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HDB owner shares moments of unexpected tile “explosion” in living room

A Facebook user shared videos of tiles exploding in his living room in early October. Concerned netizens advised reporting to HDB, suggesting similar incidents in other locations. Experts link the issue to weather, workmanship.



SINGAPORE: In a startling turn of events, a Facebook user named Teddy Ho recently shared two videos in the Singapore Home DIY group, showcasing a bizarre and concerning incident that unfolded in his living room.

On the afternoon of 8 October, at approximately 3:20 pm, the tiles in his living space seemingly exploded, causing extensive damage.

The explosion of tiles encompassed multiple areas of Ho’s living room, including underneath his dining table, in the hallway, and in front of his television set.


The aftermath left a trail of cracked, dislodged, and completely shattered tiles, prompting a wave of speculation and advice from concerned netizens.

Some users urged Teddy Ho to report the incident to the Housing and Development Board (HDB), a governmental agency overseeing public housing in Singapore.

They also mentioned that similar incidents had been reported in various locations.

Others recommended that he investigate whether the incident falls within the 15-year period during which HDB may assist with necessary repairs.

Exploring the causes of unexpected tile issues in flats 

Several reasons might have contributed to this phenomenon of unexpected tile explosion.

Experts cited by Channel News Asia have suggested that the cooler-than-usual climate, combined with humidity, might be contributing to this phenomenon.

Dean Lim, Vice-President of the Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association (RCMA), pointed out that moisture trapped beneath the tiles could react to sudden temperature changes.

For instance, extended use of a ceiling light in the flat below generating heat could disrupt the bonding of cement, causing tiles to dislodge.

The cooler weather itself might result in more significant expansions and contractions, potentially leading to tiles popping.

Alvin Wong, Managing Director of the interior design firm Aristo Group, echoed this sentiment, suggesting that rapid drops in temperature could cause cracks.

However, experts noted that while weather plays a role, poor workmanship is a significant contributor to the problem.

Associate Professor Zhao Zhiye from Nanyang Technological University’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering emphasized that proper bonding between tiles and the adhesive material behind them could reduce thermal expansion and stress concentration.

Contractors also highlighted that poorly made cement screed, which can result from incorrect mixing proportions of sand, cement, and water, may lead to air pockets underneath tiles that eventually pop.

Since June 2015, tilers have been required to use pre-packed cement, which is pre-mixed to the right proportion but is more expensive than raw cement and sand.

In addition to weather and workmanship, natural wear and tear as moisture in cement screed evaporates over time can cause tiles to crack and pop.

Experts cited by Straits Times have also outlined similar factors that play a role in tiles separating from the floors of these flats.

These factors predominantly involve weather variations, construction quality, and the effects of natural wear and tear.

MND’s guidelines on maintenance and repairs for dislodged tiles in HDB flats

The Ministry of National Development (MND) had previously issued a written response in February 2021, emphasizing the responsibility of flat owners for maintaining their properties, which includes addressing issues related to general wear and tear.

However, the MND clarified that HDB would offer assistance to flat owners for repairing dislodged tiles originally provided by HDB, for a period of up to 15 years.

In cases involving flats older than 15 years, flat owners would be required to engage their own contractors for tile replacements.

HDB could furnish these owners with a list of repair contractors for private engagements.

Additionally, residents may seek advice by calling the HDB branch hotline at 1800-225-5432 or contact the Emergency and Maintenance Services Unit, the details of which are typically listed on the lifts at HDB flat blocks.

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tiles too closely packed and never create gap for heat expansion. also could be tremors. hope none of the HDB blocks collapse.

“…. the MND clarified that HDB would offer assistance to flat owners for repairing dislodged tiles originally provided by HDB, for a period of up to 15 years….” ———- Good luck with this clarification. The tiles if originally provided by HDB when the BTOs were first built would be difficult to find/replace/match. Doubtful the HDB contractor(s) would keep stock of many tiles for many units over a 15 years period. Most likely they will tell the affected owners to replace the entire flooring, maybe split the cost 50-50. Recall a concrete fairing fell out from a flat in AMK(?). It… Read more »

The tile popping and breaking in the video looks like it was cased by changes in the underlying concrete structure. I.e., Thermal expansion or changes in the room dimension due to settling of the building. Concrete can flex, but tiles cannot. If it is thermal expansion, it suggests that the structure is poorly insulated, since heat can easily penetrate from the exterior or from adjacent units. Since today’s BTOs are being built at record time and at the lowest possible cost, I wouldn’t be surprised if short-cuts were taken during construction. Are defective concrete pre-fabs getting through whatever quality assurance… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Blankslate

Condo per sq ft way over $2000, HOW MUCH DID YOU LOCAL HDB BTO OR WHATEVER ‘O’ PAY per sq ft?
So you think you got skilled jiu hu kia tilers or Mumbai ,Bangalore, Ah Tiong ones?
Same like asking …do you want 3 meals in a RESTAURANT, FOOD COURT OR KOPI TIAM?
The above line sounds familiar, like used before by someone!😆😆😆😆🤣🤣😆😆😆😆😆

The linear cracking/popping seen in the video/photos is highly unlikely due to poor bonding between tiles and floor – there is a certain mechanism that causes such failure. HDB and the interviewed experts just trying to smoke us. Oh, the sotong 61% will believe it is an act of God too.

HDB “offer assistance”? Sure or not? Their website will tell you that it is within your home. You can contact “approved contractors” to fix the problem at YOUR OWN COST. And then you find out that most contractors not interested in such “small job”. HDB also wash hands off. You lan lan, on your own.

“….the MND clarified that HDB would offer assistance to flat owners for repairing dislodged tiles originally provided by HDB…” ———— Total nonsense about the cooler weather is a major contributing factor. If it is indeed the weather, then every household with the same tiles installed by the same HDB contractor(s) at about the same time see the same problem. HDB is just too arrogant to admit its contractors have varying quality standards. Went through HIP with them and we see some units have OK quality, others have many issues. Blame the weather, hor? Another recurring FAILURE from our million$ how-lian… Read more »