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Tile Floor Q's & A's

Thickness Issues | Laying/Replacing | Repairing | Grout | Removing | Other
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Can Floor Tiles Be Laid Directly on Wood?

My wife & I would like to put tile in our kitchen. I'm getting ready to take out 3 layers of linoleum to get to a hardwood floor. I'd hoped to put tile on top of the hardwood floor. But I was told I would need to take the hardwood floor up, put down dur-a-rock and then put tile down, if I put tile on wood it would give and tiles would crack. Anyone else with similar situation. And any hints on tiling?

Is there subfloor under the hardwood floor, or is it laid right on the joists. If the hardwood floor is on top of subflooring and the combined thickness of the two are over an inch (which is likely) You can probably lay the tile on the hardwood. I would check around on this where tile is sold, but the 1 inch rule is the one I remember.

Ceramic Tile over Plywood?

I have a 3/4 inch tongue & groove plywood floor decking in my home. Can I put ceramic tile directly over this in my upstairs bathroom, with mastic? Or should I put down a concrete backer board or more plywood first?

First off, the total thickness of subfloor and underlayment should be 1 1/8 inch. Any flexing of the floor will crack tiles or grout joints. Second... plywood CDX can be used, but the backer board is better, and since you don't have and plywood underlayment on there now.. go with the backer board. Backer board is recommended for bathrooms since it is not affected by water. It doesn't expand or contract so it will help eliminate cracking that way too.

Laying Ceramic Floor Tile on Multiple Floor Layers

I am wanting to lay ceramic floor tile in our kitchen and realize I have to pull up two vinyl floors , a layer of masonite and the original tile floor. I am wondering how far down to I have to go to lay ceramic tile or do I need to lay something else for the tile to rest on? Also, my floor is slightly sloped in one end due to jacking up the house. What problems will this cause me in laying ceramic tiles.?

It is often easier, cheaper, and less time consuming to simply go over existing linoleum and subfloors than to rip up and remove them. The deciding factor is, whether going over the old floors with new will disrupt the operation of existing doors.

For example, the BEST method of installing ceramic tile is to first lay a base of HardiBacker concrete board. This is at minimum 1/4 inch thick. This backer gets screwed to the existing floor. You then install a layer of thinset about 3/8ths inch thick, to which a floor tile of 3/8ths in laid.

The bottom line is 1/4in backer; 3/8 thinset; plus 3/8 tile rises above the existing floor by a full inch...and possibly more.

The PRACTICALITY IS if this new floor extends above thresholds to the point where exterior steel doors cannot open properly, THEN the pre-existing layers of linoleum/subfloors must be removed to lower the height of the new finished floor.

Laying Ceramic Tile-- Making Sure Doors Will Open

My front door threshold (bottom of door) is only 1/2" above the floor. I understand that to lay ceramic tile properly I need to put down durarock, or hardibacker board prior to the tile, but then I won't be able to open the door! If the (plywood-two layers) floor is solid, can the tile be laid right on the plywood floor??

You can lay the tile right over the plywood but there is no guarantee the tiles will hold. I suggest removing one layer of plywood, then filling with HardiBacker and tile.

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Replacing Bathroom Floor Tiles: Can Be Placed On Cement?

I was wondering, I wanted to replace the bathroom tiles with new ones, we removed the tiles currently placed and the cement layer under it and came upon a straight/flat layer. I'd like to know, do I have to remove that layer and install wood over it before I put the tiles, or can the tiles be placed over the layer under the cement? Thanks.

Not sure if I completely understand the issue, but tile ought to be laid over cement board or a poured masonry subfloor, never over a wood substrate.

Laying New Tile Floor: Special Grout & Other Earthquake Issues

I don't know if this is the right site for these questions, but since this is a home project, I'll start with you. We are about to resume renovation of our house. The tile in the bathroom, entry hall and kitchen has suffered a series of cracks. It looks like some maniacal spider was turned loose. I would like to retile these areas.

I am a potter and I want to make the tile myself. No worries. I've run a semi-professional shop in the past and I know what I'm doing with the tile. It is the grout and the foundation for the tile that I have questions about.

