We have ceramic tiles now, and half are cracked. Reasons we were given so far: beams in basement ceiling are too wide, improperly install. We want to redo the floors but want to make sure we pick the right option for this situation.
Sam ~ Boston, Massachusetts
Hi Sam, you don't mention how old your home is, but if you live in Boston, Massachusetts, there's probably a pretty good chance that your home is older. Ceramic tile is a heavy floor and many older homes don't have their floor joists set up to carry the weight, which is probably why you're having a problem with the cracked tiles. The weight of the floor, the cabinets and appliances, and the people walking across it is causing the floor to move and ceramic tile floors crack when they move.
If your basement is unfinished, you can probably adjust the floor framing to carry the weight of a ceramic tile floor if that is the floor you would prefer to have. It would just be a matter of adding a few floor joists in between the existing joists or perhaps adding some bearing points in the middle of the current span of your existing floor system. You might want to have a local Boston contractor take a look at the situation and let you know how big of a job it would be. If your basement is finished, the project could still be done, but it would be a huge mess and probably cost prohibitive.
Another way to help disperse the weight of the ceramic tile and lessen the deflection is to make sure the ceramic tile contractor puts plywood underlayment down before installing the tile.
If you don't want to worry about any more cracked tiles or having to do any work in your basement, you might just want to install hardwood or vinyl flooring in your kitchen. Hardwood kitchen floors are very popular and I believe I've installed more of those than I have ceramic tile kitchen floors over the years. People who work in their kitchen a lot seem to feel that standing on the wood is easier on the feet than standing on ceramic tile for long periods and a hardwood floor should fit right in with a Boston home.
Vinyl flooring would be your most inexpensive option and it's easy to keep clean and looking nice, but may not be considered quite as upscale and stylish as hardwood or ceramic tile.
One last option to think about would be a wood laminate floor. Wood laminate is about as easy to clean up and keep looking nice as a vinyl floor and has the style and upscale appearance of hardwood flooring. Some brands of wood laminate flooring have a cushioned backing that almost makes it feel like you're standing on carpet padding while you're working.