How should I prepare old tiles for new floor coverings?

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by leejosepho, Dec 26, 2006.

  1. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    We live in a 75-year-old house first built and later remodeled by people who did some lasting work, and now I am not sure what to do about some (asphalt?) tiles that will not come up. The first row of squares along the outside wall come up easily, but the rest do not. Overall, we are dealing with an area about 24 feet square (24x24) that will eventually include new floorings for a bathroom, a hallway in from the garage, a bedroom, two stairway landings and an open area in front of our breakfast bar. The sub-floor is 3/4" plywood over 1x6 tongue-and-groove decking.

    Except for along the wall, what you can see in the picture is the result of about 15 minutes of work with my sharpened ice chipper and a capped pipe driving it like a slide hammer, and that is definitely not the way to do this! At the moment, it looks like I am going to have to leave the tile where it is and put new floorings on top of it. The pieces are only very slightly curled along their edges, and I would imagine some kind of rasp could easily take care of that.

    What is the best way to deal with these tiles that will be under a variety of new floor coverings, and what kinds of coverings other than carpet will work best on top of them?

    Thank you.

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  2. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

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    Location:
    Alabama
    That is one tough job to do. It is an extreme amount of work to get the old floor surface smooth enough to put asphalt tile or roll flooring (vinyl or linoleum) over it. There was another thread or two recently covering removing old tile. Easiest way is just to cover with luan, fill the seams, and install new flooring. If it is going to be carpet just fill in any broken or missing tiles then install pad then carpet & be on your way.
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    Location:
    San Diego
  4. leave old linoleum. OK to leave it intact.

    looks like lino to me. Real linoleum. Like marmoleum today. (Not vinyl !!)

    Tile cement (thinset) makers say that linoleum is a good substrate to tile over, when it is firmly attached to the subfloor. Assuming the subfloor itself is designed for tile (joists, span, flex, etc).

    Since ceramic (or porcelain) tile has the most demanding requirements for substrate or underlayment, this means to me that you can safely leave it for any new flooring of any kind, except for tiles made of natural stone whic are even more demanding than tile. That is the conclusion I draw. To fill in the height that you have now opened where you did remove some material, I would use a Self-Leveling Cement (SLC). That makes the level of your floor the same everywhere all over again. Anything else will mean that the slight variations in height could (or probably will) telegraph through your new floor within the first year of being walked on.

    FWIW, the recipe for linoleum has been known for more than a hundred years. A hundred! It's part marble dust, part pine oil, part double-boiled linseed oil, and part cork granules. FYI, cork is waterproof, and cork alone is a tile underlayment, membrane, pad, whatever you call it under tiles.

    My telling you this, is not a recommendation to leave it or to remove it, or to take any action. The best action to take is to confirm for yourselves everything I may have made you believe about your floor, and make your own decisions. Search on "SLC", and on "telegraph+floor". Search for the pdf's that SLC makers publish to see whether that would be a good option for you.

    If you intend to lay tile, you still must be sure that the floor structure can handle it. That has nothing to do with the underlayment, whether linooleum or cork or any other membrane.

    david
  5. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    Location:
    New Hampshire
    With great care, and a fire extinguisher and pressurized water hose on hand for safety, heat (a good size torch) will often loosen that kind of tile.

    Some of the very old stuff contained asbestos. It is safe to remove by chipping or heat removal, but I couldn't recommend grinding it.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2006
  6. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Alabama
    If you insist on removing it... you can use a heat gun to warm it up...or if you're as wild and crazy as I am you use a propane torch and pray that nothing catches on fire...the fumes from burning tile is pretty rough on the lungs too. Once warm, the glue softens and you can scrape/chisel them up alot easier.
  7. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Thank you. Having already seen various floor sanders and a couple of concrete grinders, I had assumed there might be such a device. I might check with a couple of rental places, but this is winter, the windows are closed, my wife has asthma and the dust would likely do her in for sure. I did a little hand grinding to prep the concrete floor in the basement for vinyl a few months ago, and even with a fan to the outside and a sweeper alongside I still dusted the house a little differently than she prefers.