This is earthquake country. I am spiting' distance from the Loma Prieta fault and a hop or two from San Andreas. Lots of land movement. While I was working at the pottery in Mountain View someone mentioned that there were techniques in laying the base for the tile and grouts that included silicon which gave the tile bed enough flexibility to weather most temblors. Silly me, I didn't take notes.

I would appreciate any information you can give me before I go to the trouble of making all that tile. Either tips on techniques and products to use or source material. Anything at all. I'd like at least a fighting chance at success here.

It would help to know what kind of subfloor you are dealing with first. If your house is built on a slab, I would suggest abandoning your idea of tile altogether since it sounds as though the slab may have already cracked resulting in the spiders from Mars effect.

Maybe you are talking about the additive you add to the grout, which contains either latex or silicone. It is supposed to make the grout more flexible and resistant to cracks. All the major home stores and tile stores would carry it. You add it to the powder grout instead of adding water.

Laying Ceramic Floor Tile over Concrete and Vinyl

I need to know how to install ceramic floor tiles 12x12 over a concrete floor and over old glued down vinyl. I have purchased special glue/mortar for the installation over the vinyl flooring.

wow... I could write a full article on this.. DO you have a specific question??

I guess.... a few hints.. I always rent a tile saw. It costs about $50 for a day.. but I think it is worth it. Layout your tile to allow for the least amount of cutting.. but if the whole floor, will show.. balance is best.. so if the tile needs to be cut on both sides.. I would go that way. If the floors will be covered with furniture and both edges can't be seen from the doorways.. then you can go with the least cut method...

Use the little plastic tile spacers.. they work great Let me know what you would like to know to get started.. or where you are unsure...

Subflooring before Laying New Tile

What do I need to know about putting a subfloor over an old floor before putting down new tile in the bathroom and kitchen and carpet in the other rooms?

The total thickness of subfloor and underlayment under tile should be at least 1 1/8 inch thick. The material under tile should be exterior grade plywood CDX or better. However, tile backer board is best, especially in the bathroom. (It is unaffected by water) . It is also more rigid and made for under tile flooring. Under your carpets, you can get away with plywood or even particleboard. Plywood is better ,(but more expensive).

Ceramic Tile Installation: Nails vs. Screws, Backerboard Issue, & Using Drywall Tape

I put down 1/4" cement board with 1 1/4" drywall screws over the existing laminate. Should I have used Shank roofing nails? Do I need to tape the seams and how can I be sure that the floor is flat enough (the screws tends to lift the board directly around the screw) to lay tile this weekend?

I just recently re-tiled my upstairs bathroom and installed 1/4" backerboard as my new sub-floor. I used the screws for backerboard and had some problems with them drilling into the board. For my next tile job that requires backerboard, I will use the roofing nails, less headache. You should leave at least an 1/8" gap between your backerboards so that there is room for the mortar and then use tape for floors, I was told not to use drywall tape. If there are some areas that are not level, at this point I wouldn't worry about it since you will be adding at least 1/4" of thin set mortar and you can use a short 2"X4" with a rubber mallet to level the tiles to each other.

One major tip: Wear some very good knee pads, since you will be spending most of the time there on your knees.

Repairing Slate Flooring

A couple pieces of slate flooring (irregular - 6x8 inch-ish) in our front door entryway have came loose from the adhesive & have come up. getting them reseated in new adhesive & regrouted & not disturAbing the remaining pieces seems to be a formidable problem. I'm not even sure what kind of adhesive. appears as regular mortar.

If your stones are set in a mortar it is probably a thinset mortar which can be picked up at any lumber yard. Your local ceramic tile dealer can recommend a good adhesive to use to replace a couple of stones though and possibly a colored grout to match the existing joints which I feel will be your biggest problem. You don't say how old the floor is but aging grout can be hard to match.

Removing & Replacing Ceramic Floor Tile

I need to remove 1 ceramic floor tile and replace it. What is the best way to remove without damaging surrounding tiles. Also I have plenty of left over grout but no mortar. Is there any other product to use to reset the tile without buying a big bag of mortar?

You will probably have to chip and chisel the old tile out. Also.. carefully remove all the grout from around the old/new tile. (Chipping it out) They do sell in small containers ready mixed mortar for small repairs.

Removing Rust Stains from Tile

What's the best method of removing spot rust stains from ceramic tile (white)?

