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Can You Lay Tile Over OSB Subfloor?

Tile is a material that is easy to clean, wears wonderfully over time, and looks incredibly sleek in just about any area. When it comes to installation though, tile must have a subfloor beneath it. Can you lay tile over an OSB subfloor?

You can lay tile over an OSB subfloor, but a membrane should be installed between the subfloor and the tiles to ensure a bond between the tile and the floor is made. If tile is installed directly on top of OSB without a membrane, it will not have a strong enough bond which will cause the tile to move or even come up over time.

Tile floor installation

For those of you who uncover an old floor and find that OSB is the subfloor within your home or business, if there is no damage or huge inconsistencies within it, it is likely that you will want to install the tile you have purchased above it without having to worry about replacing the material. Even if you are looking for a new subfloor to install, OSB is inexpensive and can work well with tile. Continue reading to find out all you need to know about tile and OSB.

Can You Lay Tile Over OSB Subfloor?

OSB floor

OSB, which stands for oriented strand board, is a type of material that is similar to plywood in that it is composed of engineered wood that is compressed together in multiple layers to form one sheet. This is a great material for those who want to save a bit of money when it comes to putting down a subfloor as OSB is not incredibly expensive, but it can also do just the trick that builders, DIYers, and homeowners need when it comes to subfloor expectations.

If you plan to use an OSB subfloor beneath tile or have an OSB subfloor that already exists in the area in which you want to install tile, this will work just fine as a subfloor. However, when it comes to installation, you cannot install the tile directly to the surface of the OSB subfloor as thin-set will not bond properly to the resin that is used to hold OSB together.

Because of this, you must install a membrane between the tile and the OSB subfloor so that the thin-set has something that it can easily bond with. It is essential that the tiles have a strong bond with the material beneath it, as this is what will help to ensure that no movement occurs from beneath. With the proper bond, your tiles will remain as they were laid and will be much less apt to move over time.

Should You Put Tile Over OSB Subfloor?

Tile floor installation

For many things in the home-improvement world, there are going to be arguments for or against just about any process that you bring to the table to be discussed. This can make it very difficult to distinguish what method is right, what method is wrong, or what simply does not matter in the long run. When it comes to installing tile, you want your installation, prep, and subfloor to be exactly right, so should you put tile over an OSB subfloor?

If you are installing tile and you have an OSB subfloor, there should be no problem with this subfloor so long as it is properly prepped. When installing tile over an OSB subfloor, be sure that the subfloor is smooth, even, and level so that the tile is laid in a way that also reflects those same qualities. Also, be sure that a membrane is installed between the subfloor and the tiles so that the tiles will bond properly to the subfloor.

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on April 27, 2021.

It can be tempting for some to take the tile they have, forget installing a membrane above their OSB subfloor, and install the tile directly on top of the subfloor. Although this may save you time and money short term, it will cost you quite a bit in the long run. The thin-set will not bond to OSB properly which will cause the tiles to move and break, but this subfloor is also not strong enough to support tile in a way that will keep it from warping or cracking.

How to Install Tile Over OSB Subfloor

Tile floor installation

OSB is a great material that is incredibly versatile when it comes to the different ways you can use it in just about any space. For those of you who are wanting to install new tile and either have a pre-existing OSB subfloor or have purchased this material for the project, this is great news. Now that you know that OSB will work as the subfloor beneath tile, let’s take a look at what kinds of tools you need and prep you should complete for installation.


When it comes to the tools that you need for tile installation over an OSB subfloor, really, the list is quite short. However, before starting, always be sure that you have any possible tool that you could need to make your installation seamless and without any unnecessary interruptions. Always have your tools within either arms reach or close enough to you that you do not have to step too far away from a project that has moments of time sensitivity.

The tools you will need include a utility knife, spray bottles, a trowel, a rubber float, a level, a power drill, and some type of bucket with a lid. All of these tools may not be used, depending on your particular project, but they all have a purpose and are great to have on hand at a moment’s notice.

You will also need a few different types of materials to make sure the installation process goes just as smoothly. The different materials that you will need include enough membrane to fit the areas you are tiling, thin-set that is fortified with latex, thin-set that is fortified without latex, grout sealer, and of course, grout. If you are putting back up the baseboard, you will also need screws or nails to reinstall these pieces once the tile has set.


For any tiling project, the biggest factor that is going to affect the end result of all your efforts is a level floor. Because of this, the most essential thing you can do when prepping is to make sure that the floor is level within the area you plan to install tile. You want to check for any dips in the floor by sliding a 4-foot to 6-foot straight edge in all different directions to see if it lays flat in any part of the room. You can also use a leveler for this to be perfectly exact.

Once you have confirmed that the floor is level, be sure to check the surface of the OSB subfloor for any spots that are rough, raised, or uneven. These small areas may seem insignificant, but they can make a big difference in how well the tile lays. Sand down these spots and then follow the directions on the thin-set adhesive that is fortified with latex for applying, then set the membrane on top.

Once the entire area has been covered with thin-set as well as the membrane, you will then apply a bed of thin-set that is without the latex additive in it and set the tile in it. This is what is going to create the bond to keep your tiles in place. Once the tiles have set, you will then apply the grout to the joints using a rubber float. When the grout has set, you will then apply a grout sealer on top to prevent the grout from staining.

Special Treatment for Porcelain/Ceramic Tiles

Tile floor installation

When it comes to handling porcelain or ceramic tiles, although they are incredibly durable once installed, they are rather delicate when being transferred. Be sure to keep the tiles flat and secure when you are in the middle of transferring them and avoid putting any weight on top of them, as this can cause them to crack due to their unstable state. Once you have them to their destination, store them inside between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

To keep your porcelain or ceramic tile as clean as possible, as previously discussed, the grout that you use for your tile needs to be sealed. There are various types of seals out there, but choose one that fits the needs of the space, but that will also keep the most stains from penetrating the surface. The tiles (for most) have no need to be sealed, as this is completed when manufactured to ensure that they are stain-resistant.

When you are cleaning your ceramic or porcelain tile, always be sure to sweet and dust the surface regularly to avoid build-up within the grout. Also, clear the tile and grout with warm water or a neutral cleaning agent while using a cloth or sponge that is non-abrasive. Ordinary household cleaners can degrade the sealer that was applied to the ground, so these should be avoided in order to keep the grout stain-free.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on April 27, 2021.

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