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Installing Ceramic Tile Over Vinyl Flooring

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Jeff in Tennessee is tackling a flooring project in a bathroom. Tell us what you’re working on.

    JEFF: Well, I’m in a quandary because I’ve been told I can’t do what I want to do but that’s not unusual.

    TOM: OK.

    JEFF: I’ve got a vinyl floor in a bathroom and I want to put down tile and I wanted to minimize or eliminate the extra work. And I wanted to put the tile over the vinyl flooring.


    JEFF: And it’s just ceramic tile. It’s not a large area. It’s got a vanity and a bath/shower combination and a toilet.

    TOM: Is it fairly small ceramic tile?

    JEFF: Twelve inch.

    TOM: Ooh, 12 inch. OK. So you need a really solid floor for this, which means you’re going to have to put down WonderBoard or a mud floor. Because if you try to put this down over the vinyl or over, say, luan plywood or something like that, it will most likely be too much flex in the floor. And tiles don’t bend, especially the big, wide, 12-inch ones.

    So, your first priority is going to be to pull everything out of that bathroom and put down a solid floor – solid subfloor – and then you can tile on top of that. That’s the biggest part of that project.

    JEFF: Now, Tom, if I do that, does that mean if I put – and I guess some people call that HardieBacker board or something like that.

    TOM: Right. WonderBoard or HardieBacker, yep. Mm-hmm.

    JEFF: OK. And if I put that down, am I going to have to raise that – the toilet – in order to accommodate the tile and that backer?

    TOM: Yeah. But there’s an extension that you could put on the flange that will bring that up that inch or so that you’ll need.

    JEFF: And I guess I’ll probably have to look at cutting off the bottom part of the door to accommodate the threshold of that.

    TOM: Yeah but that’s easy enough to do.

    JEFF: Now, you indicated that – and you kind of cringed a little bit when I said 12 inch. Would it accommodate smaller tile?

    TOM: Well, I mean it’s a design question but when you have wide tile like that in a bathroom, it will tend to crack. You know, the floors get soft and bouncy, especially around the toilet, so it’s really critical that it be properly supported.

    And the trend now is, surprisingly so, to go wider tile. It used to be that you would – in a small bathroom, you would use a small tile. But now, the trend seems to be opposite to that and they’re using a lot more wider tile because it makes the room look bigger.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And other options, as far as tile size in a small space, is going with a tile that’s more plank-size, so it almost looks as if it’s a plank of lumber. Maybe it’s 6×24 and then laying it out brick-style as you would wood floor. And that can also help make the space feel larger but again, because of the size of the tile, you have to make sure that that subfloor and that base is very stable and really secure. Because if there is any movement, that tile is going to crack.

    JEFF: I just can’t get around being lazy. I’m going to have to go the whole route.

    LESLIE: If you want it to last for a long, long time and save you from doing that project again, then yes.

    JEFF: Thank you so very much. I really enjoy your show and catch it as often as I can.

    TOM: Well, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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