Questions on tiling [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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05-21-2001, 05:37 AM
Hello, I have a question on tiling. My mother had her tile done a while back and the guy put down a sheet of linoleum before putting down the tile. Is that normal? I'm guessing he's using it as a vapor barrier and to help level the area.
Now I am about to tile my house and I was wondering if I should do the same thing. I have tile now but it is white. DON'T GET WHITE IT SHOWS EVERYTHING :) I'm not sure what is under the existing annoying white tile yet as I haven't pulled any up.

Also, I have a little impact air hammer. It seems to me that it would be the easiest tool to use to pull up the old stuff. What do you guys think?

I have NEVER done anything with tile so please forgive me if my questions seem lame. I'm not planning on putting the tile down myself. I am good at breaking things and since I live in California where everything (Electricity, Gas, Natural Gas etc etc) is going through the roof, I need to save money where I can.

Thank you for any help you provide,

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Rob Z
05-21-2001, 06:22 AM
Hi Eric

Is the existing tile set on concrete or a mortar bed? If it is well bonded, it is possible to set tile directly on top of the old and save the demo.

There are products that are specifically designed to function as vapor barriers, but that may have been the intent of the installer at your mother's house. He may have also been trying to isolate cracks in the substrate.

Let us know what your underlayment is and whether the tiles seem firmly bonded.


John Bridge
05-21-2001, 06:33 AM
Hi Eric,

There is no such thing as a "lame" question. On second thought, maybe there is, but you haven't asked it.

I've heard of the linoleum thing for years but have never seen it done. The idea is not so much inhibiting moisture as it is isolating or preventing cracking. The problem is that vinyl linoleum is not very stable. The surface shrinks as it ages. I wouldn't do it. In fact, when people already have vinyl on the floor, we remove it before installing the ceramic.

I'm also aware that in certain parts of the country, California particularly, tar paper is used under the tiles, I assume for the same reason the vinyl is used. And although I wouldn't do that either, tar paper would actually be better than the vinyl -- it's more stable when glued down. It's used in tile showrooms to make it easier to take up sample patches of tile when they get out of date or obsolete.

You didn't state what the subfloor is made of, i.e., concrete slab, plywood, etc. For now, I'll assume it's a slab, and if there are no problems with cracking, I would simply use multi-purpose thinset right over the concrete. If there are problems with cracking, there are crack isolation membranes that can be put down.

The air hammer sounds like a winner. I use an electric version of the same thing. It drives a one-inch chipping blade.

One more thing. It might be possible to put the new tiles over the old.

Rob and I must have been typing a response at the same time, and he beat me to the launch. I swear I didn't copy him.

Bud Cline
05-21-2001, 08:25 AM
I don't think I would trust the thinset to bond to the vinyl for very long due to movement (expansion) of the materials at different rates.

Anyway.....I too use an "air chipping hammmer" the style used in autobody shops. There are wide (1-1/4") chisel points available for them at automotive supplies. The wider chisel point makes it easier to get the point flat on the subfloor and under the tile being removed.

I would warn about a couple of things though. When breaking ceramic tile, very sharp glass-like shards are produced. When using these air chisels, every stroke of the chisel expells some air. This is a very dusty process by the way. To mix this discharging air with glass shards creates a very hazardous environment. I can't stress enough the importance of wearing the proper protection devices: gloves, long sleeves, full eye protection, and face (dust) mask. Glass shards and lung tissue doesn't spell a long and happy life.

Just a couple of things to think about.

05-21-2001, 02:15 PM
The subfloor is a slab. I wish the older tile was stuck good but the people who we bought the house from put it down poorly just before listing the house. The stuff is cheap. When we moved in it had a couple chips in it and now it has many and we have not dropped stuff on it to cause the chips. Some tiles make clicking noises when you walk on them because they are loose. I don't know what is under the tile but it probably has other layers of flooring. I didn't want to get into the demo until I got a little feedback to ensure I wasn't going to screw up the place and have to pay more to fix it than have the tile removed professionally.


John Bridge
05-21-2001, 06:01 PM
Tear it out, Eric. Fire up your chipping hammer. I think you already know there is going to be one hell of lot of dust, so be prepared for that. When the dust clears, we'll help you do a first class floor.

By the way, where is Newbury Park, CA?

05-28-2001, 05:25 PM
Are you removing vinyl tile or ceramic? I use a Fein Multi tool to remove old vinyl tile. It is the same kind of thing they use to cut off plaster casts. It vibrates very rapidly and really peels tile off the floor without making a mess. I use the stiff 2" blade.

John Bridge
05-29-2001, 06:26 AM
Hi Sharon,

Welcome to the forum. I hope you post often. I lived in Phoenix for years. Went broke there once.

I think Eric is removing a combination of ceramic and vinyl. Your method sounds like a winner.

05-29-2001, 06:43 AM
If the tiles are clicking the good news is they should come up realitivly easy.
When you get ready, let us know what kind of tile and the size, and you will get all the information you need to have the job done successfully.