Guide to hollow tiles: identification, causes, and effect 


Tiles are the cornerstone in any of the architectural or interior design landscapes which makes it the fundamental part of your house. With this being said the issue arises when there is the presence of hollow tiles or hollow sounding tiles which often tends to confuse both property owners and professionals as to what could be the reason and how to solve it. This irregularity might sound like a small inconvenience but it is hiding a much bigger problem that would need immediate attention. To understand more about this situation, here is a guide to hollow tiles and how to check for them and solve the problem.

Understanding hollow tiles

At times when you walk on a flooring there is a specific place where your shoes start making different sounds as compared to the rest of the flooring. This is when you get alerted that something does not sound right with the flooring below. This is one of the typical cases where people feel the hollowness in the flooring. This hollow sound can be further tested by professionals with the help of certain special tools such as plastic tipped Mallets, wooden mallets, etc. The change in sound when you tap one of the tools on the floor indicates that there is a presence of hollow space or lack of adhesion in the flooring tile to the base laid below.

Identifying hollow tiles defect 

There are certain methods through which a professional can check for hollow tile defects and can be provided as follows:

1. Visual Inspection:

One of the most common ways to identify hollow tiles is through a thorough visual inspection of the area where the flooring is likely to be uneven. Examining the entire area of flooring and looking for tiles that appear to be either cracked, loose, or misaligned is the sign that we are looking for. While this method may not provide desirable results, it can still provide few cues of any problems early on.

2. Tapping test:

The tapping test is one of the reliable methods through which professionals check for hollow tiles widely in the industry. In this method, a gentle tap is made using either your finger or a small hammer over the tile, and the sound that is produced is listened to. A solid, clear sound will indicate that the tile has bonded well whereas if there is a muffled or hollow sound then this may indicate that there are voids or gaps beneath the surface. This method is especially beneficial for checking both wall and floor tiles.

3. The rubber mallet test:

Apart from the tapping test, one can also use a rubber mallet to tap on the tiles. This test will help produce a distinctive sound that is specific to good bonded tiles. Whereas the hollow tiles comparatively produce a different resonance which allows for identification of hollow tiles. This method is particularly great for areas that are quite large and hence provides a better assessment of the flooring’s integrity.

By using all the above methods, it is possible to confidently assess the condition of the tiles and identify the hollow tiles early to fix them. Early identification is the key to addressing the problem and finding the solution.

What causes hollow sounding tiles

If you have been wondering what causes hollow sounding tiles then there are multiple reasons due to which hollow sounding tiles can come into the picture. Some of the reasons can be provided as follows:

The very first reason and the most found reason in the question of what causes hollow sounding tiles is the poor quality of materials such as the screed, mortar, adhesive, or even the tile itself. This poor quality of materials while installing tiles can result in hollow sounding tiles.

Poor workmanship and lack of supervision are also other ways through which hollow tiles are produced. This may include how the tile is laid how mortar and slurry are prepared or the adhesive used to attach the tiles.

For oversized tiles, it is very important to take additional caution when you install them, especially with regard to tile bonding using hard wooden objects. If this is not done properly there are high chances of hollow sounding tiles.

Uneven subfloors or improper cleaning of the subfloor before you install the tiles due to which there is no uniform adhesive layer which is formed.

There are chances that the flooring might also be exposed to sunlight especially when the adhesive bonding is not firm, in such cases there are high chances that there may be debonding. This occurs due to the expansion of tiles which in turn results in hollow tiles.

Effects of hollow tiles

Effects of hollow tiles are inevitable if they are not checked for in an early inspection and are not properly taken care of. Here are some of the possible effects that may occur:

  • Voids present under the tile can lead to weakening of the tile which may further cause breakage.
  • When the adhesive present under the tile does not cover the entire surface then there may be space beneath it. When there is pressure applied on such tiles they may lead to cracks or damage.
  • Replacement of damaged tiles may also result in variations of shades which is another one of the major effects of hollow tiles.
  • Also reworking on hollow tile defects involves more money as compared to new work when installing tiles.

Preventive measures

 If you have recently moved into a new house then the first thing you might want to check would be various areas with defects. This will help you take immediate action and resolve any issues as soon as possible. During the renovation, it is important to check whether the builder or contractor has taken all the necessary steps to avoid any tile popping. Tapping on some of the loose tiles with a light tool is one of the ways that homeowners can identify such hollow tiles.

You can also hire some professionals who have extensive experience in installing tiles to ensure that the tiles are already in proper care. You can also avoid the exposure of tiles to excess moisture sunlight or even heavy foot traffic. Maintaining the tiles is also one of the preventive measures that you can apply to ensure the quality of the tiles.

How to fix a hollow tile

If you are looking at how to fix a hollow tile then you might want to check on which stage are you. If you are in the initial stage then you need to work accordingly and if you have already completed installation then you need to work accordingly. Here are various stages and how you can fix a hollow tile.

1. Before Grouting:

If you tend to understand that there is an issue right before the grouting process then you can fix the tiles before you begin with the entire process. If you are wondering how to fix a hollow tile in this stage then this will include the removal of tiles applying fresh mortar and re-laying of the tiles. This is one of the most effective and long-lasting solutions that is found to be usable.

2. Post-installation of tiles:

 For hollow tile defects that have been installed already, you might want to check for an epoxy injection. This solution can be viable however it is only a temporary solution. This involves drilling small holes into the grout lines and then injecting epoxy resin into them to fill any of the gaps that are present beneath the tiles. While this may be effective this is only considered a short-term fix and may even require further intervention.


The flooring is one of the most important parts of your home. It can also be rightly called the base of your home. While styling it with tiles magnifies the beauty of the place the tile installation process does require a lot of effort and concentration. In such complicated work, it is important to check with professionals such as Propchk Home Inspection Services who can not only help you identify such problems in the house but also provide immediate solutions. You can now ensure that there is not just good work done but also a few aesthetic pieces in your house!


Are hollow tiles a defect?

Hollow tiles are not a defect as compared to the industry standards. However, they can lead to heaver defects if not addressed properly.

How serious are hollow tiles?

Detecting hollow tiles is a serious matter as it may eventually even lead to cracked tiles. You may not want this hence early inspection and prevention is the key.

Should I fix the hollow tile?

A few hollow cases might not be that dangerous however you might want to be careful with a large area of hollow sounding tiles as they may lead to damage or breaking of tiles.

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