Stone and tile ground injury in insurance coverage claims

Replacing or repairing a floor after a flooding event. Not the entire issues that consequence from a flooding occasion essentially imply the ground should be changed if the right course of is used for cleansing and a correct evaluation is made early within the course of. (Photograph: Yunava1/

Attorneys and insurance coverage adjusters have issue in instances the place flooding happens as a result of it’s tough to find out if a ground must be changed or if it may be repaired. That is going to be a query that must be answered following any hurricane or flooding occasion.

To find out the extent of injury and to in the end choose a worth for the declare an intensive understanding of what may cause these damages is important. This text will assist you perceive what can occur when a stone or tile ground is flooded. As an knowledgeable witness, I’ve been concerned in lots of instances the place flooding is a matter. Many occasions the fallacious course of is used for cleansing, which may trigger higher, and maybe irreversible, injury to the ground.

As well as, many insurance coverage corporations won’t pay claims because of the lack of visible proof and can log out on a declare solely to search out that further underlying issues didn’t manifest visually till months afterward.

Flooding can wreak havoc on pure stone and tile flooring. Floodwaters not solely include water that may hurt and destroy marble, granite, limestone, terrazzo and tile flooring, however in addition they include particles and grime in addition to different dangerous contaminants that may trigger staining and different issues. Many occasions the injury that’s accomplished by the flooding won’t present up till months later.

As a stone forensic knowledgeable, I take care of issues similar to these ensuing from frequent flooding. The excellent news is that not the entire issues that consequence essentially imply the ground should be changed. Some checks will be carried out by forensic consultants to see whether it is doable to reverse the injury reasonably than having to resort to expensive alternative.

Following are a few of the most typical issues which will happen.


Damage from efflorescence. Efflorescence. (Photograph: Stone Forensics)

Efflorescence seems as a white powdery residue on the floor of the stone. It’s a widespread situation on stone, terrazzo and tile installations when the stone is uncovered to a big amount of water, similar to flooding. This powder is a mineral salt from the setting mattress. It may be eliminated by cleansing professionals however many occasions will come again after the preliminary cleansing. The stone will proceed to effloresce till it’s utterly dry. This drying course of can take a number of days to many months. A serious mistake that’s usually made — even by some professionals — is to use a sealer to the stone or tile. The explanation this can be a main mistake is the sealer will block the escape of moisture which may trigger additional issues similar to flaking and spalling of the stone.

The stone or tile needs to be evaluated for moisture by an expert stone and tile forensic knowledgeable to find out the extent of residual moisture.


Sub-florescence is what occurs when the mineral salts migrate and don’t make it to the floor. Within the efflorescence situation above, the salts are deposited on the floor of the stone. In sub-florescence, the salts crystallize just under the floor, inflicting stress throughout the pores of the stone. The result’s a situation often called spalling, which seems as pits on the floor of the stone. Sub-florescence is quite common on inexperienced marbles and on virtually all stone and tile surfaces the place flooding has occurred. The stone or tile will be examined for salts by a certified skilled stone and tile knowledgeable.

Yellowing and discoloration

Moisture staining on a granite floor. Moisture staining on a granite ground. (Photograph: Stone Forensics)

Many light-colored stones include naturally occurring deposits of iron. Iron is a mineral present in stone and may happen randomly all through the stone. If iron is current, it is going to start to oxidize when uncovered to water or different oxidizers similar to acids and family bleach. Stone can stay for years with out yellowing, then over time might slowly flip yellow and in extreme instances, might flip utterly brown. This oxidation course of is accelerated when the stone is saturated with water, as from a flood.

This means of oxidation is just like the rusting of steel. In case you expose a model new nail to water and air, it is going to flip brown and rust. The identical course of is happening with the iron within the stone. If water or air is eradicated, the iron won’t oxidize. That is the rationale sure white marbles instantly flip yellow. The method is tough to reverse and alternative of the stone could also be needed if not correctly evaluated and the correct elimination method employed.


A number of forms of skinny stone tiles are very inclined to warping when uncovered to flooding. Lots of the inexperienced marbles and some agglomerate marbles are infamous for this warping situation. Many installers have had the shock of discovering that their tile set up has mysteriously change into warped in a single day. Why does this occur and may or not it’s prevented?

Warping is brought on by water. Inexperienced marble set with any water-based materials will are likely to warp. The mechanism of why the tile warps is considerably of a thriller. Some imagine that the water fills the pores of the stone and when the water evaporates, the orientation of the stone’s crystal modifications and causes it to warp. Regardless of the cause, one factor is for positive, inexperienced marble can warp when set with water-based supplies or uncovered to copious quantities of water.

Treatment: As soon as a inexperienced marble tile warps it’s tough to restore. Makes an attempt have been made to grind the tile flat, however this normally fails since further water is launched throughout the grinding course of. The inexperienced marble merely warps once more. To find out if the stone will be repaired an in depth investigation should be made. This will embody eradicating a tile to find out the kind of setting mattress.


Marble rusting from water. Marble rusting from water intruding close to door entrance. (Photograph: Stone Forensics)

Erosion is a situation discovered when stone is uncovered to fixed quantities of water. That is very true with marble that’s utilized in water fountains. Whereas marble is a really ornamental materials, it is likely one of the worst supplies to make use of in or round water. Marble consists of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is a water-soluble mineral. Fairly merely this implies it is going to dissolve in water. (Need proof? Go to the Grand Canyon.)

Erosion will be acknowledged by a sluggish deterioration of the stone floor. With polished stone, the polish can be worn off. In older installations, the stone might change into very mushy, brittle and in excessive situations, it is going to powder.

If any architects or designers are studying this text, I urge you to not specify marble for water fountains. In case you do, plan on very excessive upkeep prices and alternative in about 5 to 10 years, if not sooner.

Hole sounds

I consistently get calls from insurance coverage adjusters, contractors, attorneys and others about hole sounds that happen after a ground has been uncovered to flooding. The actual fact is these hole sounds that happen on a ground are usually not brought on by flooding. The reason being easy: most setting supplies are made out of Portland cement. It’s a well-known indisputable fact that Portland cement has hydraulic properties. In different phrases, it cures within the presence of water. In case your consumer is complaining about hole sounds and is attempting responsible it on a flood, preserve this in thoughts. An inspection and analysis of the ground are needed to find out the extent of the hole sounds, which may trigger deboning and different points.

Mineral crusts or lime putty

Mineral crusts or lime putty will be acknowledged by their white crust-like formation on stone surfaces. These crusts are sometimes discovered on out of doors stone stairs, water fountains, inside flooring and different areas the place stone is uncovered to flooding. The crusts are a deposit of laborious mineral salts consisting of calcium and magnesium. These minerals originate from the soil, setting mattress or from the water itself. These salts are just like efflorescence in that they’re a mineral. They differ in that they type a tough crust that may be tough to take away.

Having a stone or tile ground that has been subjected to flooding evaluated by an knowledgeable is extremely advisable. It could make all of the distinction in an insurance coverage declare.

Frederick M. Hueston is a nationally recognized marketing consultant and the founding father of Stone Forensics. He’s the writer of greater than 30 books and quite a few articles on stone set up, restoration and care. Contact him at [email protected].


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