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Reflooring kitchen: Tile before or after cabinet install?

Reflooring kitchen: Tile before or after cabinet install?


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Old 09-16-07, 08:03 PM
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Reflooring kitchen: Tile before or after cabinet install?

Howdy all. We're in the process of a complete kitchen remodel and are replacing the floor from the subfloor up. We'll be ready to put down new plywood in a couple weeks after some electrical/plumbing work gets done.

On top of the new plywood, I plan to do ceramic tiling. My question here is... should I tile the entire floor before the new cabinets are installed (so the cabinets will be on top of the new tile) or let them install the cabinets, then I lay down the new tile on the remaining exposed plywood.

My cabinet guy said to let him know how much depth I expect the tile job to be so he can add risers under the cabinets to match (so he's assuming I go with my second option as above). A contractor friend though says to just tile it all and let them install the cabinets on top of the tile.

Any thoughts or advantages to doing it one way or the other? If I tile after the cabinets are placed, I'll be tiling in where the dishwasher and range will go to keep it all level for sliding those units in, and to protect against dishwasher leakage. If I tile it all first, can I expect an added advantage of protecting all the floor under the cabinets from water damage?
 
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Old 09-17-07, 03:46 AM
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It is considerably easier on the person doing the tile, not to have to cut in around cabinets. On the other hand, tile work is expensive, so those are sq ft that you need not pay for. Do build up the floor before the cabinets go in. A tile subfloor should be at least 1 1/4' thick and very stiff. Save the tiling for last. I tile under appliances, it makes them easier to get in/out for cleaning and service.
 
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Old 09-17-07, 06:00 AM
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We're (ahem *I* am) going to tile under the cabinets. We have seen evidence of water damage coming through the subfloor in the basement below the kitchen and think we have it solved, but I would rather water from a potential leak puddle on tile than plywood or OSB. For the same reason we are doing tile in the kitchen instead of my first choice - cork.

Now if only I could find the time to install the tile!
 
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Old 09-17-07, 08:32 AM
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I tile enough to extend under the front of the cabinets for whatever depth a whole tile will give. That saves on cutting tile. The remaining space under the cabinets gets plywood to the same thickness as the finished floor. Depending on the size of your kitchen and the cost of your tile, you'll save both time and money.

Tiling under the DW is a good idea. It's the one wet space in a kitchen where you might not see a small leak.
 
  #5  
Old 09-17-07, 12:53 PM
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You can do either or, tile wall to wall and then install your cabinets, or install the cabinets and then tile up to them. If you decide to install the cabinets first, make sure you raise the cabinets enough to compensate for additional plywood, cement board and the tile. Some food for thought here would be which do you anticipate having to replace first the tile or the cabinets. Always tile under the dishwasher.

Keep in mind that the tile and grout are not waterproof. Sealers will slow down the rate that water is absorbed into the grout, but wont stop it. If there is a leak, water will find its way through to the underlayment, and thats why its important to use cement board, exterior grade plywood etc.

Installing tile directly to plywood can be done but its really a bad idea. Your much more likely to wind up with loose cracked tile and grout. Consider adding cement backer board or an isolation membrane over the plywood first. By the way, make sure your plywood subfloor is at least 5/8" t&g. If its not, you'll need to add another layer of plywood as well before cement board or membrane. If your set on tiling to plywood you need at least 2 layers of plywood totalling a thickness of 1 1/4". You cant install ceramic tile over one layer of plywood.
 
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Old 09-17-07, 03:55 PM
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I vote for CW's suggestion, gives the best of both options. The cabinets are at floor hieght, and there is no cutting on tiles after the cabinets are done.
 
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Old 09-17-07, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by HeresJohnny
You can do either or, tile wall to wall and then install your cabinets, or install the cabinets and then tile up to them. If you decide to install the cabinets first, make sure you raise the cabinets enough to compensate for additional plywood, cement board and the tile. Some food for thought here would be which do you anticipate having to replace first the tile or the cabinets. Always tile under the dishwasher.
No doubt about it, I'll be tiling under the dishwasher. The existing flooring was about 3 layers deep in FRONT of the cabinets, leading to the slow drip leak from the dishwasher being trapped under the dishwasher and slooooowly being absorbed by a layer of fiberboard.

At any rate, I like the idea of tiling just far in enough to avoid cutting tile. The contractor is going to shim up the cabinets to make them level, so I'll let them worry about that.

Originally Posted by HeresJohnny
Keep in mind that the tile and grout are not waterproof. Sealers will slow down the rate that water is absorbed into the grout, but wont stop it. If there is a leak, water will find its way through to the underlayment, and thats why its important to use cement board, exterior grade plywood etc.

Installing tile directly to plywood can be done but its really a bad idea. Your much more likely to wind up with loose cracked tile and grout. Consider adding cement backer board or an isolation membrane over the plywood first. By the way, make sure your plywood subfloor is at least 5/8" t&g. If its not, you'll need to add another layer of plywood as well before cement board or membrane. If your set on tiling to plywood you need at least 2 layers of plywood totalling a thickness of 1 1/4". You cant install ceramic tile over one layer of plywood.
Here's how the subflooring looks at the moment: original sub-sub floor on the joists consisting of diagonally-placed 6" wide x 1/2" thick (maybe a little thicker... I'll recheck tomorrow). We'll be covering that with new 3/4" plywood, for a total depth of 1 1/4" (maybe a bit more). We've set the new plywood in place, but not nailed in yet while I get other stuff done. Right now, the new floor height is perfectly even with the existing hardwood flooring in the adjacent room. I'd like to minimize raising this up further with a ceramic tile system, but I'll do what I must to make it right. How much more depth will cement board or isolation membrane be adding to this? Or... can/should I scale back the depth of the new plywood to 5/8" or so to add the cement board/isolation membrane?
 
