Do It Yourself Home Remodeling: How To Install Ceramic And Other Tile Over Vinyl

Find out the potential pitfalls of installing a new tile flooring over existing vinyl floors, and learn how to avoid common problems.

Many people, when faced with a remodeling assignment, feel that the preparatory work is much more tedious than the actual assignment. Nowhere is this truer than in laying new tile over an existing vinyl floor. Truly, in this situation, proper preparation can mean the difference between a successful project and a horrible waste of money.

Installing ceramic or other types of tile over an existing vinyl floor can create many problems. Normally when installing new flooring it is recommended that you remove the old flooring material and apply your new material directly to the sub-floor. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. If you feel that your vinyl tile may contain asbestos, certainly applying tile over the existing floor may be the best way to go. One caveat would be to never consider applying ceramic tile over cushioned vinyl. The cushioning doesn't allow for the rigid substructure that is necessary to prevent the ceramic tile from cracking when it is walked on.

There is a two-fold problem with applying ceramic tile over existing vinyl. The first is adhesion. It is recommended that you choose a latex modified thin set mortar that is approved for installation over vinyl sub-floors. You also should plan on sanding the surface of the existing floor to increase the adhesion of the thin set. It is important to note that if you suspect that your floor contains asbestos then you should not sand the surface, as it is important to keep the dust level of the tile to a minimum. It is worth mentioning that the bond of your new flooring to the vinyl will only be as good as the bond of the vinyl to the sub-floor. If your vinyl flooring is loose, bubbled, or has any sort of adhesion problem, then you will only be wasting money in laying new floor over the top of the vinyl.

The second problem with laying ceramic tile over existing vinyl is the strength of the sub-floor. Tile weighs considerably more than vinyl, and if the sub-floor is the typical 3/4 inch plywood, you are risking the integrity of the floor by putting ceramic tile down. If you know for a fact that your sub-floor is double layered exterior grade plywood, and your floor joists are a maximum of 16 inches on center, then you can certainly install the tile without worries. A less substantial floor and you risk damaging the tiles and the sub-floor as well. While it may seem inconsequential, the combination of the heavier tiles and the spacing of the floor joists can cause such strain on the tiles that they crack when the least bit of weight is applied to them. Rigid tiles, such as ceramic, porcelain or slate, require a rigid substructure.

As you can see, there are a variety of problems associated with applying ceramic tile over an existing vinyl floor. In situations where it is necessary to do so, plan ahead by finding out the composition of your sub-floor and gathering the proper materials for the job. Once you begin laying the tile, take your time and proceed just as you would in a regular tiling job, and, if you have done your homework, you should have success.

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