Crunch....Pop....Loose Tiles & Missing Grout - Is cement board the right way to prep your floor?

Cement board used as a tile underlayment

You certainly shouldn't be hearing any type of noise when walking on your tiled floor, other than the solid "thunk" of your feet hitting the tiles. If you hear crunching, popping, or creaking, this would indicate that the bond beneath the tiles has failed. This can happen for a few reasons, all of which will be detailed thoroughly in this article.

One common reason for this to happen is improper preparation of the substrate. The tile contractor needs to make sure first and foremost that your subfloor (plywood or OSB) is securely fastened to the joists below. If your home is like most, the builder probably didn't bother using adhesive and screws when securing each sub-floor panel. They nail them down quickly with a nail gun to save time and money. A good tile installer knows this, and will always screw down your sub floor using appropriate flooring screws to ensure strength and rigidity. This step alone is extremely important and is overlooked by many installers looking to make a quick buck. A good tile installer will also use the right screws; construction grade screws, deck screws, or phosphate flooring screws specifically designed for sub-floor attachment will do the job. Drywall screws will not do the job, and anybody caught using them for this purpose is likely looking to save some money by not purchasing appropriate floo