an underlying issue.

Let’s take a look at the potential causes of cracks in tiles.

Accident or load

Ever dropped a plate in the kitchen? Perhaps a jar of jam slipped through your fingers or you dropped a bottle of wine as you were pulling it out of the fridge? It can happen to the best of us and can be disastrous for your tiles.

Cracked tiles due to something heavy falling on them are common in kitchens. This kind of crack is usually contained to one or two tiles and you can clearly see where an object has been dropped. Similarly, tiles can crack under the pressure of heavy furniture. When you’re moving furniture like fridges or washing machines in your kitchen or laundry, tiles are often at risk of cracking.

These kind of cracks in tiles are a surface issue and nothing to worry about. If you don’t like the look of the damaged tiles in your home, replacing tiles is an easy fix.

Poor quality tiles

There’s a patch of tiles in your living room that look terrible. They are chipped, cracked and lifting. Surely it must be a case of a cheap and nasty tile that can be ripped out and replaced, right? Before you plan to gut your kitchen, laundry, bathroom or living areas and re-tile them, note that issues with the quality of tiles do not occur often. This is because tile manufacturers must meet specific standards when producing tiles. Tile flooring is built to last and withstand much more than your average wear and tear.

Only a qualified and experienced building inspector can provide advice on the cracked tiles in your prospective property. After a detailed inspection, they will provide a report outlining whether or not the cracked tiles should concern you and be addressed.

Issues with the sub-layer

The most likely and common cause of cracked tiles is issues with the material below the surface. This is called the substrate or sub-layer. If the concrete below the tiles has moved, cracked or has not been laid correctly, it can wreak havoc on your tiles.

It is important to note that new homes often move as they settle into their foundations, while older properties also move as time goes on. Even gentle movements in a property’s foundations can cause tiles to crack, which makes it tricky to diagnose potential issues.

If the sub-layer of your home was poorly mixed or below standard, then tiles can shift and crack. If the concrete beneath the tiles did not sufficiently cure, then it too can cause problems for your tiled floors. Cracking in tiles can also be a result of the tiles being laid without a suitable and flexible adhesive underfoot.

What do cracked tiles in my prospective property mean?

Unfortunately, when the cause of your cracked tiles is hidden below the surface, it is not easy to get to the root of the problem and find a quick fix. This is when a skilled building inspector should be engaged to inspect the property and provide advice on any issues uncovered.

Your cracked tiles could simply mean that your prospective property is naturally moving. They could however be a tell-tale sign that there is a structural issue with the house, which must be properly addressed before further and more costly damage is done.

It can be easy to brush over something as seemingly minor as cracked tiles when you fall in love with a property. The only way to ensure a smart investment however is with a pre-purchase building inspection.

Cracked roof tiles

The tiles on your potential new property’s flooring are not the only tiles you need to think about. Roof tiles can cop a battering during Queensland’s tropical storms and wild weather. It is not unusual for roof tiles to become cracked and broken during a storm. When the roof tiles on a home are damaged, they can put the interior of the home at risk of water damage, mould and wood rot.

As part of the pre-purchase building inspection process, your building inspector will give your roof a thorough inspection to ensure there are no cracked or broken tiles that can cause concern.

Invest in a pre-purchase building inspection

The only way to get to the bottom of the cracked tile problem in your prospective property, is with the help of a trained building inspector.

When you book a pre-purchase building inspection, your building inspector will analyse the cracks in the tiles and their positioning to diagnose the issue. When the safety of the structure is not to standard, the property will not pass the building inspection.

The building inspector will provide you with a detailed report following the inspection. They will also be available to talk through any issues that have been raised. They will advise you what needs to be done to rectify the issues and can potentially give you bargaining power if you want to negotiate a lesser price.

Worried about cracked tiles in your prospective property? Book a pre-purchase building inspection today to investigate the issue and give yourself peace of mind.


About Andrew Mackintosh

Andrew Mackintosh has been answering home inspection questions in the greater Brisbane area since 1995. He has personally carried out over 20,000 building inspections and is a licensed builder and licensed building inspector, Member of Queensland Master Builders Association & Institute of Building Consultants. Being the business owner and the inspector, Andrew is passionate about providing clients with excellent customer service, value for money, honest, unbiased, thorough inspection and reporting in a professional and timely manner to allow clients to make informed decisions when purchasing property.