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Old 09-18-07, 06:26 AM
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Your planking subfloor is not an ideal subfloor for ceramic tile, as the individual boards move independently as moisture conditions change. Check to see their actual thickness, as 1/2" is unusual. There usually at least 3/4". Plywood is much more stable with a lot less movement than the individual boards. If the planking is really 1/2" i'd suggest you go with the 3/4" plywood. If its actually thicker, you may be able to get away with 1/2" plywood. Let us know how thick the planking actually is. Make sure you use the right plywood. It must be an exterior plywood, bc grade or better. As one poster yesterday noted its expensive stuff. Jazman also pointed out in another post yesterday that cc plugged is also acceptable. I generally use the bc but cc plugged is ok too. The idea is that you want no voids in the plywood that could cause failure. Sheathing rated plywood is not acceptable.

If the additional height is a concern, isolation membranes are a better solution than cement board. Schluter's ditra will add a little more than 1/8" height, and Noble CIS will add even less height. 1/4" cement boad is made for floor installs like yours. Cement board will add a little more height than 1/4" though because it must be bedded in fresh thinset and then screwed to the plywood layers below.

Its often difficult to get a tile floor to transition perfectly to other types of flooring because the floor has to be rock solid. You have the right idea though in accepting that if its a little higher but its the right way to do it then so be it.
 
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Old 09-18-07, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by HeresJohnny
Your planking subfloor is not an ideal subfloor for ceramic tile, as the individual boards move independently as moisture conditions change. Check to see their actual thickness, as 1/2" is unusual. There usually at least 3/4". Plywood is much more stable with a lot less movement than the individual boards. If the planking is really 1/2" i'd suggest you go with the 3/4" plywood. If its actually thicker, you may be able to get away with 1/2" plywood. Let us know how thick the planking actually is. Make sure you use the right plywood. It must be an exterior plywood, bc grade or better. As one poster yesterday noted its expensive stuff. Jazman also pointed out in another post yesterday that cc plugged is also acceptable. I generally use the bc but cc plugged is ok too. The idea is that you want no voids in the plywood that could cause failure. Sheathing rated plywood is not acceptable.
Ok... just checked the planking subfloor and it is 3/4" thick. The plywood we currently have is also 3/4" thick. I don't see a bc/cc grade rating, but it does say APA Rated Plywood Sheathing Exposure 1.

Also... since the 3/4" plank subfloor is staying original (replacing it would be very difficult since it runs under the walls) and considering it has been peppered with nails from the previous flooring jobs, should I lean to sticking with 3/4" plywood above it for extra strength?
 
  #10  
Old 09-18-07, 10:28 AM
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You have the wrong plywood. Exposure 1 means exterior grade but the sheathing rated plywood is no good. You need to get at least the bc or cc plugged. It'll say bc exposure 1. Dont use the plywood you have, return and get the right plywood.

If you can stand the height, the 3/4" would be better (thicker is always better). You could get away with 1/2" or 5/8" if need be.

Will you be going with cement board or isolation membrane?
 
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Old 09-18-07, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by HeresJohnny
You have the wrong plywood. Exposure 1 means exterior grade but the sheathing rated plywood is no good. You need to get at least the bc or cc plugged. It'll say bc exposure 1. Dont use the plywood you have, return and get the right plywood.

If you can stand the height, the 3/4" would be better (thicker is always better). You could get away with 1/2" or 5/8" if need be.

Will you be going with cement board or isolation membrane?
I have a flooring book from Home Depot that goes into some considerable detail the cement board option, so offhand it seems I can refer to that more readily to be sure I do it right. But looking over the isolation membrane option, that seems much easier to install. But if cement board is more appropriate, as I gather from a previous reply, I'm cool with that.
 
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Old 09-19-07, 06:23 AM
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The HD book is not a great source of reference. Its full of misinformation and has lead a lot of diy'ers down the wrong path. If you decide on cement board or a membrane, go to the manufacturers website and read their installation instructions. If you arent sure of something come back here and ask.

The cement board is not "more appropriate". Either will do a good job. The membranes are easier to work with but material costs are higher.
 
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Old 09-19-07, 09:35 AM
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Not trying to hijack the thread, but we are doing the same project so I have a related question.

Membranes vs cement board - can you maybe do both? I recycled some Pergo underlayment plastic when we demoed the old office. Could I maybe re-use it over the plywood subfloor but under the cement board to help keep any leaks from permeating to the plywood?
 
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Old 09-19-07, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by HeresJohnny
The HD book is not a great source of reference. Its full of misinformation and has lead a lot of diy'ers down the wrong path. If you decide on cement board or a membrane, go to the manufacturers website and read their installation instructions. If you arent sure of something come back here and ask.

The cement board is not "more appropriate". Either will do a good job. The membranes are easier to work with but material costs are higher.
Thanks for all the advice. I'll look into the membranes in that case since it'll be easier to work with... so long as overall it's still far cheaper than paying someone else to do it.
 
 

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