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This happened in my bathroom just now.

The build got completed approx 12 months ago and now tiles are coming off this extended wall.

During construction, the builders told me, that the bathtub didn't fill out the length of the room. So they wanted to "pad" the adjacent wall a few inches so it didn't leave a gap. At the time it seemed sensible. In hindsight, it was a terrible idea. I'm sure there would have been better solutions for this little problem.

How can I best recover from this? And what did the builders do wrong?

enter image description here

EDIT

I contacted the builder and they ended up demolishing the entire bathroom, including knocking down ALL of the tiles. It comes with a 5 year warranty so I walk away scot-free.

For the wall that needs to come out a few inches extra (in the picture), they are using metal studs and Villaboard which is all drilled deep into the wall with plugs and screws. Then tiling goes on top, this time no five spotting but applying the tile glue the right way covering 90% of the tile. Also they are re-doing the waterproofing.

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    You don't indicate where in the world you are, but many new homes in the US come with a "warranty" - this seems like an ideal time to file a claim if you've got one! As jwh20 pointed out in his answer, this will need to be completely torn out and redone. – FreeMan Sep 23 '20 at 11:41
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    Rent a billboard, put this picture and the name of the company that did the work on it, and wait. Or call them and threaten to do that. This assumes the idiots are still in business, which might be false with that quality of work. You could start with whatever free electronic posting services are specific to your area... – Ecnerwal Sep 23 '20 at 12:25
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    I'll give 'em credit: That's very creative. It's not quality. It's not anywhere near the way it should be done, but it is creative. A solid B- for outside the box thinking. A very strong F, though, for quality and integrity. – FreeMan Sep 23 '20 at 13:57
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica What makes you think the floor tile shouldn't be ripped out and replaced too? I wouldn't be too precious about anything in that room. I think the whole thing needs a sledgehammer taken to it. – J... Sep 23 '20 at 18:24
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    On the bright side you can probably pop the remaining tiles off by hand and reuse them -- the binding material shouldn't be hard to scrape off. – Sidney Sep 23 '20 at 21:37
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It's a bit difficult to figure out from the photo but it appears that they stuck scraps of tile to the wall with compound and then simply stuck the finish tiles to that with more compound. NOT A GOOD PLAN! The finish tiles are poorly supported and also the smooth surface of the scraps doesn't provide good adhesion for the compound.

This is a total tear-out job if ever I've seen one! I don't see how you're going to salvage any part of this and I'd also be concerned about substandard work on the rest of the job.

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    I'd suggest also insisting that the tile on the other walls be torn out to ensure something shifty/shoddy like this wasn't done there, too. – FreeMan Sep 23 '20 at 11:41
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    @FreeMan I'm not sure I'd allow a contractor who did this kind of shoddy work on my property again. – jwh20 Sep 23 '20 at 16:27
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    @jwh20 I don't think anyone suggested using the same contractor again! But any other work they did should also be assumed to be defective and in needing of replacement. – J... Sep 23 '20 at 16:29
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    Well the biggest issue is what you call a "compound" isn't the right material for tile. The prep of the wall being done incorrectly and the installation is secondary. So you are right in your conclusion but the main reason that the home owner has to redo everything is that the binding material is wrong. The rest if prepped better will stay up longer but eventually fail for the same reason. – DMoore Sep 23 '20 at 18:12
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    I call it "compound" because I cannot tell what it is from the photo. It's some sort of "compound" but even if the "right" stuff had been used, I don't see how it would have stayed put. Bottom line is that this is a VERY poor job of tile installation. – jwh20 Sep 23 '20 at 18:40
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You don't "pad out" a wall and then tile it. They had a couple of inches to work with. So stud the wall with 2x2 or 2x4's flat and cover with cement board, waterproof, then tile. It probably would have been faster than what they did.

You're going to have to remove all of that wall and redo it.

