Your old tile floor has served you well, but you feel that it’s time for a change. However, when you think of all the work and money you have to spend, you get a headache. Is it possible to get a new floor without the hassle of removing the old one? As it happens, the answer is yes — if you choose laminate.
What Exactly Is Laminate?
Laminate floors were invented in the 1970s, and since then, they gained enormous popularity. That’s partly due to their price, ease of installation, and resistance to scratching and damage. Other than that, though, laminate is appealing because it has the look of real wood without the disadvantages that come with it.
But what exactly is this flooring type made of? Well, laminate floors usually have three layers — base layer, image layer, and wear sheet. Here is what you need to know about each of these:
- The base layer or core is about a half-inch thick and made of densely compressed wood-chip material. Because wood is susceptible to water, most laminate manufacturers add another layer of plastic under the core to protect it.
- The image layer is what makes laminate so unique — it contains several sheets of photo paper that show the picture of different flooring. For instance, your laminate can look like hardwood, ceramic, or natural stone, depending on the design you choose.
- The wear sheet is the top layer of laminate applied to protect it from damage and scratches. Typically, it’s a transparent plastic sheet or a coat of aluminum oxide.
Can You Install Laminate Over Tile?
The short answer to this question is yes, you can. Laminate is a floating floor, which means you don’t have to glue it or nail it to the subfloor. In a way, floating floors work like giant puzzles — each floorboard locks into place with other boards without adhesives.
Obviously, since a floating floor doesn’t need to stick to the subfloor, it can be installed over other materials. That means that you don’t have to tear off your old floor before you lay down laminate. In fact, it goes quite easily over hardwood, vinyl, linoleum, and of course, tile. So if you’re thinking of replacing your tile floor with laminate, don’t hesitate — it’s quick and simple!
Why Would You Install Laminate Over Tile?
As practical as laminate is, there’s no doubt that tile is more durable and sturdy. If taken care of properly, it can last between 75 and 100 years! With its lifespan of up to 25 years, laminate is nowhere near as long-lasting, nor is it quite as resistant.
Still, many people nowadays choose to replace their tile floor with laminate. Their reasons may differ, but a popular one is that tile often feels cold and hard, whereas laminate is fairly soft on the feet. On top of that, laminate is easy and quick to clean. Tile, on the other hand, requires a little more maintenance.
But most importantly, when you grow tired of your old tiles, there’s no easier solution than adding laminate on top. You won’t have to pay for an expensive tear-off and installation of the new floor. In fact, you can do everything yourself and have a brand new floor in just a couple of hours!
In addition, you may pick any design you like! If hardwood floors often catch your eye, but they’re too pricey to lay down, laminate is the way to go. It looks just like wood, and it’s quick and cheap to install!
How to Install Laminate Floor Over Tile
Whether you’re laying it on the subfloor or tiles, a laminate floor is extremely simple to lay down. You won’t need any professional help — it’s enough to look up a guide on how to do it. Luckily for you, we have one right here!
What You’ll Need
- A knife
- A hammer
- Circular saw or handsaw
- Underlayment (like Roberts Moisture Barricade Underlayment)
- Laminate boards
- Baseboard molding (Orac Decor Baseboard Moulding)
Before you begin, you’ll need to prepare the old tiles. They have to be smooth, clean, and flat, so make sure to sweep or vacuum the floor thoroughly. Once that’s done, you may wish to test the layout of your laminate floor by laying down the boards. This step isn’t really necessary, but it will give you a better sense of where the planks should be and what areas could cause trouble.
Now remove the boards and place the underlayment on the tiles. Usually, it’s enough to lay down a foam sheeting, but if you’re worried about moisture, add a plastic layer underneath. Cover the whole floor, tape the sheets together, and use the knife to trim the edges so they fit against the walls.
When you finish that, it’s time to begin laying down the boards. That’s fairly easy, but you might have to measure and cut the planks to make them fit. You’ll do that using the circular saw or handsaw. Make sure to leave some space between the wall and the first row of planks — a ¼ inch, for instance.
To lock the planks together, you’ll need to use a hammer. Don’t leave any gaps between joints — they should be firmly closed. Keep laying boards until you cover the whole floor. Finally, install baseboard molding along the walls to close the gaps you left.
If you’re more of a visual type, here’s a perfect video to guide you!
Though installing a laminate floor over tile may seem fairly straightforward, there are still some things you should pay attention to. After all, if you don’t do the job well or ignore potential problems, you can end up having to do additional work and repairs. So here is what you should look out for when laying your laminate:
Uneven Tiles With Wide Grout Lines
As we’ve said before, the tiles need to be flat, smooth, and clean. If there is any bumpiness, or the grout lines are wide and deep, you could experience issues. For example, if a joint happens to lie just over a hump on the tile, it could suffer additional pressure and eventually separate when you step on it.
The solution to this problem is relatively simple — you need to level the floor with a leveling compound. Just pour it on the tiles and wait for it to settle. Once it does, you can start laying the floorboards.
Floor That Is Too High
Adding laminate and underlayment can raise your floor height by ½ inch or more, which will be quite visible in doorways and transitions to other floor types. Luckily, that isn’t too much of a problem — you can easily solve it with some transition strips. All you have to do is leave a small gap between the two floor types and nail the strip there. The height difference will become virtually invisible!
Unfortunately, laminate isn’t waterproof, and moisture can warp and ruin it. Thus, it’s best not to put it in rooms where there is a lot of water, such as bathrooms. And to be on the safe side, make sure to add some water-resistant underlayment and wipe the laminate carefully when you spill any liquid on it.
Related: How to Waterproof Wood for Bathroom
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to replace your old tile floor, covering it with laminate is the way to go. You don’t need to hire any help, nor will your house be unusable for days. In fact, grab all the necessary materials and do it yourself — you’ll have a brand new floor in less than a day!