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02-23-2008, 08:51 PM
I'm looking for the cheapest way to do this project. This house had carpet in the basement which smelled (bad idea to have carpet in the basement - too humid in summer). I got some ceramic tile at a good price. (Fairly thin, nothing special, but 55 cents SF for 12 inch tile. - worthy of the basement).
House was built in 1936, and not very well. Basement is 7 feet underground, concrete floor has no cracks or leaks. No history of water damage - we're at the top of a hill and the soil is quite sandy.

The concrete basement floor is COLD in the winter. There is some (probably asbestos) vinyl tile glued directly to some of the concrete floor, and floor leveler has been used (by previous owners) to feather the vinyl parts down to the concrete floor before carpet went over the whole thing. Really pretty level.

I'd like to either -
(1) tile right over the floor as is (I've been reading forums and I know that folks debate whether to take up the vinyl and the consensus seems to be take it up). BUT, I don't want to take up the vinyl. The basement is not worth the effort. But I also don't want the job to fail. The vinyl is quite securely anchored to the floor, and been there for I'd guess at least 30 years. I've read that some folks think it'll be fine to just use a latex superflex thinset or something like that.
(2) find something (thin, and not too expensive) to put over the concrete and vinyl that will be a good substrate for the tiles, that's not too difficult to put down. And if it provides some kind of insulating function, fantastic! warmer floors! But this isn't required. (I'm happy to put an area rug over the top of the tile just for the winters.) Is this an application for Ditra that I see folks talking about?

The tile will eventually go from the main room into a basement bathroom. Got to do some shower repair first. The pan is cracked and water is getting under the current bathroom floor.

We don't use the basement much - I think tile is just smarter than putting carpet back in for summers. A dehumidifier is out of the question - a total waste of energy in my opinion.

Any suggestions? I've tiled one floor 10 years ago, and I think three walls and countertops, so I'm not a total novice, but by no means a pro either.

Again, I'm looking for the minimum cost options to do this job right.

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02-23-2008, 09:27 PM
i't been done, some people have problems with the grout poping out of joits from the vinly moving.

02-23-2008, 10:15 PM
Welcome, TGF. Please give us a first name to use unless you just wanna go by the initials. :)

1. Gotta make a choice. Do you not wanna remove everything from the slab and prepare it properly, or do you not want your tile installation to fail? No guarantees either way, but one way gives you a much better chance for success.

You say your slab is "really pretty level." New tile don't care diddly about level, but it's gonna want flat. And the bigger the tile, the flatter it needs to be for a good installation. The industry standard is no variation more than 1/4" in any ten feet and no more than 1/16th in any one foot. Pays to get a long straight-edge (ten feet or longer is best) and check to see what you're really dealing with. It's very difficult to tell if the floor is flat without doing that or using a laser.

2. A good substrate for your tiles is under what you have now. :) Adding a membrane of any kind, while it can certainly help to ensure a lasting job, also requires the same slab preparation as above. None is cheap, some are a bit less expensive than others. Very few offer any insulation value and Ditra, for all its benefits, is one of those. There are some foam boards that can be put down with thinset and give you some small insulation value, but they are pricy, too.

Bottom line: If you wanna tile over what you have, go for it. Your house, your dinero. Customer is not likely to sue if you have a failure. ;) If you want the installation to look good and last a long time, you'll wanna do some prep work first.

My opinion; worth price charged.

Welcome also, tilegirl72. :)

Please put a first name in a permanent signature line for us to use. If you plan to stay with us for a while and help the visitors, please stop by the Professionals' Hangout and start an introductory thread and give the other folks a little professional background. Pretty friendly group there. :)

02-23-2008, 10:37 PM
Thanks CX and tilegirl.

I meant flat, not level, but thanks for the tip. I'll get the straightedge out, and doublecheck, but I don't think I'm going to find anything that needs filling... - but I do have a container of floor leveler just in case.

What could go wrong? The occasional tile that needs resetting? I can deal with that. There will be almost no foot traffic through the area with vinyl underneath it. The traffic to the bathroom/laundry room is cement floor only.

Is the problem the thinset adhering to the vinyl? Because I can't see how there would be any 'give' in this particular vinyl that's glued right to the cement. If adhering is the problem I suppose certain brands of thinset would work better. What about priming the tile before applying thinset if adhering is the problem... or is that crazy?

I guess I think it's not a huge risk. (This house has many more issues, we're slowly crossing them off a bigger list).

I may think about redoing the broken cheap plastic shower pan with a ceramic shower if I feel up to it --- of course after doing some more reading on this site!


03-06-2008, 09:03 PM
Hi I'm back again - I've been reading a lot on this forum and others. I think you've swayed me. But it bugs me, the basement is hardly worth the effort it looks like it's going to involve. This has only become a project because the carpet stank. And it's still important to keep expense minimal.

The vinyl is 9x9 and definitely asbestos. Once I got the first tile started it came up fairly easily with a putty knife/wonder bar, at least the first two tiles did. Black adhesive underneath. Bummer.

So once the vinyl is taken up, can I tile right over the black stuff or has this turned into an even bigger project?
In other words, am I better off tiling over the black stuff than the vinyl? Of course I will do a good job scraping. Or do I need to get rid of the toxic black stuff too?
I've read that I shouldn't use chemical strippers - and I wasn't going to because there are no windows in the basement for ventilation.

We bought a bag of Mapei Ultraflex I. Is this the right stuff? We can exchange if necessary.

Also, the part of the basement floor that is concrete not covered by vinyl is painted. There are also a few (less than one inch diameter) quite shallow (less than 1/8 inch) pits in the concrete along the edges where something got chiseled up at one point. When we removed the carpet tack, it came up pretty cleanly. I could fill those in if I need to - with floor leveler?

Advice appreciated.

Thanks for your previous help, CX.

(oh, and T's been my nickname since college)