Colleen Swiridowsky
Colleen Swiridowsky
  • Hometalker
  • Middletown, CT
Asked on Oct 3, 2012

Can Ceramic Tile be lay'd over press on floor tile?

FloorNerdKneeDeep Ponds, Inc.Colleen Swiridowsky
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Answered

My apt 1/2 bath has the cheap press on tile that has moved soo much and spaces show. I want to try and find an affordable ceramic tile and redo the floor. It just looks cheap and crappy. Can I apply it over the old press on tile? How do I remove it???
13 answers
  • FloorNerd
    on Oct 3, 2012

    no you can not install tile over that. take a heat gun and remove peal and stick tiles. find out what and how much plywood you have. you will need to add cement board then tile.

  • Too add to what Mark Potter said. He is correct about laying tile over the old. If it is not stuck really hard, any additional flooring over will simply move as well. When he said how much plywood you have, he means how thick the floor is. If you have at least a 3/4 plywood floor along with at least a 3/4 inch sub floor, most likely you do not have to make it any thicker. Many people use cement boards for the flooring as it offers both a very stable surface to apply the new tile, but is also offers additional thickness to the floor making it even more stiff and less inclined to flex when walked upon. This is the primary reason why the floor tile cracks. This does take some effort to put this down as it must be set in a layer of thinset to help it bond to the surface along with many screws to assure a good solid floor surface. However if you do have about an inch and a half thick floor and there is no bounce when you walk upon it you can tile over the plywood as long as you use a underlayment such as Ditra http://www.schluter.com/6_1_ditra_installation.aspx This uncoupling membrane prevents cracking of the grout due to expansion and contraction of the wood surface below during seasonal changes in the humidity in the house. But it should only be used if you know that there is no flex to the floor as it will not prevent movement which many people think it does. Cement board offers the same thing, and adds an additional layer of stiffness if the floor is suspect. But a bit harder to install.

  • KneeDeep Ponds, Inc.
    on Oct 12, 2012

    I am currently on bathroom number 4 and have used the Ditra uncoupling membrane in each. We are using Travertine and did not want to deal with cracked tile at some point in the future. I have probably gone overboard by laying 3/4" T and G OSB over an existing 1/2" sub-floor and 1/2" Durock cement board and the Ditra. All of the bathrooms are on second floor or crawl space settings so I was concerned with as close to zero flex as I could get. The first bathroom done in this way is now 5 yo and no problems

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  • The Ditra is overboard if your using Cement board. All the membrane does is to take up movement if the wood under it shrinks or swells. When using cement board any movement is below it and not above so the tile or the grout lines will not crack. uncoupling membrane is only required when applying two different materials that have a different shrink or swell movement. But I am with you, I over kill my installs as well.

  • FloorNerd
    on Oct 13, 2012

    it is not recomended to have cbu & ditra on the same floor, it's one or the other. if your subfloor is getting to high then ditra is the option.

  • Mark I am curious why you cannot have both. See it done all the time. Each are uncoupling membrane but the cement board provides a bit more extra strength to the mix. I have never seen or heard of that, perhaps it is something I missed when using it. But have done this on several occasions and never had a call back. I do agree that to much underlayment also can be a bad thing. Both height wise and movement wise, but is there any other reason? Would be good to know. Bob

  • FloorNerd
    on Oct 13, 2012

    @ Woodbridge, you do not want to use both and this is what I have learned why not to do so ..... Ditra and cbu hold no structure value to a subfloor your plywood does, so long story short your cbu board is a filler to help hold thinset to plywood and thinset to tile because if you tile right over plywood the thinset in some cases does not hold down the tile. So the more filler you add the more your giving tile deflection more movement between tile to subfloor you will have. I know it sounds nit picky and even though I have tiled on plywood and still holds to this day I would not suggest what is not recommended in online forums when others asks for legit advice.