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    And, as pointed out in a comment to another question, the rest of the walls too - just to be safe. – Aleks G Sep 23 '20 at 16:17
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    There's some really nice foam-cored cement-faced board used in wet rooms here in the UK. It comes in a variety of thicknesses and is meant for just this sort of thing – Chris H Sep 25 '20 at 17:20
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Regarding the gap, baths almost never fit the space exactly. Apart from the obvious problem of building and preparing walls millimetre-accurately, if the bath fits the space too closely then you're going to have extreme difficulty actually getting it in there. Pythagoras says that dropping the bath in anything less than perfectly parallel will make the bath take up more length than there is space for, so it'll jam partway down. The result on an acrylic bath will likely be damage to the bath rim.

it is entirely normal to fix a batten along the end wall to fit the gap (normally at the non-tap end), and cut tiles to fit over that. The tiles here could be round-edged (trim) tiles, or they could be normal tiles with a trim strip to finish them. The tiles should have a slight slope towards the bath so that splashes will drain back, but they should be flat enough that this is a good place to put soap, shampoos and so on. If the gap is small enough then just a trim strip may be sufficient.

Or as JACK says, finish the wall accurately with an appropriate type of drywall, and tile on that. If you want to pack the wall out, that's the right way to do it.

When you agreed to it as a solution, it was sensible. Don't blame yourself on this one. The problem isn't you agreeing to it, the problem is simply the half-assed way they've gone about it.

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    +1 to your last sentence especially. – Dan A. Sep 23 '20 at 21:29
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I disagree with some of the reasoning of the other answers.

  1. They should have furred out the wall. Everyone here agrees on this. They could have framed out more or just added shims/drywall layer... lots of methods here depending on how far you go out.
  2. Point that no one has brought up. Most bathrooms - normal ones - not the fit-for-a-king master... they are basically built around the tub or shower pan. Yours fits that bill. Why the hell would they even frame the bathroom without the specifications or the tub onsite. That is f'ing crazy and amateur amateur. Who was the general contractor and were they overseeing anything?? I would be worried about the entire house honestly.
  3. That is not a flat/proper substrate to attach things to. You can't just put tile on anything!!!
  4. I am not sure what the material is but it isn't thinset and if it is mastic it is a really cheap type. "Stuff" that you use to install tiles sticks to the tile. It doesn't bind to itself more and form cow patties. The binding material is "who-knows" but way way off. No matter what this stuff was going to fall down. That is given the first three points were done right.
  5. These are large large tiles. To install them properly (with thinset or similar material) you would back butter each piece and apply/trowel the thinset to the wall. The installer plopped a few big drops on each tile and stuck it on the wall. Even if steps 1-4 were done right the tiles would fall off.

So yea you have to take down the whole bathtub area. Even given that things 1-3 may not apply to the rest of the area, #4 and #5 will and these tiles will fall off too. The good thing is there is a high chance you can reuse these tiles if the rest were done the same way.

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TL;DR

Five-spotting is a really bad practice.

Per https://www.daltile.com/how-to/how-to-install-tile/how-to-install-large-format-tile:

When installing large format tile, there must be at least 90% mortar contact


It is hard to say whether the compound they used was mortar so I am not going to gripe about that.

The fact that they should have furred out the wall has already been covered in other answers.

What I want to concentrate on is making you aware of the technique which they employed to put the tiles up and it's called five-spotting. An utterly heinous method used by sub-par contractors. Even if the correct compound and furring was used you would still have been prone to this tile issue because they severely cut corners with your install.

Assuming that the walls and floors were done by the same contractor then all of the tile work NEEDS to be ripped out because I am 99.99567% positive that five-spotting was used for everything. Right now you are pitted against a neverending slew of tiles falling off the wall and possibly hurting someone, and your floor should start showing defects as well if it already hasn't.

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    This job is MUCH worse than what you're describing. – Glenn Willen Sep 23 '20 at 22:11

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