Tile Over an Old Floor
LESLIE: Cal in Pennsylvania needs some help with a tiling project. What’s going on?
CAL: I’m retiling my kitchen floor and when I took up the old floor, I realized it was mounted on previous linoleum which was on top of particleboard. And what I’m looking to do is properly install tile without tearing up the particleboard and I want to get back to almost exactly the same height as possible.
TOM: Now is the old tile directly on top of this linoleum that you uncovered?
CAL: Yes, with thinset or some sort of adhesive.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK, mm-hmm. And did it seem to have stood up OK; like it didn’t crack or move or become loose? Was it pretty solid?
CAL: There was one cracked tile. These were …
CAL: … six-inch tiles or eight-inch tiles. There was one cracked tile. It was cracked when I moved into the house three years ago and I don’t know what …
TOM: Well, listen; one cracked tile is not much to worry about. While it’s not technically the correct thing to do, your best bet is probably to put tile right back on the surface that you took it off of and to add some glue and use a thinset material or a thinset adhesive and try to reglue right to that vinyl floor again. Now if it held up the first time, it’s probably going to hold up the second time. The best way to do this would be to put a tile backer, but you’re concerned about the height and I understand why. And of course, you want to avoid going any deeper on the tear-out. But since it worked the first time, I think it’ll be OK the second time.
I would caution you, though, to not use a very wide tile because wide tiles are more unstable and if there’s any flex in that floor, anything that’s uneven, you’ll get more cracked tiles. But if you stick with something in that eight-inch area or smaller that you had, I think you’ll probably be OK.