    I do not know all the materials and terms, but I believe you are correct. This 24x24 area is the original floor of the entire house before any additions were made, and I suspect this tile is even older than the same kind of stuff I first crawled around on in the ‘50s.

    I had first said the floor is plywood over 1x6s, but when I cut the hole for the new tub’s plumbing last night, I discovered the floor is actually two layers of t-g 1x6s that are even joined on the ends, and there is a layer of what appears to be 30# felt both between those two layers as well as under the tile. The floor joists are only 2x6s (12’ span), however, although I have since doubled them up from below in the basement.

    That you for that assessment, as I am planning to at least see what ceramic might cost. Several years ago, I used the 1” squares already on 12” mats to do a small bathroom (head) floor in an old houseboat we had down in the Florida Keys. I had first thought about trying to use something soft in place of regular grout, but the floor never cracked.

    Understood, and I at least thought far enough ahead that most of that area is under the business end of the tub! I will only have to repair a very small area along the hallway wall.

    Understood.

    I had already been wondering what heat might do, and I am still wondering whether I am dealing with asbestos ... and would it be okay if I tell my wife you suggested the rosebud?! See, she already thinks I like fire just a little too much ...

    Thank you very much to everybody! Tonight I am going to try a square or two with an electric heat gun ...
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2006
  8. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Ah yes, heat is the trick here! I was wrong about thinking my son-in-law had a heat gun, but my wife’s hair dryer was enough to give this a try. It turns out that I actually have two layers of tile and roofing paper or whatever else, with each of the four being glued down ... but all of it comes up with a gasket scraper and a little effort when warmed a bit. Then, the bottom layer of adhesive (on the wood) is brittle (like paint), meaning the part that does not come off at first can be easily chipped or sanded away. For now I only have to do a 5x12 area for the new bathroom, and at five minutes per tile, I should be able to get that done by midnight ... but I am not sure about just how many days from now.

    So, off to get a real heat gun and a bigger scraper ... and again: Thank you!

    PS: A special “Thank you†to whoever it was that provided this link somewhere for PhotoFiltre a few days ago: http://www.photofiltre.com/.

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  9. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Works great! But, I am having to use a wire wheel on my 4" grinder to get all of the bottom layer of whatever-it-is removed.

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    Last edited: Jan 13, 2007
  10. molo

    molo Member

    Messages:
    853
    Location:
    cold new york
    I think you should leave it in all the other areas of the home. You have gained only around 1/4" and think of the misery you went through to do it. I am amazed at your subfloor, sounds very strong, with 3/4 ply and 1" t&g boards, none the less you need to look into "deflecto" calcs for tile floor if that's what you're consdering and then hope you don't live near a mudslide area or a fault.
    I would Leave the thin tile on the floor in all other rooms

    Molo
  11. it's strong padding, good to build on top of.

    from what it looks like, it is strong, solid padding for the next layer, and you gain nothing by lightening your floor removing it.

    david
  12. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    I do understand we could go either way here, but I had to make a decision and several factors were involved. Yes, the 3/8" or so we have gained from removing two layers of linoleum and felt paper is negligable when considering the thickness of a heated ceramic floor, but no two of the three floor areas (bed, bath and dining room) to be re-done in this overall project were the same height when we began (although they had been many years ago), and we are only going to have a 7'4" ceiling height when we are done. Also, and since we only have 2x6 floor joists on 16" centers and spanning 11', we can now nail the decking down a little more to get rid of a few small creaks by nailing it to the additional (doubled) joists we have added.

    Please know I am not saying anyone who might have done otherwise is wrong! Rather, I am simply doing the kind of work I believe my grandchildren might one day appreciate ... and for now I have some great pictures of them even "helping" a bit now and then!

    For example, have you ever heard of anyone screening the stones in their driveway? We had a real mess here, and a guy who had asked me to build a worm harvester for him ended up scrapping that particular venture, so we used the harvester to get a lot of dirt out of our drive without having to replace all the rock ... and we poured our own curbing ...

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