Find out what to do when your tile floor starts cracking and coming loose. Learn why tiles that pop off linoleum are evidence that the surface was not prepared properly. One solution is to take up all the tile and put down a 1/4-inch luan subfloor, or a mud floor if you need more stability. Another option is laminate flooring, which could be installed right on top of the tile. It locks together and you don't need to glue it down.
LESLIE: We’re going to North Carolina with Missy.
Missy, how can we help you?
MISSY: Hi, I have a terrazzo tile floor that has been laid down over vinyl and pieces are cracking  and coming up. Is there any way to fix this without having to remove the entire floor?
TOM: Wow, that sounds pretty nasty. So you said terrazzo tile.
TOM: Terrazzo in its pure state is basically marble chips that’s mixed up with a concrete mix and poured in between a metal frame. It does not sound like that’s what you have.
MISSY: (overlapping voices) Not what it is.
TOM: This is more of – this is a tile product?
MISSY: Yes, it’s this big 8x8 pieces of tiles?
TOM: OK. And they’re loosening up and popping off of this old linoleum . Well the reason –
TOM: There’s no surprise, Leslie, why they’re popping off, huh? You can’t …
LESLIE: Because they’re not bonded.
TOM: To a linoleum. Yeah, it’s plastic. So it wasn’t bonded properly. I fear that in your case, this is going to be a systemic problem, Missy.
MISSY: I was afraid you were going to say that.
TOM: Yeah, because you could chase these loose ones around but it’s going to be tough to get any kind of tile to attach itself to a vinyl surface.
LESLIE: Are they all popping up at the same time and when they do pop up are they just cleanly popping up or are they breaking and cracking?
MISSY: Some of them are cracking. Some of them are coming loose.
TOM: Yeah, it sounds like the surface was not prepared properly.
LESLIE: And it could be that the vinyl is wearing away or eroding from the adhesive and giving you an uneven surface underneath, which is why the tile is cracking .
TOM: And if the floor was not strong enough, you’re going to get some movement in that floor that’s going to make it even worse.
MISSY: It’s quite a large area, too.
TOM: Yeah, I think you’re going to be better off taking this all up and putting down a proper floor. I’d probably put a subfloor down, Missy, and the subfloor choice would probably be at least 1/4-inch luan. And if I needed more stability than that, I might put down a mud floor.
MISSY: There’s one part where it’s uneven, where the house – apparently there was like a breezeway or something where they added onto the house.
MISSY: Can that be evened out?
TOM: Yeah, there are leveling compounds that could be used there. If you’re going to be stuck on the ceramic tile, you’re certainly going to have to use a leveling compound. It comes to mind that you might also want to think about using a laminate floor. Laminate floors could right on top of that old tile or you could pop the old tile up and go right back on top of that vinyl. And they’re self-supporting – they lock together; they don’t glue down – and so there’s no way anything’s going to pop up if you put it down. And they come in strips or they come in tile shapes.
MISSY: Oh, good idea. Lot less work. Great.
TOM: OK, Missy.
MISSY: Thank you so much.
TOM: That solves your problem.
MISSY: Yes it does.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.