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Replacing laminate with ceramic tile -- keep or ditch underlayment?

Replacing laminate with ceramic tile -- keep or ditch underlayment?


Old 01-13-15, 08:44 AM
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Replacing laminate with ceramic tile -- keep or ditch underlayment?

I'm pulling up my old laminate flooring in preparation to install ceramic tile. underneath the laminate is what appears to be 1/8" thick wood board on top of the plywood subfloor. Is it possible that I can just remove the laminate and tile over the existing underlayment?

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Old 01-13-15, 08:48 AM
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Nope, get rid of the 1/8" stuff as well.

Now, what will that leave for subfloor?

Additionally, what's the size, spacing and unsupported span of the floor joists?
Old 01-13-15, 09:15 AM
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You need a proper tile backer like; cement board, HardieBacker or DuraRock. Wood expands and contracts with changing humidity which will eventually make the bond with tile fail. You need a good sturdy woof floor for strength and screw down a tile friendly backer material to which your thinset and tile will stick.
Old 01-13-15, 02:10 PM
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I don't know how to tell if it is or isn't, but if the floor is strong enough, I'd be inclined to install Schluter Ditra over the 1/8 inch thick layer he has now, and then tile over the Ditra.

Schluter-DITRA - Schluter-Systems

The Ditra will serve the same purpose as cement board in isolating any expansion or contraction of the wood so there's no stress on the tiling.

If we tell him to take out that 1/8 inch layer of wood, then he's just going to have to turn around and put in a layer of something else before he spreads thin set all over it and screws down his cement board. So, why not just leave that 1/8 inch thick layer in place, spread thin set all over it and screw his cement board down over that 1/8th inch thick layer. Or, even better, forget about the cement board and just install Schluter Ditra over what he has now.

That way, in the future if he ever wants to replace that ceramic tiling with something else, he just has to pry up that 1/8 inch thick layer and the tiling (and Ditra) will come up as well, making for a fast, clean and easy removal of the ceramic tiling. But more importantly, I'm failing to understand the benefit to be had in removing this 1/8 inch layer instead of just leaving it in place and tiling over it using Ditra instead of cement board.

Last edited by Nestor; 01-13-15 at 03:06 PM.
Old 01-13-15, 03:13 PM
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I don't know of any 1/8" wood product that belongs in the mix as far as tile is concerned. Ditra or not, underlayments less than 1/2" do not add any structural integrity to the subfloor mix and may in fact be detrimental to the long term stability of the installation. Remove the 1/8" material and respond to some questions about the thickness of the overall subfloor, size and spacing of the floor joists and the length of the unsupported span of the floor joists. The stiffness of the floor will dictate if additional layers o underlayment are needed or if Ditra can be used as is to save height. However, height should never be the determining factor in a tile installation.
Old 01-13-15, 03:38 PM
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Just for clarity I'd like to say that underlayment is not ⅛" thick. It's probably luan ply and should be 5.5 mm or a bit under ". I also do not see a laminate in pic #2, looks like a very thin sheet vinyl. That subfloor doesn't look that good, what happened to it? Can you post a pic from a little further back.

You should remove the thin underlayment for sure. Wether the subfloor is in good enough shape is yet to be determined. You should answer Mitch's post about the joists.


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