It’s understandable that you want to resurface your tile flooring with laminate. After all, it’s the closest you can get to the beautiful natural look of hardwood without draining your pockets. But is it possible to lay laminate over tile, or will you need to remove the existing floor first?
You can lay laminate over tile if your existing floor is in good condition. The tile flooring must be level and without damaged tiles. You shouldn’t lay laminate over tile flooring if large parts of the existing floor have extremely uneven or damaged tiles.
Read on for more details on when you can lay laminate over tiles and how you can do it.
Can You Lay Laminate Over Tile?
It’s possible to lay laminate over ceramic tile, generally speaking. However, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind before you can lay laminate over tile.
Your Installation Method
The first thing you need to consider is the method you want to use to lay your laminate. By this, I mean whether you want to glue down the new floor or use its snap-locking/click-locking mechanism.
Gluing down laminate flooring isn’t always recommended, but there are some situations where it’s necessary.
The snap-lock mechanism is the standard installation method for laminate flooring and involves snapping together interlocking laminate planks to complete your floor. Both methods involve similar steps (except for the gluing part, of course), but the glue down method doesn’t always give the best results when laying laminate over tile.
The Condition of Your Existing Floor
Another factor that’ll determine whether you can lay laminate over tile is the condition of your existing floor. The tile floor needs to be in good shape, with the tiles well attached and level. The condition of your existing floor will determine how much you’ll need to prepare it before installing the laminate.
Are Your Tile Floors Level?
If you have tiles popping above the rest of the floor by 1/16 inch (1.6 mm), you’ll need to chip these out and fill the space left behind with thinset mortar to level everything up. Tiles sticking above the rest of the floor by less than 1/16 inch (1.6 mm) won’t have much of an effect on the new flooring, meaning you can leave them in.
It’s crucial to ensure that your existing floor is level and doesn’t have gaps or tiles with protruding corners before laying the laminate over. Otherwise, your new floor won’t be fun to walk on, never mind the potential structural issues.
Should You Lay Laminate Over Tile?
We’ve already established that it’s possible to put laminate over tile, albeit with a few conditions to be met. But just because something is possible doesn’t always mean you should do it, especially if there are alternatives.
So, should you put laminate over tile if you have other options?
To answer this question, let’s review your choices. When you want to resurface tile flooring with laminate, you can either remove the entire floor and then replace it with laminate or simply install it on top of the floor.
Even though tile is one of the high-end flooring solutions, it can be quite a hassle to tear out. If you’re resurfacing a large area, you may need to hire someone to help with this labor-intensive process. All this makes your floor resurfacing project not only time-consuming and labor-intensive but also expensive.
If you’re resurfacing yourself, keeping costs low will likely be a top priority一it’s almost always the only priority for every DIYer. As such, you’ll be better off installing laminate over tile instead of ripping off the tile flooring and then installing the laminate. This is particularly true given that choosing either option doesn’t change your floor resurfacing project’s structural and aesthetic results.
With that said, there’s an exception to the general rule of installing laminate over tile instead of ripping off the tile floor beforehand. When your existing tile flooring is in bad shape (like when large areas of the floor have extremely uneven or damaged tiles), you may be better off removing it before installing laminate.
How To Install Laminate Over Tile
Before you install laminate over your tile flooring, you’ll need to prepare the surface. There are two aspects of this preparation: gathering the necessary tools and materials and preparing the floor surface. There are other decisions to make, too, such as what type of underlay to use and how to cut the laminate boards.
Let’s tackle each aspect of preparation individually before we get to the steps.
Gather the Necessary Tools and Materials
To install laminate floor over tile, you’ll need the following tools:
- Hammer (optional, depending on whether you need to remove a few uneven/damaged tiles)
- Chisel (optional, for the same reason as a hammer)
- Leveling compound (such as thinset)
- Jigsaw or table saw/circular saw (depending on the shape of your room)
- Something to sweep the floor clean
- Laser/bubble level
- Jamb saw
Prepare the Surface
The scope of your prep will largely depend on the condition of your tile floor. If the tiles are relatively secure and level, you’ll only need to remove the base around the floor’s perimeter and then sweep it clean.
If there are some parts of the floor where the tiles dip or stick out by more than 1/16 inch (1.6 mm), then you’ll need to chip these out with a chisel and hammer and then fill that space with thinset. And if large parts of the floor are damaged or uneven, you may need to rip off the entire thing before installing laminate.
There are a couple of ways to check whether a floor is level, but the most accurate way to do that is by using a laser level or a bubble level. Choosing either tool won’t make a difference in precision, so it all comes down to what you have readily available.
Choose the Right Underlay
Using underlay when installing laminate is a no-brainer for anyone familiar with laying this type of floor. But when laying laminate over tile, you may be tempted to skip this step, thinking that the old tiles will protect the new floor from moisture.
However, you need to install underlay even when laying laminate over tile because the existing floor won’t provide adequate moisture protection. Moreover, an underlay helps with insulation and acoustics, something that your old tile may not do.
Regarding what type of underlay to use, a standard 3 mm (1/8 inch) option like the Floorlot Laminate Flooring Vapor Barrier Underlayment will do just fine. Unlike many other standard underlayments that only provide basic sound reduction without moisture protection, this specific option comes with a moisture/water vapor barrier. It’s also made from sound-absorbing foam to improve acoustics.
Some laminate floors come with pre-installed underlayment for convenience. If yours has the underlay already attached, you don’t necessarily need to purchase a separate underlayment.
Cut the Laminate
Likely, this will only apply if you’re laying laminate in a room that’s not square or rectangular. You’ll need to cut around door frames and cabinets, measuring and cutting as you lay the planks.
Use a jigsaw for complicated cuts and a table saw or a circular saw for “ripping” (AKA cutting planks lengthwise). Since laminate usually has a thickness of about ¼ to ⅓ inch (6.35 to 8.47 mm), installing it over a tile floor will leave it sitting higher than your door casings.
To get around this issue, cut off the bottom of the door casing with a jamb-saw and then fit the laminate underneath.
Install the Laminate
Laying laminate over tile involves the following steps:
- Inspect your tile floor and perform necessary prep as outlined in the “preparing the surface” section above.
- Measure the thickness of your laminate planks (or simply check the manufacturer’s specs). The aim here is to determine whether installing them over the existing tile floor will significantly reduce the height of your rooms and entryways. If that effect is significant, consider thinner laminate or removing the tile floor before installing your laminate floor.
- Level the tile floor with a leveling compound like thinset. Do this even if your existing tile floor is level. There will be troughs between the tiles and possibly deep grout lines, even on a level tile floor. Both need leveling to create a smooth surface for the laminate boards.
- Install the underlayment. If your laminate boards are already fitted with underlay, you can skip this step.
- Lay your laminate over the underlay. Be sure to stagger the floorboards for visual appeal and extra structural strength. You can do this by cutting your laminate planks at different random lengths, ensuring that plank joints in adjacent rows aren’t coinciding with each other.