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Installing Tile Over Vinyl, Wood, & Concrete

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Installing Tile Directly To Wood Surfaces

Chip board, cushioned vinyl flooring, particle boards of any type, luan plywood, OSB (Oriented Strand Board), tongue & groove planking, and hardwood floors are unsuitable substrates to directly install ceramic tile over.

Although it can be done successfully, many experts believe that ceramic tile installed directly to plywood surfaces should be avoided whenever possible. Plywood has a smooth surface and tends to swell, warp, and delaminate when it is exposed to moisture. Install at your own risk.

Subfloor construction should consist of a double layered, 1-1/8" thick, exterior grade plywood installed over floor joists spaced a maximum of 16" on center. Face grains of first plywood layer should be installed perpendicular to joists for maximum stiffness and staggered with an 1/8" wide gap between each sheet. Install plywood panel edges 1/4" away from restraining surfaces, including perimeter walls, cabinetry, and door jambs. These are expansion gaps and should not be bridged with setting material. In addition, subfloor deflection should not exceed L/360 of span.

To prevent moisture from damaging the plywood substrate we recommend that a waterproofing membrane be installed per the manufacturer's instructions over all plywood surfaces to be tiled.

Install ceramic tile using a latex modified thinset mortar approved for use over plywood substrates.

Installing Tile Over Vinyl Or Linoleum Floor Coverings

Installing ceramic tile directly to vinyl or linoleum surfaces should be avoided whenever possible. Install at your own risk.

If you are concerned that your vinyl or linoleum flooring may contain asbestos fibers we recommend that you have it tested before attempting to remove it. For more information on asbestos, please refer to Asbestos In Your Home provided by the EPA.

In any case, vinyl or linoleum flooring must be a non-cushioned type and securely attached to the subfloor. Subfloor construction should consist of double layered, 1-1/8" thick, exterior grade plywood installed over floor joists spaced a maximum of 16" on center. The maximum allowable concentrated deflection of the subfloor may not exceed L/360 of the span.

If the floor covering does not contain asbestos fibers we recommend that the surface be scarified or sanded to provide a rougher surface for the thinset mortar to bond to.

Install ceramic tile using a latex modified thinset mortar approved by the manufacturer for installation over vinyl and linoleum surfaces.

Installing Tile Over Ceramic Tile Backerboards

Cement ceramic tile backerboards may also be installed over plywood subfloors and should be secured using 1-1/4" corrosion resistant roofing nails or 1-1/4" ribbed wafer head screws in combination with a thinset mortar bed. Screws or nails should be installed every 6" to 8" on center. Subfloor deflection should not exceed L/360 of span. Ceramic tile backerboards will add to the height of your new floor and may require height reducing thresholds or transition strips where tile meets carpet, vinyl, etc. Doors may also need to be trimmed. Refer to the backerboard manufacturer for specific product recommendations and limitations.

To prevent moisture from damaging the plywood subfloor we recommend that a waterproofing membrane be applied per the manufacturer's instructions over all ceramic tile backerboard surfaces installed in wet areas, including shower and tub wall facings.

Installing Tile Directly To Concrete Slabs

Paint, cutback adhesives, gypsum based fillers or levelers, sealers, or chemically treated cement substrates are unsuitable surfaces to install ceramic tile over and should be removed by non-chemical methods whenever possible.

Concrete substrates must be thoroughly cleaned prior to the installation of tile. To remove dust, mop cement slab using clean water only and allow to dry completely. Very smooth concrete may be roughened up or etched using an acid based solution designed for this purpose.

Make sure to fill in and float off any dips, humps, or waves on the concrete foundation using a portland cement based floor leveler. For dips, this product may be used to fill the cavity and screed off using a level or straight edge. For humps, apply the floor leveler around the base of the protrusion. Then, using the top of the hump as a guide, screed the floor around the base of the hump in a circular motion. This will help to lessen the impact the protrusion will have on your finished floor.

Most Portland cement based floor levelers need to cure for at least 24 hours before the tile can be installed.