Tiling Over a Subfloor
© 2001 G.G. Alonzy
I am a regular reader of the Dollar Stretcher Newsletter and really enjoy your articles. I was hoping you could help me. I want to replace the carpeting in my dining area with the vinyl self sticking tiles. We have particleboard as the floor surface beneath the carpet now. I was told this should not be a problem by one person(the fellow at the home improvement store), then someone else (the guy who was trying to talk me into having his group do the professional installation) told me that I needed to put down more plywood then install the tiles. Neither person has actually looked at the subflooring materials. How do you know when the surface is too rough for the tiles to stay in place? We are on a tight budget for this project and I can't afford to spend unnecessary funds for unneeded materials.
NC from Oxford, NC
There are two potential problems in installing self-stick tiles over a subfloor. One is the smoothness of the subfloor. Any irregularities in the subfloor surface will be transferred through to the tiles over time. This is true of vinyl tile installation over any surface. Even the pattern of a textured sheet vinyl or linoleum floor will appear through the self-stick tile! Now if you are only talking about a imperfections or nail-heads, these can be easily repaired by patching with a quality wood filler or floor leveling compound. Don't use wallboard patching materials because they may not be hard enough. Sand surface smooth, vacuum and damp-clean to remove all dust before tile installation.
The second problem is at the seams of the floor. If there is any "flexing" or movement at the seams, the tiles will eventually crack across these seams. In most situations, the easiest way to firm up the floor is to install a layer of 1/4" plywood over the subfloor (nailed or screwed and glued) in such a way that the new plywood seams do not lay over the old seams. This gives you a hard, smooth floor solving this and the aforementioned "smoothness" problem. The nail or screw heads should be "set" below the surface of the floor and the holes filled.
I think the pro was wise to suggest the additional plywood, since he is well aware of the problems associated with poor subfloor preparation. He also knows that, time wise (since his time is money), it could very well take longer to repair a bad floor than to just cover it with plywood. This may not be true in the case of a do-it-yourselfer such as yourself, since you are looking to save money, not time!
Have a small home repair question for THE NATURAL HANDYMAN? Just click here www.naturalhandyman.com/aitikia
For more home repair information, visit NH's growing list of original home repair articles and quality links www.naturalhandyman.com
If this information has been valuable to you, please consider making a small donation to support NH's free service to the home repair community! For more information, please visit our "Friends" page www.naturalhandyman.com/friends
The Natural Handyman Site Directory
- Home Repair Articles www.naturalhandyman.com/iip
- Home Repair Links Library www.naturalhandyman.com/linkslibrary
- NH's Bookshop www.naturalhandyman.com/bookshop
- Find a handyman at www.naturalhandyman.com/network
- Win unique home repair gifts and prizes at www.naturalhandyman.com/contest
Please read the important copyright and disclaimer information is located at www.naturalhandyman.com/copyright
Also in Home
- Ways to reuse an entertainment center
- The cost of using your clothes dryer
- Hay bale gardens
- Priortizing home repair projects
- Great ideas for decorating your entry on a dime
- Easy, inexpensive ways to grow from seed
- 10 ways to save money on your utility bill
- 5 simple and affordable luxuries for your home
- 5 frugal ways to expand your living space
- Top 10 DIY mistakes made by home 'handymen'
- 6 ways to save on home heating
- 7 ghastly critters that will eat your house
- Find the best mortgage rates in your area
- 3 ways to use a mortgage calculator
- Mortgage calculator: Calculate your payment and more
- Home equity calculator: HELOC vs. line of credit
- Mortgage refinance break-even calculator
- How much money can I borrow for a mortgage?
- Who offers the most home insurance discounts?