What is the acceptable deflection for a floor that will be tiled?
Traditionally, the accepted minimum requirement for floor rigidity is L/360 – before the tile underlayment is installed. The L/360 standard means that the floor should not deflect more than the “span” divided by 360. If the span of the joists is 10 feet (between supports), then the deflection should not be more than 1/3″ between the center and the end. Frequently, there is misunderstanding regarding deflection between joists. For example, while joist manufacturers regularly meet the standard L/360 criteria for code construction with 24″ o.c. (on center) systems, these floors often have deflection between the joists exceeding L/360. Recent research has shown tile to fail, under some conditions, when the floor is more rigid than L/360. In fact, failures at L/600 have been observed. It is for this reason that recommendations for floor rigidity are not based on deflection measurements but on empirically established methods found to work over normal code construction.