Old tile - To remove or not to remove...

I have about a 200 SF kitchen area with two layers of tile. The bottom layer is very old, probably installed 40 years ago or more. On top is a layer of stick-on Armstrong vinyl I installed myself about 15 years back. For various reasons (because SWMBO wants to being in the forefront), I'm facing the prospect of putting down a new floor. The area is sufficiently irregular to make one-piece flooring impractical, or at least uneconomical, so we're looking at other stuff, such as the engineered wood products or ceramic tile.
Most of the existing floor is tight & in decent shape, save about 10 SF in front of the dishwasher (thanks to a chronic but undetected leak) and another area where a cabinet was removed.
My question is the eternal one: Do I take off the two layers of existing tile first, or can I go directly on top? I understand that for the tile option, I would be adding " of cement board and another " of tile on top of an already raised floor. I can live with that.
Whether or not I need to is another question, and raises more questions. Is the old tile likely to be a royal pain in the ass to remove? Were there asbestos or other potentially hazardous materials in the old tile that would be better to leave in place?
Alternatively, all of the loose and damaged tile is only the top layer. Is it likely this will be more easily removed? If so, I'd be comfortable with a direct application of a thin material on top of the old.
Lastly, do you have any recommendations as to other flooring products for application above two layers of tile?
TIA, Joe F.
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If this is a kitchen and you tile over the existing floor, watch the height under the dishwasher opening.
It's certainly possible that the older layer might be asbestos tile and/or have been installed with an asbestos containing mastic.
One red flag for possible asbestos floor tile is a 9"x9" size, another is an appearance like one of these:
http://mainegov-images.informe.org/dep/rwm/asbestos/photoalbulm/vinylasbestosfloor.jpg
http://www.dolir.mo.gov/ls/nursinghomes/Pictures/possible_asbestos_tiles.jpg
http://www.bainenvironmental.com/images/whitetile.jpg
http://www.isitasbestos.com/images/floortile_sm.jpg
Needless to say, you probably don't want to turn a weekend tile project into a asbestos abatement program, so before removing tile or adhesive that might contain asbestos have an industrial hygienist or other qualified individual sample and identify suspect material, and if it is asbestos research your options, asbestos contaning material can sometmes be left in place if in good condition.
Michael Thomas Paragon Home Inspection, LLC Chicago, IL mdtATparagoninspectsDOTcom Eight47-721-0776
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"MDT at Paragon Home Inspections, LLC" wrote in message

That certainly hit the nail on the head. The dishwasher opening is indeed one of my concerns; and I would probably end up lifting the countertop if I went with the tile option (the countertop is a whole 'nother project.). As it is now, the dishwasher barely fits in the opening with only the newer stick-ons. To get it out for service, I need to use putty knives to "ramp up" onto the newer tile. Adding a half inch to the floor elevation would make the dishwasher permanent. <g>
Wandering through the flooring section at the local HD, I realized I could probably do the same thing with new vinyl tile I was planning with the ceramic, i.e., use a diamond pattern instead of the typical square pattern. That should help cover the seam separations on the existing, and would certainly make the job easier and faster. Too bad I hate those things. I dunno.
Tx, Joe
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Were it me, i would rip it all out because you have the area in front of the dishwasher to deal with and it's starting to get pretty thick. I had a house once that had 5-6 layers of vinyl and a couple layers of plywood/luann and it made the floor joist bow down in the middle. So *I* would remove it.
The asbestos deal is something to look out for but may be removable without too much fuss, though ymmv. I have what seems like 12 million sq feet of the stuff (see previous post - it's 9x9 inches and looks like that and if you break one, you can see the fibers) and it comes up very easily cause it's been there for 60 years.
As for what to put as the flooring - I am not on the laminate bandwagon, I've seen friends that have it and it is affected by moisture and heat a little bit. If you never think you'll drop a whole 2-litre bottle of wine like my roomate did, then you're ok. I just worry about that too much I guess. Kitchens = ceramic in my book.
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