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pros and cons of laying vinyl over tile

Vinyl flooring is a popular choice because it is durable, easy to install, and stylish. Many homeowners are choosing to replace their tile floors with vinyl, but it can be a hassle to remove the tile flooring before installing your new vinyl in its place. Because of this, people ask, “can you put vinyl flooring over tile?”

You can install vinyl plank flooring directly over ceramic tile as long as there are no wide seams or cracks between the tiles. If there are large or deep grout lines or missing tiles, you will need to level the floor by replacing or repairing tiles before installing vinyl flooring.

In this article, you will learn about the benefits and downsides of installing vinyl flooring over the tile and when it is possible to do so. You will also learn how to install the vinyl flooring on top of the tile correctly and what type of flooring to use.

Can You Put Vinyl Flooring Over Tile?

Vinyl flooring can be installed directly on top of ceramic tile and porcelain tile, but there are some things that you need to keep in mind that will determine if you should do so. While vinyl flooring can generally be installed over tile, it cannot be installed properly over all tile floors. The tile flooring will have to possess the necessary properties of a substrate for the vinyl flooring to work directly over it.

The first thing to keep in mind is the condition of the existing tile. Vinyl flooring can only be installed over tile with thin grout lines that are not too deep, and you do not want to install it over broken or missing tiles either. Since vinyl flooring is thin and flexible, any imperfections can compromise the durability of the flooring and cause depressions in the floor. Because of this, the damaged areas will need to be repaired before installation.

Another factor to consider is moisture because you do not want to trap it beneath the tile and the vinyl. Doing so can cause mold and mildew to grow and fester there with no means of escape.

Finally, height is something to consider. While most vinyl flooring is thin, it will add to the height on top of the tile. In some cases, this will become a problem and could get in the way of doorways or cause a step up or down into the next room. Just make sure that the difference won’t be bothersome before installing the vinyl.

What Vinyl Flooring Can Be Installed Over Tile?

Choosing the type of vinyl flooring to install over tile is critical for the success or failure of your flooring project. While technically any type of vinyl flooring can be installed over tile, it is good to keep some things in mind about each type.

Vinyl flooring planks are the best option because they are less likely to depress or bow due to imperfections on the tile. You want to keep the thickness in mind because the planks will add some height to your existing floor. Vinyl flooring planks are also great because they can stick well, and the glue can help it attach even with grout lines as long as the crevices aren’t too large.

Vinyl sheet flooring can also work, but the tile will have to be in better shape than it would have to be with planks. Sheet flooring is thin and more likely to show imperfections on the subfloor beneath it. Having a tile floor in good condition that is completely level is necessary before embarking on an installation using vinyl sheet flooring.

Finally, peel and stick vinyl flooring is another option, but I do not recommend it. While it can technically be fine for covering up tile floors, there are some significant downsides compared to the other types. It is usually thin compared to vinyl plank flooring, which means you need to take in the same considerations as sheet flooring. Also, since it has its adhesive, it is harder to control whether it sticks to the grout lines. If the grout lines are deep at all, then the vinyl flooring may not be properly secured to the subfloor.

Pros and Cons of Laying Vinyl Over Tile

Before deciding whether you should install vinyl over tile, it is a good idea to weigh the pros and cons. Vinyl flooring on top of tile offers several benefits, but there are a couple of downsides and disadvantages that you should consider before deciding.

Pros

Tiles can be noisy and echo sounds throughout your home. Vinyl flooring can lower this noise level, especially planks with a foam-backed cushion to absorb sound waves. It is also easy to clean because it does not have the grout lines and crevices that ceramic or porcelain tile have. In general, vinyl flooring is still quite durable and strong and there are a wide variety of attractive styles, colors, and designs to peruse and choose from.

People also like vinyl flooring because it feels better on bare feet and is less cold like tile. Vinyl will give slightly when walking, which can put less tension and strain on your muscles. You may even save on your heating bill because it will feel colder in a home full of tile than it would be using vinyl throughout.

