Tiles cracking in outrigger kitchen

Discussion in 'Builders' Talk' started by OwnCoast111, Feb 12, 2024.

  1. OwnCoast111

    OwnCoast111 New Member


    We are mid negotiation on a sale of a 1900s mid terrace. The outrigger kitchen has badly damaged floor tiles - any opinions on what the issue might be? Rising damp?

    It's hard to know, but thinking it might be solid concrete with no membrane? If this is the case what would be the next course of action?

    I did contact a Damp and Timber specialist to see if he'd take a look but he let me know there wasn't much point because he wouldn't be able to access the floor to assess what state it's in under the tiles. There is no obvious signs of damp.


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  2. HarryL1234

    HarryL1234 Screwfix Select

    I always advise people to ask the sellers in the first instance, but people seem reluctant to do this…

    Some of the tiles have broken and dropped, which could point to issues with the floor. But if it’s a suspended floor, which therefore will have some give, you could do this kind of damage by dropping something heavy on it, like a washing machine that’s being removed.
  3. ChrisJP

    ChrisJP Active Member

    I don't think rising damp, or indeed any other source of damp, could be the reason for the cracked tiles. It's more likely that the floor below is uneven or beginning to break up, or is a wooden board floor without an overlay. The only way you'll know is to remove at least some of the tiles and have a look.
    Are you selling or buying the house?
    If selling are you planning to remedy the floor? If not I guess you'll just need to come to an agreement with the buyer, who'll probably use the cracked floor to negotiate a reduction in price.
    If you're buying, then you need to reckon with taking all the tiles up, remedying whatever is wrong with the floor and laying new ones - or alternatively laying sheet vinyl which will be more compliant.
    HarryL1234 likes this.
  4. HarryL1234

    HarryL1234 Screwfix Select

    Good point — I just assumed they were buying.
  5. OwnCoast111

    OwnCoast111 New Member

    Sorry - I should have clarified - yes we are buying. I'm not sure we will be able to get access under the tiles to find out what the issue could be. Underfoot it feels fairly solid but I suppose there is no way of knowing whats under there.

    In the case of it breaking up - would we be looking at replacing the concrete slab (if it is concrete) or how would I remedy this?

  6. Mr Rusty

    Mr Rusty Screwfix Select

    Look, it's a 1900's house. There could be anything under there. Just factor in for an old house that you have to spend a few £K from time to time fettling things. If it's an outrigger kitchen, quite likely back in the day it was the scullery and the middle room was actually the "kitchen" with a range in, but likely no running water. You have to think about the history of the house - when it was built it would have had an earth closet/privy out back, no leccy, no gas, one tap probably or a yard pump. Over the years it's been mucked about with modified, modernised and no-one can tell what's been done.

    That outrigger might have stone flags on sand/cinders under those tiles. You won't know until you dig in. Whatever, it's all fixable, even if you have to dig it out, drop some dpc and insulation in and put some concrete screed on top. This sort of work is laborious but not particularly highly skilled, so well within a bit of DIY if you need to. All part of the adventure of a victorian/edwardian house.

    Or you could just put an underlay over it with a vapour control layer, and install a new e.g. kitchen laminate floor on top and ignore it - probably good for many years!
  7. OwnCoast111

    OwnCoast111 New Member

    Absolutely - excited about it all but in completion limbo I can't help but wonder what lurks beneath and ahem, what it will cost!

    Thanks for the advice all
  8. Mr Rusty

    Mr Rusty Screwfix Select

    Just remember it's been there for >120 years. Don't stress if it has a few rough edges! No rush...
  9. adgjl

    adgjl Screwfix Select

    What did your survey say about the floor, or did you just get a mortgage valuation?
  10. OwnCoast111

    OwnCoast111 New Member

    Survey said gave slightly mixed messages on it:

    "The kitchen floor is a solid construction and this is assumed to be a concrete base with some form of asphalt/bitumastic finish which will act as the damp proof membrane (DPM).

    The cracked floor tiling : impact damage seems less likely as there are so many cracked tiles: this leaves distortion of the floor that has caused the tiles to crack.

    There has been some settlement to the outrigger which could explain it ... except, from what we saw, the outrigger settlement is more long-standing than the floor tiles and there didn’t appear to be any particular pattern to the tile cracking pointing to a direction of settlement.

    It could therefore be due to some expansion of the floor slab and maybe therefore some form of flexible membrane or screed that stretches as the substrate moves should have been incorporated."
  11. Mr Rusty

    Mr Rusty Screwfix Select

    I love that word "assumed" with a 120 year old house. The "slab" could be half an inch of cement laid over flags to level them off ready for lino.....

    Reminds me of a slight telling off I got from the MD a good few years ago when the diamond drill contractors we'd pulled in for a job were taking a day per hole because the hospital was in a mining area and the floor slabs were solid 18" thick, instead of a couple of hours they would otherwise have taken, and were going to be way over budget; "couldn't you tell how thick the floor slabs were when you looked at them when you did the survey?".......If only Kryptonite was real...

    (bear in mind the "survey" was popping my head above the suspended ceiling looking for clear and accessible tube routes for a pneumatic tube system, and noting where we could drill through to jump floors)

    ... and we don't mention when on another job a rig had been set up to retain a 120mm core when it broke free, except the support was in the wrong place and the core dropped out in a different location and destroyed a ceiling and a sofa in a day room.....thankfully unoccupied.

    sorry OT
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2024

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