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Can You Put Ceramic Tile Over Luan? (How To)

Luan is a commercial term for a tropical hardwood plywood that measures about 1/8 to ¼ an inch thick. It is commonly used as a flooring underlayment, as well as in furniture production, lamination, and even in millwork applications. There is no denying that Luan plywood is a versatile panel, but that doesn’t mean it is suitable to install ceramic tiles on.

The answer to the question “can you put ceramic tile over luan? (how to) is a big No. Luan is not an unapproved substrate for installing tiles on. In fact, many manufacturers state that installing their products on luan plywood will void their warranty.

Assortment of ceramic tiles

While luan plywood is not recommended for ceramic tiles, or any other type of tile for that matter, it can work just fine as an underlayment for vinyl sheets. 

If you’re unsure as to whether or not you can install flooring on luan plywood, reach out to the manufacturer of the flooring you are installing. They can provide you with the recommended type of subfloor or underlayment that can be used with their flooring. They can also inform you of what would void their warranty. 

Should You Put Ceramic Tile Over Luan?

Tile Floor

There are several problems to look out for when installing ceramic tile over luan. The first is that luan is not a good choice for any tile, no matter what the material it is made from. Because of the issues that luan poses for tiles, you should seriously reconsider if you’re planning on installing ceramic tiles over luan. 

Ceramic tiles should never be installed over luan. Luan plywood is smooth and will release oils that prevent the tiles from bonding with the surface. Additionally, luan can also compress under the weight of a heavy object, such as a fridge, causing the tiles to crack and pop.

Even if the tiles don’t completely crack at first, luan is such a soft wood that tables and appliances can leave dents in the plywood. These dents will then cause the ceramic tiles to start to sink in places, which will result in irreversible damage to the tiles. 

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on October 28, 2022.

Use our tile floor calculator to find out how much it’ll cost you to put tile over Luan.

What Tools Do You Need To Put Ceramic Tile Over Luan?

Tools for tiles

Any renovations or updates you do yourself will require gathering the proper tools to get the job done. And installing ceramic tiles is no different. With that said, however, since tiles cannot be installed over luan plywood, you will have to use a few other tools that may not be necessary in tile installation scenarios. 

Since ceramic tile cannot be installed over luan, you will need to remove and replace this subflooring. This will require a pry bar, hammer, safety glass, and heavy duty work gloves. Additionally, you will need a new subfloor and screws to secure it in place.

Remember that each situation can vary from one person to the next, and you may not need all the tools listed above or you may require additional items to help you get the job done. For example, luan plywood is not to be glued down, but some do-it-yourselfs will ignore that recommendation and glue it to the floor. This will result in a more difficult removal and you could potentially damage the structure underneath the glued-down luan plywood when trying to remove it.

What Preparations Do You Need To Install Ceramic Tile Over Luan?

confused man standing

Preparation is an important part of any renovation that should never be skipped. Even a seemingly simple job of installing tiles requires preparation in order to ensure the install goes as smoothly as possible. 

Because luan is too thin and doesn’t meet the standards of the tile industry, you should never use it as a subfloor for ceramic tiles. The luan plywood will need to be removed and a new subfloor installed before installing the ceramic tiles.

The main preparation you need to do when installing ceramic tile over luan is to get rid of the luan plywood completely. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to correctly install the ceramic tiles since they will only become damaged if installed on luan plywood. Instead, do the extra work of removing the luan plywood and installing proper underlayment or subfloor that can provide the right type of structure for your tiles. 

Far too often, people forgo this preparation thinking that it is not needed and that it won’t make a difference. This may be an extra step that you don’t feel is necessary, but it helps to protect your newly installed ceramic tiles and keep them looking new and functioning properly for years to come. 

How To Install Ceramic Tile Over Luan

Handyman holding hammer

It is vital to properly install ceramic tiles in order to protect the investment you made in the new flooring. While you may want to rush into the job and “cut corners”, it can quickly cause issues in the long run. In fact, installing ceramic tiles on unsuitable flooring, such as luan, can result in the tiles being damaged. The best case scenario is you will have to replace one or more tiles. Unfortunately, it is more than likely that all the tiles will need to be removed and replaced.

Ceramic tiles cannot be installed over luan plywood. Because of this, the luan plywood will need to be removed and a ¼ inch cement board installed in its place. An isolation membrane can be used instead of the cement board. No matter which you choose, the luan plywood will have to go.

Once you have the luan plywood removed, a new underlayment can be installed and then the ceramic tiles placed on top of that. If you skip this step and simply install the tiles on top of the luan plywood, you will be left with a subpar floor that will be damaged sooner rather than later. This is a costly mistake that can be easily avoided by removing the luan plywood.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on October 28, 2022.

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