  • I understand what your saying, But from what I have learned from Schulter both in local classes that they had and from everything I have read. The Ditra is designed to prevent lateral movement from one material to another. it has nothing to do with adhesion, or so I have been told from those who showed me how to use their product. When using tile over any plywood surface one needs a bonding agent which from what I gather in your answer we agree upon. There is from what I understand only three real methods to achieve this. All of this assumes that the floor does exceed the maximum flex L/360 1. Put tar paper down on wood, then cover with expanded metal mesh that is fasted down every six inches or so. Then using unmodified thinset install tiles. 2. Put down cement board in a thinset base of modified thinset and fasten with screws in a pattern of around six or eight inches apart. Then place tile using a modified thinset. 3.Put down modified thinset down followed by Ditra. then once dry install tile using Unmodified thinset. The difference between the two types of thinset modified and unmodified is that the Modified thinset will all evaporation of the moisture through the surface of the material it is being applied to. The unmodified thinset chemically sets without evaporation of the moisture. So in the case of the plastic Ditra and the tile both that restricts moisture movement to some extent. They require the use of the unmodified material. As far as using plywood as a base, then adding the cement board, then using the Ditra uncoupling membrane mat. It is overkill, but other then height or overkill with materials and time. There is nothing wrong with doing it that way. I do agree however that cement board installs over a weak sub floor is not the solution to prevent movement. Although it may prevent cracking because of some stiffing abilities, It is not entirely the correct method to assure that the floor will not still flex beyond the L/360 rate. Now to throw a curve ball at this whole thing. There are a lot of theories along with many manufactures stating in their install instructions to use Modified even though the standard is to use the Unmodified stuff. Using that theory everything I have learned is right even if I do it wrong. It is all dependent upon who you train with and what the product manufacture suggests that you use to get the warranty on their product. Thanks Mark, you have given me even more excuses to look into this a bit further. Keep it up, I will never get any sleep. lol

  • FloorNerd
    on Oct 14, 2012

    it sounds like you really have don your home work on this lol good read and very respectiple opionion you have thanks. the way I look at it is both aplications cbu and ditra need trowling which would be the ability for movment Imo. It is over kill and I personally think ditra should be used for wet beds - shower stalls.

  • Colleen Swiridowsky
    on Oct 14, 2012

    It's an apartment and it's my 1/2 bath off the kitchen and over the laundry room so I can believe it gets moisture from both. The floor might be flexible, it creeks when you walk into it. I do have room for the height, the hall/foyer which leads to the kitchen/basement stairs is higher than that floor anyway. Would someone at Lowe's or Home Depot be able to help me find a solvent for the sticky residue that the press on tile left??? I used the heat gun and pulled up the tile on most of the floor. What's my option???

  • FloorNerd
    on Oct 14, 2012

    a belt sander might be a way to go. but if your floor already sqeaks then you will need to reinforce if by sistering the joists or adding more ply.

  • KneeDeep Ponds, Inc.
    on Oct 14, 2012

    If the floor joist are sound and its the sub floor that creeks do an overlay of 3/4" OSB and glue (contractor grade) and screw it to the joist, the screws need to be long enough to go through and into the joist, 2" at least. I like using the screws for Durock because they are moisture resistant. I had sub flooring that creeked did this and no more creeks. When I pulled up the carpet in our living room I had the same problem. Because we were not ready to work on that room I took screws and everywhere there was a nail I put a screw on either side of it. When the screws tightened down the nail popped and was then pulled out. Like I said no more creek. Good luck Colleen

  • FloorNerd
    on Oct 15, 2012

    It's hard for any of us to really know what Colleen has for a subfloor. She does have options of pulling all up to joists and doing it right, or to go over it with 1/2" staggered correctly and overlapping seams a foot or so then using ditra then tile. But it's a apartment so one could only know how much ply could be on the floor... Hopefully it's only 3/4" If Colleen can find this info out for us we would better be able to provide better answers. Post some pics Colleen! :)

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