Commercial Tile Shrinkage/Gaps in Tile

Vinyl Composition Tile is comprised of approximately 80% filler (limestone) and under normal conditions does not shrink unless there is an extreme temperature change from where it was stored to where it was installed (i.e. very cold to very hot or very hot to very cold). The temperature of the room to receive resilient flooring should be a minimum temperature of 65°F 48 hours before, during and 48 hours after installation. A minimum temperature of 55°F should be maintained thereafter. The flooring materials and adhesives be acclimated to the same temperatures and time constraints to ensure they perform as they should and the installation is a success.

NOTE: As a rule, lighter colored tiles tend to show the tile joints more readily than a darker colored tile. We do not recommend filling tile gaps with caulk or putty.

Reasons why tile can appear to be shrinking/gapping:

Uneven Subfloor: The subfloor should be smooth, level and flat. If not properly prepared, tile installed on an uneven subfloor will show gaping. “Tile run-off” can also be attributed to an uneven subfloor. “Tile run-off” can produce gaps and the installation may be misdiagnosed as the tile being out of square.

Moisture from Below: Calcium chloride testing should be conducted to determine the amount of moisture being emitted through a concrete slab. We have specific recommendations for the maximum acceptable moisture emission levels for the installation of our products. If the moisture being emitted exceeds these recommendations, it will attack the adhesive allowing the adhesive to soften and if the tile was not installed net to walls will cause the tile to slide and gap. Tile installed over excessive moisture will grow slightly and later when the slab dries, the tile will return to its original size creating a uniform gap. Excessive moisture can also affect the bond of the tile and cause the tile to peak/curl at the edges, which makes the tile appear to be shrinking.

NOTE: Lighter colored tile is more prone to moisture related movement, due to the amount of pigments needed in the manufacturing process to obtain the lighter shades.

Moisture from Above/Improper Maintenance: We recommend that you do not wet wash, scrub or strip the floor for at least four or five days after installation. Flooding the floor too soon after installation can cause degradation of the adhesive. This can cause the tile to peak/curl at the edges and make it appear to be shrinking. The use of a no-scrub and/or no-rinse stripper is not recommended on tile floors less than two years old. These types of strippers may affect the adhesive bond and cause the tile to peak/curl at the edges, which makes the tile appear to be shrinking.

Adhesive Removers: In a remodel, where an old floor was removed and the adhesive residue cleaned off with a chemical remover, the chemical if not completely flushed from the subfloor, can cause issues with the new adhesive and bond. This will cause the tile to peak/curl at the edges and appear to be shrinking.

NOTE: The reasons mentioned above are not product related, but installation and/or maintenance related. AHF Products is not responsible for these types of issues.

Updated on September 26, 2022