Part of my kitchen upgrade is to replace the linoleum floor with ceramic tiles. I plan on pulling the current floor then securing any creaking areas before putting in the ceramic. I spoke with a contractor who said this can be done without removing the old floor. Is it necessary to remove the linoleum? This is the original floor from when I built the home 18 years ago.
Bryan ~ Evansville, Indiana
Hi Bryan, The first thing you should do is check to make sure your floor joists can carry the weight of the ceramic floor you plan to install. I'm assuming there is a basement or crawl space underneath and your home isn't built on a slab. If the home is only 18 years old, there probably won't be any issue, but it never hurts to be sure. My home is older and I know I would have to beef up the floor joists before I could install any large expanse of ceramic tile in it.
An architect or engineer around Evansville, Indiana should be able to tell you based on the size of the floor joists, the spacing between them, and the length they span between bearing points. They should be able to come up with a pretty good estimate of the weight of the tile from the weight of one box and the square footage of the kitchen. They may need to make a job-site visit unless you have a set of the blue prints from when you built the home.
If your home has a basement or crawl space, then your subfloor should be 3/4 inch plywood. The linoleum flooring in your kitchen may have an 1/8 inch underlayment between it and the subfloor. I have seen ceramic tile installed over linoleum flooring, but the flooring was always in good shape and a 1/2 inch or 5/8 inch underlayment was always installed over the linoleum prior to installing the ceramic tile.
I always like starting fresh with a project like this so if it was my house I would probably take the flooring up first. If the linoleum flooring is on underlayment, you should be able to get it up in large pieces. Once the linoleum is up you can give your subfloor a thorough inspection and take care of the creaks you mention and then lay the underlayment for the ceramic tile.
If your kitchen floor is on a concrete slab, then you should take the linoleum up so your ceramic tile has a good adhesive foundation to start from and it will also give you an opportunity to float any low spots or grind any high spots prior to the ceramic tile going in. Concrete grinding is a very dusty job so make sure you completely cover all kitchen cabinets and doorways going into other rooms prior to starting or you'll be cleaning up concrete dust in nooks and crannies for the next 5 years. I'm speaking from experience on this issue, and don't forget to cover up your HVAC supply and return grills, too.