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Can you/Should You Put Hardwood Floor Over Tile?

There is nothing quite like the beauty of a solid hardwood floor. Many floors also have their own beauty, including title and even carpet. If you would like to transition to a hardwood floor but you currently have tile, you may be wondering if you can put the hardwood floor over tile.

Any type of solid hardwood flooring would have to be nailed to the subfloor, so you cannot put it directly over an existing tile floor. The tile floor will have to be removed to access a proper subfloor before installing the hardwood.

Hardwood floor installation over tile

There may be options available to install a wood floor over tile, such as going with a tongue and groove floating floor. The problem is, they are engineered wood and are not the solid hardwood that will give you the beautiful and durable floor you desire.

The good news is, you don’t have to stress so much over tearing up the tile floor. It is going to be a difficult and time-consuming job but if you want a beautiful solid hardwood floor in place, it is going to be worth all of the effort. After the tile floor is removed, you will not even know that it was there in the first place.

Incidentally, if you were to try to install the hardwood floor over the tile, you would have to float the floor anyway so that the grooves in the tile and any difference in the level of the floor were completely removed.

For now, let’s take a look at the process of installing a solid hardwood floor when a tile floor is already in place.

If You Decide To Put It Either Way, How To Put Hardwood Floor Over Tile Correctly?

Installing plywood subfloor

If you are dead set against tearing up the tile floor and want to install a hardwood floor over it, there is a workaround but is not recommended. It is something you will want to consider on a number of levels to make sure that it will work well for you and your situation.

First of all, you will need a subfloor of some sort to nail down the hardwood floor. This would require attaching a subfloor over the tile. Before you do so, you will have to float the tile floor to make sure that it is perfectly level. Any imperfections, including the grout joints between the tiles will eventually show up in the subfloor and perhaps even in the finished hardwood floor.

The easiest way to float a tile floor and remove all of the height differences and imperfections is to use Ardex. They make a special type of self-leveling compound that is typically applied in a single application. It is necessary to prime the floor using another product by Ardex before putting down the self-leveling application.

You have a solid base, you can install the new subfloor in place. This is going to require that you attach the subfloor, perhaps even pre-drilling and screwing it down. It’s not the best option, but without removing the title, it is your only option for nailing down a hardwood floor.

The problem with adding a new subfloor over the tile is that you are increasing the height of the floor with each layer. The additional layers will add a little height to the floor, and the subfloor with the hardwood floor combined may add 1 1/2 inch or more overall.

Another problem is the additional weight that you are putting on the floor joists. Although they can handle a significant amount of weight, it could be a problem if it gets too heavy. This is especially true when you consider the furniture and everything else that is put on the finished hardwood floor.

What Should I Put Between Wood Floor And Tile?

Installing plywood subfloor

When hardwood floors are installed over a crawlspace or an open-air area underneath, moisture could be a problem. Aside from putting down a solid subfloor, you will need to install a vapor barrier. This will keep moisture from getting to the underside of the hardwood floor and ruining it.

The type of subfloor that is put between the tile and nail down hardwood floor depends upon the type of mechanical fasteners that are used. A minimum of a three-quarter-inch plywood or OSB subfloor is needed for hardwood floor installation.

You should also rent a moisture meter and check the moisture content of the room before installing the hardwood floor. Keep in mind that moisture may not be a problem when the installation is about to take place but if a vapor barrier is not installed, moisture could slowly reach the bottom of the floor and cause problems.

Avoid using poly film as a vapor barrier because it can actually trap moisture in the subfloor. Using an approved vapor barrier, such as asphalt felt paper will yield the best results and allow your hardwood floor to last for a very long time.

What Tools Do You Need To Remove Tile?

Floor installation tools

One important factor for removing the tile is to gather the necessary tools ahead of time. Here is a shortlist of those tools. Most of these can be rented from a local hardware store or tool rental outlet.

PPE – Having a good pair of work gloves, a dust mask and some safety glasses is imperative for this type of work.

Hammer – Most people will already have a hammer but a 2-pound hammer may be beneficial.

Prybar – Once you start getting under the tile floor, you will want a prybar or ‘Wonder Bar’ to get under the tile and pop it loose.

Chisel – You can chisel much of the tile and grout with a chisel and hammer but you may also want to consider renting an air hammer and chisel set.

Scraper – A variety of scrapers will come in handy but having a long scraper with a handle will save your back and reduce the possibility of cutting yourself.

Shovel and Buckets – Having shovels and buckets on hand will allow you to move the tile easily once you have it up from the floor.

Tarps – Having tarps in place will allow you to clean as you go. It will also provide an opportunity to drag some of the tile out to the dumpster.

Shop-Vac – Having a good shop vac will be a timesaver and will make for a much easier job than a broom and dustpan.

Dumpster – If you are removing a large tile floor, consider renting a dumpster.

How To Remove Tile Floor And Replace With Hardwood

Destroying tile floors and replacing with hardwood floor

Your best option for installing a hardwood floor when a tile floor is in place is to remove the tile floor first. This will give you access to the subfloor so you can properly nail down the hardwood floor without adding to the height or weight on the floor joists.

Start by looking for a good place to start. It may sound strange, but you have to start somewhere so look for an area where you can easily get to the edge of the tile and underneath it. This could include a transition to another room or perhaps around the edges of the room when you remove the baseboard.

Use a chisel and hammer to break some of the tiles in your starting place and remove them. Once you have them out of the way, you will see more clearly what is under the tile and can plan the job accordingly.

Remove all of the broken pieces as they are pulled up from the floor. Having too many pieces of tile laying in place will be a hazard and will also slow down the process. As you continue to move your way across the room, using a shovel and bucket will be the easiest way to move them to the tarp.

If you run into a tile that isn’t easy to remove, and you are going to run into some of those stubborn tiles on most jobs, then your crowbar or Wonder Bar will come in handy. After you get it under the tile, can use it to pry up the tile from the floor. A little leverage goes a long way.

As you continue to remove the tile, look closely at the subfloor and make sure that it isn’t damaged. Having a good subfloor is going to be imperative for a quality installation of your hardwood floor. If necessary, you can add a new subfloor over the existing subfloor but that is not the best choice because you are adding to the height and weight.

If you have any old floor adhesive that doesn’t come up easily, it can be chiseled up with a chisel and hammer or the air hammer. This is likely going to take the majority of your time on the job but don’t skimp on this part of the process. Removing the adhesive is important so you don’t have any unlevel surface under the hardwood floor once it is installed.

If there is damage to the underlayment, it should be removed and a new subfloor installed before you install the hardwood floor.

The goal is to have a solid, level surface as a subfloor so you can install the hardwood. Starting with the right subfloor will allow the hardwood floor to be installed properly and last for many years.

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