Can I DIY install laminate flooring over ceramic tile?

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  #1  
Old 07-22-15, 09:46 AM
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Can I DIY install laminate flooring over ceramic tile?

We just bought a house with ceramic tile installed in the living area/dining/kitchen/hall. I can't stand ceramic tile, so we plan to replace it. My husband doesn't want to remove the ceramic tile - the house is older, but has been flipped, so the tile is brand new and in great condition; I just don't like it. His goal is to install a floating laminate floor and underlayer right over the top of the tile. We both thought this would be pretty easy, but were concerned about installing the laminate ourselves as we've never done anything like this before (we aren't big DIY'ers). We went to Lumber Liquidators and were told they wouldn't install flooring over ceramic tile because it would void the warranty of the laminate. I went to Lowe's last week, and was told basically the same thing - that they would require the tile to be removed first.

We really don't want to remove the tile, so I'm starting to lean towards doing it ourselves. I've done some online research, but wanted to see if anyone here has any firsthand experience to share - whether you did it yourself or hired someone else to do it for you. How did it go? Would you recommend it? What's your experience level? My husband's concerned about the difficulty level, especially around doors and odd areas like in the kitchen...he wants to find someone who will install professionally.

Here are a couple photos of the area in the house we plan to install the laminate over - it's about 600 sq ft altogether, including the kitchen and the hallway off to the left, not shown.

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  #2  
Old 07-22-15, 11:39 AM
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I have always said that most laminate is best left in the store. Laminate looks good when first installed but it is not durable and scratches quite easily not to mention the problems with moisture and bigger problems if you need to replace a section. Personally I think that tile looks great and I would not remove it because you may find yourself going back to it at a later date. I don't see why laminate could not be put over it as long as it's flat and you use a good underlayment. Installing laminate is probably one of the easiest of all flooring to install.
 
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Old 07-22-15, 11:51 AM
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Thanks for your input. I agree that the tile is nice and I wish I was okay with keeping it...it's one of those personal preferences, I'm not a fan of how it looks aesthetically and how it feels under my feet, plus keeping the grout clean is a pain. Part of the reason we want to keep the tile intact, though, is for the reasons you mention about laminate being easily damaged. We could live with any visual damage caused by kids or pets, but whoever buys the house after us might not want to. If we can leave the tile, perhaps that would increase the value of the resale if the next buyer does not like the laminate. Thanks again.
 
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Old 07-22-15, 01:06 PM
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Agreeing with Ron53 regarding where laminate should be installed, or not. Make sure you are aware what laminate is. It is medium density fiberboard (MDF) with a picture of wood adhered to its surface and a coating of aluminum oxide as a wear finish. It is not refinishable should it become scratched. It does not stand up to water at all. I see you plan on putting in your kitchen as well. Not a good idea. Once an area of laminate gets wet or damaged, it all has to be unlocked to be replaced. Then you will be set with the task of finding an exact match years after your floor has been sun setted.

OK, I am not a fan of laminate. I would be remiss if I did not tell you. I have had clients go to one of the box stores and purchase 68 cent per square foot laminate and want me to install it. Certain jobs I don't need.

There are flooring options that you could install over the tile. One of them is engineered flooring in click lock. Very installer friendly and durable. It has a hard 50 year wear through warranty on the finish and is refinishable at least once should it become necessary. You could install it over your tile with a good approved underlayment. Remember it is a floating floor so it can't be captured on the edges, nor at any opening. I would leave the kitchen tile and transition down from the engineered floor to the tile, but, as you say it is a personal preference.

Regardless, good luck and if we can help with any phase of it, let us know.
 
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Old 07-22-15, 02:35 PM
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Thanks, chandler. I agree that laminate is not the best choice and was not our first - but cost wise, it is what we can afford right now. My husband wanted to go for wood-look tile, but after calculating the cost of removing the current tile along with professional installation (because we would definitely not feel confident in laying tile ourselves), it added up to double the cost of DIY laminate.

Originally we were interested in engineered hardwood - is that what you are referring to? We live in a small town that only has a Home Depot, which doesn't have a very good selection and no engineered wood. The Lumber Liquidators we went to is down in Phoenix, about two hours away, and they were the ones that told us they couldn't install anything over the top of tile. Regardless, their pricing for engineered hardwood was about 2.99 minimum, whereas the laminate I liked at Lowe's was 1.79. We have a relatively low budget of around $2500 for the whole project, about 600 sq ft total.
 
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Old 07-22-15, 03:45 PM
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If the tile is perfectly flay without "lippage" which is uneven heights between the tiles you may be able to overlay. Unfortunately, may tile floors are not perfectly flat and the imperfections in height between tile will cause an overstress situation on the locking mechanism of the laminate. This could lead to failure.

