If you have a ceramic tile floor but want laminate, then you may want to forego removing the old flooring, which is one of the hardest steps in the process. However, before moving forward with the project, you need to know, can you put laminate flooring over ceramic tile?
You can install laminate over ceramic tile as long as the current floor is in good condition. You should not do so if the tile flooring is damaged or uneven because it can lead to problems during and after installation. Be sure to consider the floor height, grout joints, and cleanliness.
In this article, you will not only learn whether you can put laminate over ceramic and the considerations for doing so, but you will also learn how to complete the project. In addition, you will discover the pros and cons of installing laminate over tile, when you should avoid doing so, and potential problems.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- Can You Put Laminate Flooring Over Ceramic Tile?
- When Should You Remove Tile Before Installing Laminate Flooring?
- Do You Need Underlayment for Laminate Flooring Over Tile?
- How to Install Laminate Over Ceramic Tile
- Pros and Cons of Laying Laminate Over Tile
- Laminate Over Tile Problems
- Can You Install Laminate Over Uneven Tile?
- Best Laminate for Ceramic Tile Floors
Can You Put Laminate Flooring Over Ceramic Tile?
You can lay laminate flooring over ceramic tile, but there are some considerations to keep in mind before doing so. The first and most important factor to keep in mind is the condition of the tile flooring. It will cause more problems than it is worth if your tile is in bad shape.
The tile should not have cracks, deep crevices, deteriorated grout, or loose areas. If there are minor issues, they may be easier to repair than removing the entire floor, but you should avoid laying laminate over loose or broken tiles either way.
One of the features of the floor condition that you need to account for is the levelness of the tiles. If you have tiles popping up or lifting too much, then the locking mechanisms and structural components will not be sound for any floating floor type, including laminate. Typically, anything unlevel by 1/16 inch needs to be fixed before installing laminate on top.
Floor height is another concern that some homeowners forget to consider. When you lay the laminate on top of the tile, the height of the floor will increase, which can block doors, get in the way of appliances, or lessen headroom in some areas. It may seem like an insignificant amount of space, but it can be more critical than you may realize.
When Should You Remove Tile Before Installing Laminate Flooring?
You should remove tile flooring before installing laminate whenever you cannot repair the tile to sufficiently create a proper, level base on which the laminate may rest. Things like substantial depressions in the tile, frequently occurring damage in grout or tile, or loose tiles in various portions of the floor are signs that it may be better to remove the tile instead of installing laminate over it.
While many of the concerns are easily fixed, like chipped tiles, small irregularities, or insufficient grout, there are some issues that are more difficult and are more work than they’re worth, making it simpler or better to remove the tile completely before moving forward with the project.
Major depressions and cracking in more than a few places may indicate an issue with the subflooring or even shifting in the foundation. Even if it is not a critical issue like this, significant damage like this should be taken as a sign that you need to remove it because something largely wrong with the existing tile flooring can impact the stability of any floor that you install over it.
Another thing to consider is the grout. Deterioration in grout is okay, but if there is damage that suggests shifting portions of the floor that squeezed, stretched, or folding the grout lines, that is something that shows that the tile needs to be taken off, whether it is caused by improper installation originally or something else.
Finally, if there are multiple areas where the tile is loose, then you should remove it. That’s because more tiles may loosen over time and then the tiles will no longer be a sufficient floor for the laminate to work on. They can also make the laminate floor less comfortable to walk on long after the installation is complete.
Do You Need Underlayment for Laminate Flooring Over Tile?
You do not need an underlayment when installing laminate over tile, especially if there is already underlayment beneath the tile floors. Using underlayment can provide benefits like comfort, insulation, acoustics, and moisture protection.
Moisture is the main concern, but tile in good condition works as an adequate vapor barrier for most areas. However, some underlayment is designed specifically to prevent moisture from getting into your new laminate flooring. It is an easy step to ensure protection from warping, mold, mildew, and other problematic issues.
Tile floors can also get cold and underlayment may add some insulation and keep your new flooring warmer without using more energy from the heater. In some cases, it will even improve acoustics and reduce echo in the room. For these reasons, we recommend using underlayment if there is not one already installed underneath the tile.
How to Install Laminate Over Ceramic Tile
Installing laminate flooring over ceramic tile is not much different than installing laminate over concrete or any other hard, durable subfloor. However, there are some concerns to keep in mind, so we wanted you to have step-by-step instructions to follow.
What you need:
- Long Level
- Self-Leveling Compound
- Tape Measure
- Laminate Flooring
- Underlayment Seam Tape
- Flooring Spacers
- Rubber Mallet
- Tapping Block
Laminate needs to become acclimated to the room’s environment, so it grows accustomed to the humidity and temperature. Because of this, make sure to put it in the room for 2 days before installation.
The tile will then need to be inspected and cleaned. Identify any areas where cracks, uneven tiles, loose tiles, chips, or any other imperfections need to be repaired before laying the laminate. If there is significant damage, you may be better off removing the tile completely.
Use a broom to sweep away debris and then lightly mop the flooring tiles. This will ensure that the seam tape will stick and help you avoid any dirt and grime that can impact the flooring on top. You should also use this step to make sure that there will be no height issues after adding the thickness of the laminate on top of the tile.
If the tile is in pristine condition, then this step may not be necessary. Otherwise, this step is to level uneven floors and repair minor damage. To do this, you can use a leveling compound that will fill in troughs and even up inclines to create a smooth and uniform surface for your laminate.
You can use a long-level to identify any areas that are not even and then keep any grout lines that are deep in mind as well. Use the self-leveling compound according to the directions and pour a moderate amount directly on the floor. You can use a trowel to spread it around and allow it to gradually seep into low areas.
