Tiling upstairs in an older house?

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Old 04-30-15, 10:03 AM
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Question Tiling upstairs in an older house?

Hello,

My house was built in 1923. My bedroom, where I want to tile, is carpet over what feels like warped wood - the floor creaks and various sections are noticeably higher or lower than the rest. The room is ~50sqft.

I want to pull up the carpet, possibly the wood beneath too, and lay down ceramic tile. I think pulling up the wood and treating the floor beneath would be easiest from a leveling standpoint, but maybe leaving the wood alone is safest? What can I expect to find under the wood in this old house?

My primary concern is actually my roommate's: she's convinced this project will somehow ruin the entire upstairs floor, like "going through the ceiling" or otherwise destabilizing/damaging so much that we'd have to get professionals to fix it. I've tiled before, albeit not on an upstairs floor in an older house, and have experience leveling and doing basic carpentry. Does my roommate have a valid concern? What's the worst I could possibly do in attempting this job?

Any advice and/or tips would be helpful. Thank you!

Johann
 
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Old 04-30-15, 01:39 PM
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Welcome to the forums! It will largely depend on the support of the joists below, their size, spacing and the unsupported span. Your lumber may be full sized boards, which may be to your benefit. Remove the carpeting and the subflooring. Take it down to the joists. That way you can tell us more of the structure and we can likewise can tell you what you need to do, if anything, to make it supportive of the tile. Tell roomie, installing the tile will not place an inordinate amount of weight on the floor, provided it is of a minimum spec, which we will let you know.

Now, to aesthetics. Are you sure you want to tile an entire bedroom? It will be cold and hard, and unforgiving. If you have already studied this, then full steam ahead.

Let us know what we need, and we'll get you going in the right direction.
 
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Old 04-30-15, 02:45 PM
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Yes, I want tile in my room. I have severe asthma and we have six cats. I desperately need something I can easily keep clean and that they can't as easily ruin. Occasional regrouting from cat issues is easy compared to constant, aggressive cleaning I have to do now (and some patches are absolutely ruined, down to the padding beneath). I can always keep hypoallergenic smaller rugs around.

My roomie thinks the work itself - ripping up the floor, adhering whatever subflooring I need, etc. - will somehow puncture the ceiling below and/or destabilize the whole upstairs. She said weight of the tile hadn't even crossed her mind. I'm having trouble logically following her thoughts on this, seeing as how the work will be confined to one room and I'm not planning on hacking at the joists or anything else idiotic. I'm trying to understand what she thinks could go wrong and if it's valid. Of course I'd make sure the structure is stable before doing anything.

I mean, she's freaking out about me even taking up a portion of the floor to see what's under it. Normally I'd dismiss such concerns as inexperience and paranoia, but since it's her house too and at very least this work will cause aural annoyance for a few days, I want to make absolute certain it truly is inexperience and paranoia.

So perhaps I should simplify my question to: 1) can any aspect of this planned job do significant damage beyond my bedroom 2) will I do damage that requires immediate action by taking up my floor as you direct so I can start this job in the first place?
 
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Old 04-30-15, 03:49 PM
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If, once you have removed the subflooring you step through the ceiling......not a good day. Please don't think this is a "few days" job. I do it for a living and with 3 helpers who know their stuff, maybe 4 days to a week. Tile thinset has to dry. Grout has to dry. You need to seal the tile/grout. If you can locate your joist, it would be prudent for you to cut out a section of flooring from dead center of one joist to dead center of the next joist and about 2' long. Take pictures of what you find and post them here. We can do an up build of what you will need to do from that. If you decide not to do it, then replacing the wood won't have caused any harm.
 
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Old 04-30-15, 04:57 PM
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I have a good feeling that the subfloor structure will be insufficient for tile. To test, drill a small hole in the floor in the corner of the closet. Take two measurements at that hole:

1- stick a nail into the hole "head first" and pull back to capture the under side of the flooring. Pinch at the subfloor and pull the nail out. Measure how much nail was buried in the subfloor. That tells us if you have anything under your current hardwood.

2- take a coat hanger, bend it straight and stick it in the hole all the way down till it hits ceiling below. Pinch at the floor level, remove and measure how much was in the floor. Subtract the first measurement and that is how thick your floor joists are.

3- then go downstairs and look at the layout directly beneath the room to be tiled. How far is it between walls going east/west and north/south. The measurement we need most is the unsupported open span that runs perpendicular to the way the floor planks are put down in your bedroom to be tiled.

This information will help us determine if your room can be tiled, or if we look toward another more hypoallergenic flooring.
 
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