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Can You Tile Over Hardwood Or Engineered Wood Floor?

Although there are many upgrades you could do to your home, one that is going to make a big difference in any room is upgrading the flooring. At times, you may have a hardwood floor in place and you want to switch tile. Is it okay to tile over a wood floor?

You should not put tile over a wood floor without preparing it first by screwing it in place. Hardwood floor expands and contracts due to changes in humidity throughout the year. Putting tile over a wood floor will likely crack the tile over time.

Tile floor installation

The best option for installing the tile floor when a hardwood floor is already down is to remove the hardwood floor. It may not be as difficult as you think. Removing hardwood is time-consuming and requires some effort but the end result is going to be well worth it when you have a beautiful tile floor in place.

If you are dead set against removing the wood floor and the existing floor provides a smooth surface without any elevation changes, you can install a subfloor over top of the wood floor. It can work, but be aware that you are adding to the weight of the floor and adding elevation to the floor as well.

Can You Tile Over Engineered Wood Floor?

Tools and blueprint

Even though an engineered wood floor has a similar look to a hardwood floor, there is a big difference between the two products. Hardwood floor is always nailed in place but an engineered floor is typically snapped together with tongue and groove and put down either as a floating floor or glued to the subfloor.

Putting a tile floor over an engineered wood floor is possible only if you prepare the subfloor properly. The engineered wood will become the subfloor. As long as it is secured in place and does not have any flaws in it, the tile can be put over it successfully.

Since engineered floor is constructed of a thin layer of hardboard over plywood, it is a much more unified product. In many cases, an engineered wood floor will be flat, smooth, and will not have any gaps in between the individual boards. That is why it is an acceptable choice as a subfloor.

I’d like you to notice that I call it an acceptable choice and not necessarily the best choice. Anytime you put one type of floor over another, you are adding a potential problem on top of a potential problem. In the case of an engineered wood floor, any imperfection may show up in the tile or could eventually cause it to crack. If the tile itself doesn’t crack, you may see cracks in the grout line.

One problem that you may experience if you do put tile over an engineered wood floor is the engineered floor could buckle because of the moisture in the bonding adhesive. It is always a better choice to remove the engineered wood floor and install a suitable subfloor that can handle the moisture of the adhesive. Exterior grade plywood is a good option.

How to Prepare a Wood Floor for Tile

Plywood subfloor installation

If it is not feasible or desirable to remove the wood floor before installing the tile, then appropriate steps need to be taken to secure the wood floor and make it a suitable subfloor.

One option that could be considered is to install a new subfloor over top of the wood floor. This will remove many of the problems that could be associated with shrinkage and expansion of the wood floor as the humidity changes in the home. Cement board is the best option as it doesn’t expand or move because of the wood floor underneath it.

If you are going to install a new subfloor on top of the hardwood floor, you are adding to the height of the floor. This can be problematic, especially when it comes to the transition to another floor level, such as in a doorway. There are transition strips that can make up the difference but installing a subfloor and then a tile floor could easily add 1 1/2 inches of height.

Flooring is also a lot heavier than most homeowners realize. The hardwood floor that is already in place has a lot of weight to it, even if it is spread over a large area. Adding subfloor on top of the hardwood floor weight puts pressure on the joists underneath it. The same is also true if you are working with a concrete slab. When you add tile to the floor, which is extremely heavy, it could easily put too much weight on the joists.

One other factor to consider before installing tile over hardwood is to make sure everything is level. Sudden changes in the height of the floor, even if they are very small can cause the tile to crack over time. It is very difficult to go back in and remedy this type of problem after the tile has already been installed.

How To Put Tile Over Wood Floors

Cement backer board

Since you must install a subfloor between the existing hardwood floor and the new tile floor, you are not actually installing tile over wood but rather, you are installing tile over a subfloor.

In the case of a subfloor that is installed over a hardwood floor, it is a concrete board, sometimes referred to as concrete backer board. In either case, it is a layer of cement that is sandwiched between a layer of fiberglass on the bottom and a layer of fiberglass on the top.

Cement board is typically installed in showers and other locations where the possibility for a significant amount of moisture exists. In the case of using it as a subfloor over a hardwood floor, it works because of its strength and it can be screwed down to keep the hardwood floor in place. This keeps the floor from shifting under the tile and causing it to crack.

After the subfloor has been installed, go over it carefully to make sure you have no screw heads sticking up and no uneven surfaces, especially where two pieces of board join together. Any imperfection in the level of the subfloor is likely to cause the tile to crack over time.

You would install the tile in the same way that you would over any other subfloor once the cement board is in place.

Strike a line in the center of the room and lay the tile on one side of the room first before doing the other side of the room. Carefully measure or put the tiles down dry to ensure that you don’t have a sliver left at the edge of the room. If so, adjust your centerline appropriately.

Copyright protected content owner: ReadyToDIY.com and was initially posted on March 22, 2021.

Begin working the floor with thin-set mortar using a tile trowel. The lines in the mortar left by the trowel are important for the proper adhesion of the floor. Be careful you don’t mix too much mortar at one time or it could start to dry before you are able to use it all.

Continue to work your way from the centerline to the edge of the room in sections. Don’t do too much at one time or the thin-set may dry on the floor before the tile goes down. It may work at first but eventually, it could fail because of the weak bond.

Use a straight edge, such as a 2 x 4 and a rubber mallet to gently tap on the tiles and keep them level. You should also ensure that the grout lines are straight from the very start. Any issues that occur in the level or lines will likely get worse as you continue to work across the room.

An expansion gap should be left between the tiles. Spacers can be purchased to keep the gaps uniform. Don’t try to guess on the joint, use the spacers. Any errors are likely to magnify as you continue to work across the room.

After you lay all of the full tiles, measure and cut the remaining tiles with a tile cutter or wet saw.

Copyright article owner is ReadyToDiy.com for this article. This post was first published on March 22, 2021.

Give the floor some time to set and then it is time to grout. Work your way carefully across the floor, filling the joints with grout and then wiping with a wet sponge. You will typically have to wipe the floor two times to get the majority of the grout up.

Finally, go back over the floor with a clean sponge and bucket of water. The tile will look cloudy because of the leftover grout but if you did the job right when you grouted the floor, it should wipe away easily. You can then install the thresholds and baseboard.

How To Put Tile Over Engineered Wood Floors

Engineered hardwood floor

Although it would be best to remove the engineered wood floor or install a separate subfloor over top of it, it is possible to put the tile directly over the engineered wood.

As long as the engineered wood floor is sound, solid, smooth, and level, you can use it as a subfloor for a tile floor. If any of the engineered wood has come loose, screw it to the existing subfloor before installing the tile.

You can treat the engineered wood floor as any standard subfloor. The only problem you may run into is if the thin-set is too wet. Since the engineered wood floor is made of only a thin piece of hardwood over plywood, it could easily buckle and swell because of the moisture in the thin-set.

Keep the thin-set on the dry side without allowing it to dry too quickly and work your way quickly across the room. A tile floor installed over a quality engineered wood floor should last for many years.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on March 22, 2021.

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