prepping to lay ceramic tile

Hi all, I have a kitchen floor I'm replacing the tile in. i popped a few tiles and it looks like there's cement with wire mesh that the tile is stuck to (sometimes they pop off without the cement, sometimes with). underneath the mesh looks to be support beams. Before laying the new tile how should i prepare the floor? it's an older building (1890, 1900 in nyc) so I don't want to rip up too much if I can avoid it.
-thanks in advance! -Dave
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

There has to be a wood subfloor under the mesh. Typicaly the mesh is nailed down to a plywood subfloor. The mesh is there to give the thin set something to bond to since you can't put ceramic tile directly on wood. Now in days wonderboard is used instead of the wire mesh except for in shower walls. I haven't worked on too many houses that old, but that would have to be some HEAVY duty mesh to support the entire floor for all this time. It sounds like no matter what your gonna have to take it all up and put in a sub floor before you can lay any tile. I don't know how much help that is, but good luck with your project. Steve
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If the previous tile job were real old, it would have predated the cement board used today. Instead it sounds like they used a bed or mortar with wire lath layed in for reinforcement (still do it that way for shower pans).
I think you probably have to rip it back to the wood subfloor and start from scratch using new cement board. If you can tolerate the extra height and the tile comes up clean leaving most of that old substrate behind you can try and tile back onto it but I think you will find it too uneven to be worth it. You can also tile over the old tile but that is a real buildup in height.
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