Typically, vinyl flooring is about 40 percent cheaper than tile and many other types of flooring. It is easier to install for a DIY and cheaper for a homeowner looking to hire a professional. Utilizing the existing tile as a substrate also means you will not have to pay someone to remove it first, which can save labor costs.

Finally, removing tiles is exhausting and can be incredibly frustrating. Not only that, but you could potentially damage the subfloor, baseboards, and other areas that you want to keep in good condition. Most homeowners do not want to sit on their floor all day taking off the tile and you don’t have to if you choose to lay the vinyl flooring directly over the existing ceramic or porcelain.

Cons

The main downside is that imperfections and damage on the current tile flooring can cause problems with the vinyl flooring if they are not properly repaired before installation. The surface has to be level and you do not want any large crevices or gaps.

You also do not want substantial dips or inclines. If you do not ensure that the tile is in good condition, it can cause depressions in the vinyl, or the gaps and seams could grow over time and expose the vinyl flooring to damage or the intrusion of moisture.

Another thing to remember is that adding the vinyl flooring on top of the tile means that the floor’s height will be higher by the thickness of the flooring you use. For vinyl flooring planks especially, this could be a problem. It can get in the way of doors or make the entryway to the next room uneven.

Finally, once you install the vinyl flooring, it will be difficult to remove or repair. Vinyl flooring that becomes damaged is harder to replace on top of the tile. Plus, vinyl flooring can emit toxic fumes and contain harmful substances that you may not want in your home.

How To Install Vinyl Flooring Over Tile

So, you have decided you want to install vinyl flooring over your tile, but you don’t know how to do so. This is a simple step-by-step guide to preparing the area and installing vinyl plank flooring, but you can also adjust the instructions for other types of vinyl flooring or situations.

What you will need:

  • Glue-down vinyl planks (other types of vinyl flooring can also work)
  • Cementitious leveling compound
  • Trowel
  • Vinyl flooring adhesive
  • Utility knife
  • Rafter square
  • Flooring spacers (¼ or ⅜ inch)
  • Tapping block
  • Rubber mallet
  • Level

1. Clean Existing Floor

The first thing you have to do is clean the existing floor thoroughly. Any debris and dirt can impede adhesion and can cause issues with the vinyl flooring as well. Remove all dirt and debris and ensure no moisture can get between the tile and vinyl flooring.

This is also a good time to lay the vinyl flooring planks on top of the tile near doors, edges, and entryways to make sure that the thickness will not get in the way of any functions around the home.

2. Prepare the Tiles

The next step involves preparing the tiles, repairing any broken tiles and leveling the floor. For any significant damage to the tile itself, it is best to completely replace the tiles that require repair. Otherwise, you just want to level out gaps, crevices, grout lines, and shifting tiles.

You can use a level to see where there are problematic areas that may need a replaced tile because of shifting foundation or other causes. For slight uneven areas and depression and bows caused by grout lines, you should use a self-leveling compound. Work a little bit at a time moving over the floor to ensure you do not apply too much or over too wide an area. Before pouring the compound on, dampen the area with a sponge to make sure that the compound does not dry too quickly.

Use a trowel to make sure that the compound completely fills the hole before the compound spreads and levels out. Smooth the compound off the top of small crevices or gradually thin it to level larger areas around the tile. If you are doing a little at a time, it should not be hard to control the surface area and then you can use the level and trowel to smooth the surface and level the imperfections in the existing tile flooring.

3. Install Vinyl Planks

After the compound is completely dried (24 to 48 hours) and there is no moisture or debris on the tile, you can begin to install the vinyl planks. Work one row at a time and use spacers to create a gap between the vinyl and the wall or other objects. The gap will ensure that the flexible vinyl flooring has room to expand with temperature changes.

If you are using glue-down vinyl flooring planks, you will have to purchase an adhesive that works with the flooring product you chose. Spread the vinyl flooring adhesive in a thin, even layer on the underside of the planks. If any gets on the surface of the planks or if you accidentally use too much, it should wipe away easily with a damp cloth.