You can use a product called CLR (calcium-lime-rust) available from hardware stores and supermarkets.

Removing Dried Grout on Flagstone

How can dried grout be removed from the surface of flagstone as well as the grout film.

Keith, There is a tool called a grout remover that you can by at Loews or home depot in the flooring department.

Removing Old Grout

I'm curious if there is an easy way to remove the old grout on my large entry way tile floor?

I've used a Dremel and the old hammer and cold chisel method. Both have proved to be inefficient and extremely time consuming.

Unfortunately short of tearing up your old floor there is no easy way to remove old grout between tile. The grout is a cement and sand mix, which can only be removed by mechanical means as you have been doing. Depending what your purpose for removal is may dictate a less severe approach. If you are going to regrout, which would be my guess, you may want to try just removing part of the grout at least 1/4" deep with a carbide grout removing tool available at most tile supply or hardware stores. Simply remove to this minimum depth dampen and re-grout as done originally.

Re-Grouting/Grout Painting

I do not like the color of the grout on the brick floor in my foyer. Is it possible to re grout over the existing grout, or is it possible to paint the grout? The floor has not been sealed.

I recently tore out the linoleum that was hiding the original tile in my 75-year-old house. It's the old 1-inch hexagonal ceramic tile. After using adhesive remover to get all the linoleum adhesive off. I took some tile/grout acid wash, which I purchased at Home Depot, and used it to etch into the grout a little bit. You could do the same by hand with a knife or small screwdriver, but with my small tiles it would have taken too long.

Anyways, after finishing the acid wash, I put grout colorant (which can also be found at Home Depot or other big Home Improvement stores) over the grout lines. It takes 45 minutes to dry. Then you scrub any excess off the tiles with a scotchbrite plastic scrubber pad. The ones with the scrubber pad on one side of a sponge work well b/c you can scrub the excess off the tiles, then wipe it up with a sponge. Do not use steel wool of any kind.

I was quite pleased with the results. It wasn't perfect, but I didn't expect it to be given the poor shape of the grout I was coloring and the amount of grout involved. It was pretty close though. I would imagine if you have newer grout it would work wonderfully.

Removing Stubborn Grout Haze?

We installed a tile floor a couple of months ago. We had a lot of trouble removing the grout haze. There's still a lot that we can't seem to remove. Is there anything that can be done now? Also-- how do you avoid this problem in the future? We followed the instructions of wiping up the haze with a wet sponge continuously.

BTW, it is not enough just to clean the tile with a wet sponge when removing the grout. This must be usually done a few times, then completely BUFFED with a clean dry cloth to completely remove any grout haze from forming.

You can use phosphoric acid solution to remove the haze. There are also additives you can add to your rinse water that prevents hazing.

Removing Ceramic Tile

How hard is it to remove ceramic tile, and what would be the procedure? I would like to replace smaller 8x8 tiles with larger 13x13, if it's not too difficult.

Removing ceramic tile is easy. Take a hammer and break it. The mortar underneath will break along with the tile. Once the tile is removed just measure out the area and layout the tile and going to a larger size tile should be alright.

Ceramic vs. Vinyl

We have a vinyl tensonflex floor and are thinking about changing to ceramic tile. My question is has anyone done this? Do you like or dislike, and gone back to what you had previously?

We replaced our vinyl floor in half the house with ceramic tile and we love the tile. Wouldn't go back or have it any other way.

Another opinion I had several layers of vinyl removed and replaced with ceramic by a pro in my kitchen. It came out fantastic. I intend to have the same contractor do my front entry foyer before Christmas. All I can say is forget the vinyl. There's no comparison.

Refinishing Brick Pavers

Our 70's house has Green brick pavers that seem to have been finished in Green. Is there some way to remove the green finish and just get down to the brick underneath?

If it is a sealer/clear coat or paint, mythelyne chloride is the fastest way, but somewhat dangerous. Some paints are a masonry base and muratic acid will work best.

Dilute the acid about 3 to 1 and get an acid brush with a long handle, wet down the brick with water then dip your brush in a bucket of your acid solution and scrub and scrub and then rinse. If it is a clear coat(green tint) or paint, let me know and I will walk you through the steps for stripping.

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