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I'm a framing sub by day, but a friend of mine roped me into helping him tile his kitchen next weeked. My question for the pros relates to subfloor layers:

The house was built in 1922, joists are sheathed with the old school 1x4 planking, and a layer of 1/2" ply has since been laid on top of those, covered with vinyl. Do I need to rip out the 1/2" ply before the backer board goes down or can we lay it directly on top? What's the best way to rip out the ply?? (keep in mind the vinyl is glued to it------no screw holes to find, and I'm assuming the ply was glued to the planking.)

Any thoughts, tips??? ( or should I just run while I have the chance??)
 

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What is the condition of the floor in regard to flex? What is the joist spacing.

You potentially could not rip out anything, including the vinyl. It is fine to tile over vinyl by thinsetting and screwing the CBU right over the vinyl.
 

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Mike, thanks for the reply.

I went and checked it again, the joists are 2x8, 16" oc. I was wrong on the planking----we tore more of the ceiling apart from the underside and the planking is actually 1x12, don't know if that makes a difference.

Flex was negligible, as far as I could tell. Floor felt pretty stiff, one or two minor squeaks but nothing major.

Does that sound sufficiently strong to hold the tile?
 

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You also need to know the span of the joist to determine whether or not the existing framing will hold a tile install. Use the calculator located on this page to determine if the floor will sustain a tile installation as is. http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/deflecto.pl

But that vinyl absolutely needs to go. Vinyl's top layer is made of a material, similar to plastic, that no mastic or mortar will stick to very well. Some people will suggest roughing up the surface to get a better bond, but this method has been proven to be unsuitable and is not approved. The level of bonding achieved is still not enough for successful tile installation.

There's at least 4 reasons why tile over vinyl won't work.
1. You'll have a much better bond to the substrate.
2. Most vinyl is installed over 1/4" plywood, particleboard or luan. They are not approved substrates for the use of tile or natural stone because of their composition and/or performance. They should be no part of a substrate for tile.
3. You will not be able to determine the anchoring pattern of floor underneath the vinyl, which is key to a stable floor.
4. Transitions will be needed where your increased floor height would meet up with the exisiting height of other areas.

Vinyl and linoleum are more compressible than other, more suitable, materials. If you were to install tile on these cushioned floors, it would be unstable and you'd develop cracks in either the tile or the grout.

The argument that vinyl or linoleum is a 'slip sheet', a surface that lets the tile layer move independently from the substrate (since there is no bond), is misleading since it neither takes the compressive nature of vinyl and linoleum into account nor the possible effects of moisture being introduced from beneath.

"Can I put backerboard or underlayment over my linoleum or vinyl and install tile over it?". Again, the answer is no. You have not dealt with the compressive nature of these products and this effect will be transferred through the backerboard to the tile, resulting in failure due to cracking.

Short answer, it's absolutlely never acceptable practice to install tile over vinyl. As to how many layers of subfloor, tile substrate should be a minimum of 1-1/8", best provided with two layers of 5/8" ACX plywood, never use osb or particle board under tile.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'll check on the joist length, thanks for the link.

Is it 1 1/8" and then the backerboard, or would the backerboard directly over the 1" planking suffice?
 

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You're doing all of this on Superbowl weekend???

Your buddy better be supplying lots of beer and a good spread during the game! LOL
 

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As pointed out, tiling directly to vinyl would be a disaster. The reason being your bond is only as good as the vinyl bond to the subfloor. You could achieve a perfectly good bond of the tile to the vinyl, however if the vinyl lifts off the sub-floor, the tile will go with it - that would not be good.

However, I disagree that the vinyl needs to go, as long as the vinyl is over a wood sub- acceptable practice calls for an underlayment of CBU screwed through the vinyl to the plywood underneath. This is standard practice and keeps warranties intact. You will be tiling on the new surface and the bond of the CBU will be excellent due to it being screwed down to the subflooring. Doing this is a superior tiling surface than removing vinyl and tiling directly to plywood. Always tile to CBU and you won't ever be sorry.

From your discription it sounds like you are in fine shape. Just to be sure and to guarantee a trouble free tile floor I would recommend you use a thinset that is designed to work even if the floor has some imprefections in regard to being rock solid. The thinset will be double the price of the basic stuff, but it will be well worth it for peace of mind.

Thinsets like Tec brand Quick Flex or an easier one to find such as carried at Home Depot is Versabond. These are latex modified thinsets that you just add water to and are amazing at their abilities to make even an bad tiler look good. They will bridge small gaps and minutely flex if needed :Thumbs:
 

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I used Versabond when I laid tile directly to a cement basement floor and haven't had any problems whatsoever. It was my first time tiling and like Mike said, "These are latex modified thinsets that you just add water to and are amazing at their abilities to make even an bad tiler look good."

