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How to Tile Over an Uneven Floor

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    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tom in Rhode Island who’s kind of midway in a floor removal project and sort of stuck. (chuckling) Tom, what’s going on? You should have called before you started peeling off the flooring.

    TOM IN RHODE ISLAND: Yeah, you’re right, Leslie; I made a mistake. (Leslie chuckles) I thought it was going to be an easy job and after spending several hours of hammering and using scrapers, it’s not coming off. As I said, I’ve got about 20 percent of the low (ph) floor covering off. It’s not coming off completely; it’s leaving some type of a paper backing on it, so you can’t really see the plywood underneath. And I’m wondering, can I just put this commercial-grade tile over everything? Would that little bit of a drop show up or do I have to continue to take it off and what would be the best way?

    TOM: So you want to put down tile; ceramic tile?

    TOM IN RHODE ISLAND: No, commercial-grade – like linoleum; you know, the one-foot squares, the commercial-grade.

    TOM: Oh. Oh, the one-foot squares. Well, in that situation, yeah, it probably is going to show up. What I would do, in this case, Tom, is I would put down underlayment. So I would put down 1/4-inch luan mahogany, plywood underlayment. You want to nail it with something called a ring nail – which is like a grooved nail that goes in and just doesn’t come out – across the entire surface. Now you’ll have a flat surface. And in that case, you can probably get away with just going right on top of the area that you tore out. May be a slight dip there but not much that’s noticeable.

    LESLIE: Should he put like a piece of tile that he removed under there just to sort of level it out?

    TOM: You know, maybe; that’s not a bad idea. You could use a piece of the old linoleum as a shim. But this way you’ll have a very clean, dry, flat surface that the glue for the new tiles can stick to very, very easily.

    TOM IN RHODE ISLAND: Now this luan underlayment, will this have to be treated prior to putting the new square …

    TOM: No, no. No.

    TOM IN RHODE ISLAND: No?

    TOM: No, no. You go right on top of it. It’s designed for this …

    TOM IN RHODE ISLAND: OK, how far apart should the nails be; the ring nails?

    TOM: Eight on the edge, six in the middle. So it’s called eight on the edge, six in the field. So eight nails where you have the end of the board and then six in the middle of the board at each floor joist.

    TOM IN RHODE ISLAND: OK. Oh, excellent, excellent. Thank you very much. You two have been a big help.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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