These products will level on their own (hence the name), but you do have to spread it to prevent pooling and allow it to fill in all the areas that were not level to begin with. After the leveling compound is dry, you can lightly sand the surface and sweep or vacuum away any remaining dust.
Now you will install the underlayment. While this is not an essential step if you already have underlayment underneath the existing tile flooring, we recommend it for most projects. Vapor barrier underlayment designed for laminate is easy to install and affordable to buy.
Lay the adhesive strip down first and use seam tape if needed to secure it. Then unroll it to lay it completely until you get to the end of the strip or need to cut it. When you reach a wall, it is a good idea to leave 1 to 2 inches to ensure full protection (excess can be cut off later at the end). Then, when you lay the next strip, you want to overlap the next part and use seam tape to adhere them together.
Now you can begin to lay the laminate floor planks, staggering them for appearance and structural durability. Start in the corner farthest away from the entrance and leave ¼ inch expansion gap around the perimeter of the room. You can use spacers to keep the gap during installation.
Start by putting the tongue side of the first plank toward the wall, align the next locking component, and press it down to lock it into place. Continue doing so until you get to the end of the row. Cut the last plank with a jigsaw to fit while leaving the expansion gap.
Continue to the next rows until you finish the entire floor. Use a mallet and tapping block to secure and tighten the locking components. The last row may have to be cut lengthwise to fit perfectly. Once you finish, remove the spacers and reinstall baseboards.
Pros and Cons of Laying Laminate Over Tile
Before deciding whether to move forward with the project, it is good to consider the benefits and downsides of laying laminate over existing tile flooring.
- Laminate is easy to install, even without any experience
- Save time on removing tile, which is not always easy
- You will be able to achieve an appearance with laminate flooring that is impossible with tile
- Laminate is more resilient against certain damages
- Reduces echos caused by hard surfaces
- Can’t be installed over damaged tile
- Will raise the floor height, which isn’t always possible
- Even small variances in the tile can cause squeaking when walking on laminate
- Will not be as resistant to damage caused by liquids
Laminate Over Tile Problems
While you can certainly install laminate flooring over your current tile, there are some issues that you may want to keep in mind other than the installation process itself.
First, even small variances in the tile may cause squeaking when you walk on the laminate in the future. This may not be a problem, but is something to keep in mind even if it is not damaging to the flooring at all.
Another thing to consider is the fact that tile is often used in areas that are prone to moisture, like bathrooms and kitchens. Laminate, on the other hand, can attract condensation and are more likely to become damaged by moisture. Because of this, you will need to install underlayment, especially if there is no existing one underneath the tile floors.
Another somewhat related problem is the fact that tiles are often made to be safe when wet. Many laminate flooring products become incredibly slippery, which may not be good for certain areas. Keep this in mind when shopping for a certain laminate product, particularly if you plan on using it in a bathroom.
When laminate is laid over tile, it creates a harder surface than you may prefer. An underlayment can help, but the floor may not be as comfortable as you would like because you will be placing the pressure of the laminate floorboards on top of tiles and the concrete or other hard subfloor. These factors can also create a louder surface when walking that can also echo other sounds.
Finally, laying laminate over tile is often forbidden by the manufacturer, which means that it can void your warranty. While this may not matter, if you do not install it correctly or if the tile is not even enough and causes problems with durability and structural effectiveness, you may be out a lot of money with no backup plan.
Can You Install Laminate Over Uneven Tile?
No, you should never install laminate over uneven tile floors, and doing so can compromise the integrity of the flooring. Generally, you should avoid laying laminate over tile if there is any difference in tile height greater than 1/16 inch. Any variances of 1/16 inch or greater need to be repaired before laying the laminate planks.
There are a few things you can do if you still plan on putting the laminate flooring over the ceramic tile when you have uneven portions. You can try chipping any parts of the tile away that are sticking up and then filling the area with thin-set mortar. You can also remove a few erroneous tiles and replace them with new tiles as long as the new tiles are the same thickness.
As a last resort, you can use a tile grinder. Since ceramic is very hard, it does take a specialized grinder that uses a specific type of grinding wheel. This may not be worth it for a small room because it takes a lot of effort, but larger rooms may still be preferred over removing the old tiles.
Best Laminate for Ceramic Tile Floors
For ceramic tile floors, you want to choose the best type and thickness of laminate to ensure a long-lasting floor that suits your needs. You have two primary options for type: plastic and engineered.
We recommend plastic laminate flooring over tile for two main reasons. The first reason is that it is more protective against moisture. This may not always be a concern, but it is certainly something to consider. However, if the tile floor is in a bathroom or kitchen or any other area susceptible to moisture, this factor becomes more crucial for the floor.
The other reason is that plastic laminate is considered better over uneven floors. You will still want to avoid installing it over uneven tile, but minor imperfections are less likely to significantly impact plastic laminate because it uses layers of high-density fiberboard that add flexibility.
When choosing the best laminate product to use for ceramic tile floors, you also need to consider the thickness. Laminate flooring can vary between 7mm and 12mm in thickness and you need one that offers a balance between being thick enough and not adding too much height to your floor.
Thicker laminate is better for covering uneven areas because it will be more effective at resisting bending. It will also have a more solid feel and be better at absorbing noise. You will also have to account for the underlayment unless the manufacturer already did so. You want a thick laminate until it becomes too thick for comfortable use in the room.
Installing laminate over ceramic tile is doable, but there are some concerns and issues that you need to consider before moving forward with the project. In some cases, it will take more effort than it is worth, but in others, it can be an effective and simple way to change the appearance and materials of your flooring.