When adding the water, add slightly less than the instructions say and then add a bit at a time until it is the right consistancy. If you haven't used it before, you kind of have to guess at the right consistancy but after you do the first batch you'll get the idea. You don't want it too wet.
 

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Mike,

We're never going to agree on tile over vinyl, I was always taught not to do it, the one time I let a customer talk me into not removing it, it came back to bite me in the butt in the form of a demo & replacement of a bath/utility room.

Definitely use the cbu over the plywood, I've seen alot of jobs done directly over plywood it can be done if you use a good modified thinset like you guys have mentioned, but I always go with the durock myself as well.

Sunstone,
the subfloor should be 1-1/8", then the cbu. The cbu isn't structural, plywood is.
 

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Walldoc - you won't ever go wrong tearing it out - structurally that is - because of the asbestos risks it might kill you though. I have a feeling that asbestos might have led to some of the development of the thinsets specifically designed to apply tile directly to old sheet vinyl. Did you know that the Tile Council of America actually sites bonding tile directly to sheet vinyl as an acceptable practice? I know Latecrete makes some specific thinsets for the purpuse as does Mapei I believe. Bonding directly to plywood is also acceptable. Here is the TCA's page on tile over vinyl.

http://www.tileusa.com/tileovervinyl_faq.htm

I'm not saying to do it, because for somebody not very experienced it is probably a roll of the dice in regard to the long term results, but it does show that both our opinions of either ripping out vinyl or mine of leaving it and screwing down CBU are both actually acceptable and considered going above and beyond what needs to be done. How about that! :D
 

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walldoc said:
Mike,

We're never going to agree on tile over vinyl, I was always taught not to do it, the one time I let a customer talk me into not removing it, it came back to bite me in the butt in the form of a demo & replacement of a bath/utility room.
That should of been a open bid on any remodel type job. Plus legally you can jump your bid 10% on any job type.

Oh btw have you guy used the James Hardi backer board it's like 1/4" thick. Our tile guy loves it.

Edit after rereading you post I realized what happened.
 

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Yeah, I switched to the Hardi board this year - way easier on the back, the fingers, and everything. I only use it on floors, in wet areas it is still recommended to go cement board on everything. But damn it smokes like a Ukranian prostitute when I cut it with a diamond blade on a hand grinder!

My worst experience with cement board was cutting it for a floor and setting it in place, I tipped it in on one edge and let it fall into place, of course it ended up sliding down the wall, down the molding! That freaken stuff gouged the hell out of everything! Expensive lesson learned, I'm just glad I didn't learn the lesson against a vanity!
 

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Mike Finley said:
Yeah, I switched to the Hardi board this year - way easier on the back, the fingers, and everything. I only use it on floors, in wet areas it is still recommended to go cement board on everything. But damn it smokes like a Ukranian prostitute when I cut it with a diamond blade on a hand grinder!

My worst experience with cement board was cutting it for a floor and setting it in place, I tipped it in on one edge and let it fall into place, of course it ended up sliding down the wall, down the molding! That freaken stuff gouged the hell out of everything! Expensive lesson learned, I'm just glad I didn't learn the lesson against a vanity!
Mike you can score that stuff with a knife and it breaks like sheet rock. Learn that after reading the sticker.hehe I did it to till I read the sticker. If you have to cut around corners;cutting it with a grinder or skill is easier. I do all the prep work for the tiler (lowers his price). We only use the wonderboard (cement board) for showers.
 

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I'm not saying to do it, because for somebody not very experienced it is probably a roll of the dice in regard to the long term results, but it does show that both our opinions of either ripping out vinyl or mine of leaving it and screwing down CBU are both actually acceptable and considered going above and beyond what needs to be done. How about that!
Agreed Mike, we can agree to disagree. I'm familiar with the section of the TCA handbook from your link, just too many ifs in there for me to be willing to do it and put my name and reputation on the job.
 

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JustaFramer said:
Mike you can score that stuff with a knife and it breaks like sheet rock.
Righty-O! That's one of the biggest reasons I like to use it. I was referring to cutting it with a diamond blade when you are cutting a hole for a toilet or notching for a water line or something. Haven't tried cutting it with a jig saw, that would work pretty well I imagine, and reduce the smoke, but that means another tool to drag along, I always have the grinder with me on tile jobs to cut metal thresholds and cut stubborn toilet bolts and stuff like that, so keeping a diamond blade with it is my lazy way out of not lugging another tool along.
 
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