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The Chemist

Kitchen tile removal and then what?

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So started to remove some tile from my kitchen floor. (~90% is broken) What I had figured, there is hard wood floors under the tile, thus why everything is cracking. So I started to sand the floor to see the condition of the wood, only problem is it appears that some places have mortar and others have glue or whatever. The sanding caused one big "dust cloud" so I changed to scraping but I only had a 1/4" chisel. It probably took 2hours to clean most of a 3'x4' area.

Now what I don't know is do I try and clean everything up and refinish the floor or do I go another route. Vinyl or tile. I know that if tile or vinyl is going down I will probably need to lay cement board or something else first. What would be the cheapest yet last within a kitchen. I have three children under the age of 8 also.

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How big in the kitchen?

I made a big mess out of the subfloor at a previous house taking out heavily-glued carpet and old, old linoleum. It took way less time to rip out the old subfloor and put in new. The new vinyl had a clean and level base and I couldn't have been happier with the end result.

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I agree, depending on the condition of the hardwood floor you might be better off in the long run to get rid of it. If its loose, not matter what you put on top of it will move with too.

So the old tile busted up for a reason, was it loose flooring, improper mortar bed, or deflection in the floor?

Without seeing what you have its hard to say what would be best.

If the hardwood is OK and you want tiles but you have deflection in the floor then you'll have to stiffen the floor. Then add the backer board over the hardwood. If you can't stiffen the floor you can go with vinyl. You'll add 1/4 birch or BC plywood over the old floor. If you remove the old hardwood and replaced with 3/4 plywood(one side sanded)you can go over that with vinyl. Just a note on the vinyl floor. You won't hide any imperfections with it, in fact vinyl will magnify every tiny imperfection.

Another alternative would be a laminate. Probably your easiest and cheapest alternative but one that won't last.

Water and laminates don't do well but if you pick one with a glue joint that'll help.

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It doesn't appear that the floor is loose, but the floor I'm guessing could be 50+ yrs old. It's too hard to figure out when the additions to the house were done.

Brief description of what I saw when I pulled up an area of tile: There was mortar in a few places, and then there was a yellowish product everywhere else. I'm guessing the mortar in places was 1/8" thick or so and the other was ~1/16", obviously a real guess on depth but there was a noticable difference between the two and then there was the grout between the tiles. In a way it appears as though some of the boards bowed up on the sides so the the middle of the board was the low point. Hope this helps will try to get some pictures.

Thanks for your help so far.

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I would tear everything out and lay new subfloor. Its not that expensive or complicated and it will ensure the best results in the end.

One thing to keep in mind is the height of the finished floor. The previous owners of my house put in a laminate floor in the kitchen but they kept putting newflooring on top of old and now there is about a 2 inch difference between kitchen and dinning room, people always trip on it the first time they come over. I will be tearing it all out and going down to all new subfloor and starting over the right way.

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Aaron good to see you here.

It sounds like the previous job didn't use enough and in some spots no motor. Its up to you if you feel the flooring is stable enough to tile over. As said though, its not that big of job to take the old flooring out and replace with plywood.

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Yeah, I stop in once in awhile still. New job and new house keeps me busy. I find myself on the home improvement and lawn care pages more then I the Duluth page these days.

Still need to take a break and hit fish lake one of these days, I haven't been up in over a year now.

Anyways, back on topic... It does sounds like the old tile was on an uneven bed of mortar. That will allow the tile to rock and ultimately crack. Chances are at some point someone tried to fix the problem using another glue/mortar, that would explain you seeing two kinds of adhesive. There's no substitue for doing it right the first time.

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There's no substitue for doing it right the first time.

Amen to that!

I've been putting in hardwood floors in my brothers new house and I can see the advantages of things done right and not cutting corners. This house of mine has probably had every corner cut from top to bottom.

1. The tile in the kitchen

2. The water heater is vented down

3. The basement shower has one of 2 problems - either not vented properly or trap isn't right.

4. Electrical wiring in the attic was laying exposed in the attic.

5. Has returns on the outside walls and vents on the inside walls.

6. Front room does not have heat or AC and doens't appear to be insulated properly.

7. There are 3 new style of windows, different manufacturers. And 2 old style windows. One of the new windows was pinched into the opening so it can only be opened a couple of inches.

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There can be many many reasons that the tile on the floor cracked, and like it has been posted before, tearing out to the joists is best, this gives you the opportunity to stiffen up the floor system by sistering joist, if possible, also replacing the subfloor with new 3/4" t&g.

Remember if replacing with new tile you want to check the deflection of the joists, as well as spacing, to make sure you don't have the same problem agian. Deflection for tile should not exceed L/360 for ceramic and porcelain and L/720 for natural stone, with joist spacing of 16" or less is fine with 3/4" floor, but over that a second layer of 3/8" min plywood before backerboard would be a good idea.

I just did this in a house we bought and moved into. 2x8 joists with 1/2" plywood and 5/8" particle board eek, and on top of that a 250 gallon aquarium and stand, at 8.8 lbs per gallon I believe, that's about the weight of a compact car, over 15 years this sagged the floor down almost 2" from the perimeter to the center....no good. Tore out to joists, put new ones along side old. New subfloor and was good to go. Alot of work, sure, but's it's done with and I can sleep at night.

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