Another big issue with adding another layer is the impact it will have on the functionality of doors throughout the house. Keep in mind that entry doors usually are made of either steel or fiberglass and are not able to be cut down to account for a thicker floor. Inside hollow core doors can be cut down to provide clearance. You will also have to cut the door casing and jambs to accommodate the new laminate which will look horrid if you should remove the laminate down the road. I know a bunch of people who can not put a floor mat near the entry door because of lack of clearance.

I assume that the house is on a slab and the tile is bonded directly to the slab. There is minimum additional cost to removing the tile other than rental of a tile scraper or demo hammer. Plus a lot of sweat equity to gather and haul it away.
 
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Old 07-22-15, 04:02 PM
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The problem with laminate is that everyone has gotten in to it and the quality can vary greatly. I put in glue together Pergo in an entryway back in VA and it held up very well for 10 yrs. That was with running kids every day...no dogs or moving furniture though. Buy the cheap stuff w/o concern for the area and usage...that could be an issue.
 
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Old 07-22-15, 05:24 PM
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If I were in your situation, I would live with a second rate laminate flooring job before I tore out that ceramic tile. Even if the laminate needed to be replaced in 5-10 years, it is alot cheaper than putting a cermic floor back down.

As long as there is no lippage where the tiles meet there is no reason laminate cant be installed over tile. A few things to note though, dont go with a vinyl laminate because the grout lines will show through after a while. Also, I would not cut the jambs and casings unless you are certain you are never going to go back the the cereamic floor. If they are cut, it would be costly to replace them all after the fact. You can cut up to the jambs and leave some room for expansion, but you will have places where you wont be able to cover the gap (this is what I mean by a second rate flooring job).

Get a medium quality or better flooring and either try to do it yourself, or hire a local contractor to the the install for you. As long as you agree the warrenty is void (the contractor may make you sign that agreement), you should be bale to find someone to install it for you. Just go into it knowing what you are getting.
 
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Old 07-22-15, 08:32 PM
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Thanks, everyone. I really appreciate the input from others with more experience than me. I'm finding mixed information in my research about installing over tile...some say it's easy, some say it's a bad idea. It seems to be split pretty evenly.

We are planning to go with a medium-grade laminate, rather than the cheapest 99 cents/sq foot grade. I agree that I'd rather live with an imperfect laminate job than tear out the tile - it really seems like a waste, especially if we plan to sell in 5-10 years anyway (we tend to relocate fairly often). We've considered the door situation - thankfully the laminate samples we've brought home are thin enough that they don't impact the exterior door. A couple of the interior doors might be closer, but they are cheap hollow-core doors so I don't think shaving them down would be a huge problem.

There are a couple areas where I think I see the "lippage" you guys are talking about. Small areas, but there nonetheless. Is there anything I can do in those small spots (some kind of filler?) to make the surface as even as possible? If you take a look at the first picture in my original post, you can see the lippage I am talking about right below the date stamp, near where the kitchen begins.
 
  #10  
Old 07-23-15, 01:28 PM
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The manufacturers of laminate flooring have pretty tough flatness tolerances for warranty purposes. If you know this insalation is going to void your warrenty anyway, and the lippage you have is no more than 1/8", I would just go over it. Just try your best to avoid having a butt joint right over top of the hump. How long the flooring will last before the locks break depends entirley on the amount of traffic you have in the bad area and the quality of the flooring you buy. There is not much you can to to level it out without using a compund that would ruin the tile too.
 
  #11  
Old 07-24-15, 09:21 AM
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FWIW...Don't do it. You've said you're not likely to stay there any long length of time. The pros won't do it for a reason. At best it's a coverup that won't last. You're going cheap (I fully understand, and that's not a bad thing) but it will cost more latter on when it begins to give you problems. Plus you're reducing resale value. Live with the tile and look forward to buying another home that will let you get what you really want.
 
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Old 08-12-15, 10:28 AM
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Quick update to this if anyone cares: we decided to go with a contractor to install the laminate over the tile, mostly because my husband wasn't confident in his abilities/didn't want to take the time to DIY it (which I realize means this is a bit out of place on the DIY forum now...). Found a licensed contractor that we know personally who said he could install it over the tile and it shouldn't be a problem, as long as we got a thick enough underlayment to avoid seeing grout lines through the laminate over time. They are currently mid-way through installation. We did end up decided NOT to do the kitchen, both because of moisture concerns, the tile lippage I mentioned below right at the kitchen entrance, and to save money overall.

Thanks again for everyone's varied input on this, it did help a lot with all the different options we were considering. Overall, we looked at this as an inexpensive and potentially temporary option - which was why we didn't want to remove the tile in the first place.
 
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