Can Ceramic Tile Be Layed Over Wood Laminate Flooring?

By Mark Morris

Many DIY decorators look for short cuts and simpler ways of achieving the results they want. With the advent of laminate floors, covering over the original flooring in homes became easy, and thus more common. Ceramic tile has been used as a flooring material for centuries. While you can lay ceramic tile over any laminate floor, certain conditions must exist for it to be successful.

Wood Laminate

Wood laminate flooring is a composite product made from wood fibers in an adhesive resin. The mixture is pressed into a board shape and has a melamine coating added on top with a photographic facsimile of wood grain printed on it. Laminate floors are typically installed using one of three methods: floating installation, which uses no adhesives or fasteners; nail down installation, which uses nails or staples to fasten the floor; and glue down, with a flooring adhesive sticking the boards to the floor.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is made from a special clay that is cast in a mold, then fired in a kiln to harden the clay into a strong tile. The tile is then glazed to create the color and a waterproof surface that is resistant to staining. Properly installed ceramic tile floors can last a lifetime, but the same rigidity and strength that makes ceramic such a long-lasting floor also make it challenging to install. Ceramic tile requires a firm, solid substrate for a proper installation surface.

Conditions for Application

Check your laminate flooring to determine what method was used to install it. Pry up the base shoe, or quarter round molding along one wall and examine the edge of the flooring. If nails or staples are visible, the floor is nailed down. If no staples or nails are present, pry up on a board. If it lifts easily, the floor is installed "floating." If not, the floor is glued down. To lay tile over it, your floor must be glued down to be rigid enough to provide a sufficiently inflexible foundation. You can never, under any circumstances, install tile on top of a floating laminate or hardwood floor.

Cement Backer Board

Ceramic tile should not be applied directly over the top of laminate flooring. Both tile adhesive and mortar require a porous surface to bond to, and the slick surface of laminate flooring is less than ideal. Lay 3-by-5 foot sheets of concrete backer board across your floor to provide the right surface. Cut your pieces to fit and screw them down with one screw every 10 to 12 inches. Apply the tile directly on top of the backer with tile mortar.

© Demand Media 2011