If you are using click-lock vinyl planks, as you are laying the first row, keep the vinyl flooring planks locked together with the tongue and groove before laying the plank flat against the floor. You may also need to use a tapping block and rubber mallet to secure each of the pieces and to lock the rows together. Just make sure not to hit it gently until it locks.

You will also have to cut some pieces as needed. It should be easy to do so with a utility knife, but you may have to snap the plank after cutting it for the pieces to come fully apart. You may also choose to use a jigsaw for intricate shapes or precise lengths.

Keep making rows throughout the room while keeping the spaces around the perimeter. Then you can install or reinstall baseboards or a quartet-round to hide the gaps around the edges of the flooring.

What Type of Flooring Can You Put Over Ceramic Tile?

In addition to vinyl flooring, there are other options if you want to install the flooring directly over ceramic tile. One of those options is a new layer of ceramic tile. As long as the old floor is in good condition and can allow the new mortar to stick properly, it should not be a problem. However, that could mean that you have to sand down the glaze on the existing tile floors.

Solid wood flooring requires a different subfloor and will not work on top of the tile but engineered wood flooring can be installed directly on top of the tiling. The same is true for laminate flooring, especially considering it doesn’t usually require an adhesive and incorporates a padded underlayment that can smooth out imperfections on the ceramic.

Finally, carpet can be installed over tile, but you do want to make sure that the thickness will not get in the way of doorways or other features of the room. You also need to drill the tack strip holes because the ceramic tiles will crack and shatter when you nail into them without pre-drilling.

How to Level a Tile Floor for Vinyl Planks?

Half-inch tiles common on bathroom floors will have tiny grout lines that are not deep and usually require no preparation before click-lock vinyl can be installed on top. For glue-down vinyl, however, you want to fill the grout lines to make the surface perfectly even for better adhesion.

Larger tiles or larger grout lines will always require leveling before installing vinyl flooring over them. To do this, you can chip out the loose grout and vacuum away all the debris. Then, use a cementitious floor-leveling compound. Mix it with water until it is the right consistency (pourable, but not runny).

Once you pour the compound, use a trowel to spread it and make sure that it completely fills the crevices and cracks. Gradually level the compounds out to even up the slope of the tiles or remove it if none is necessary other than for filling the gaps made by grout. Use a 2×4 to screed the floor and completely level the tile and compound. Before installation, you need to let the compound dry, which can take 24 to 48 hours.

Another option is to cover the tiles with plywood. This is a good option if you think you may want to uncover the tiles at a future time. The plywood needs to be at least ¼ inch and make sure that you glue it down evenly.

Can You Put Vinyl Flooring Over Linoleum, Laminate, or Carpet?

Vinyl flooring can be installed on top of many different types of flooring, including concrete, laminate, vinyl, solid wood, engineered wood, and ceramic tile.

For installing vinyl over wood, you need to repair or fix any gaps caused by swelling or shifting. Laminate and linoleum can act as a substrate for vinyl flooring as well, but it can swell with moisture, so you will want to double-check any areas prone to humidity. Also, I do not recommend installing vinyl flooring over floating laminate and it would be better to remove the laminate before installing vinyl.

It may be possible to install floating vinyl flooring over carpet in some situations, but it is generally not recommended. It will only work with sturdy and stable, low pile carpet that must be even and in great condition. The vinyl planks will rest on top to form the new flooring. You should not install vinyl flooring on top for any carpet that has fibers greater than ¼ inch. The same goes for any carpet that is too soft to maintain stability.

Conclusion

It is certainly possible to install vinyl flooring over tile, but you just need to make sure that the tile is even and in good condition first. It is also best to use vinyl flooring planks and to ensure stability, choosing a glue-down option may be best. If the tile is uneven, just make sure you use a leveling compound first, then you can have your new floor installed in no time without the hassle of removing the tiling.