Removing Sub-floor

I am pulling out vinyl flooring in our laundry room and will be replacing it with ceramic tile. My question is how to remove the plywood subfloor so I can install backerboard? I figure to use the circular saw to score it to the appropriate depth, then pull it loose, but that only works untill you're 4" - 6" from the walls. Any nearer, and the circular saw won't fit.
On the other hand, can I install ceramic tile on top of the plywood subfloor? Obviously, that would be easier than tearing out the subfloor and replacing it with backerboard.
Thanks,
KB
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I'm working on the exact same project in the bathroom, and my understanding is that the backerboard is installed on top of the subfloor. This is to make the subfloor sturdier for the tiles.
--Jodi
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When I've done this I opted to put the backerboard over the top of the plywood and linoleum. I figured it would make the floor stiffer then by just putting the tile over the plywood, and possbily avoid cracks. I used nails and adhesive both, and the ones I've done like this have stayed in good shape. fwiw, I talked with several professionals beforehand and they all seemd to recommend that method.
Kyle Boatright wrote:

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More detail follows..
I may have used the wrong terminology in my original post. I should have asked how to remove the plywood underlayment, not the sub floor...
What I appear to have is vinyl over two layers of plywood. My assumption is that I want to remove the vinyl and top layer of plywood and go back in with backerboard, then tile. As it stands, the floor is very stable with the two layers of ply. No waves, squeaks, or apparent flex.
However,if I can just install ceramic over the 2 layers of ply, that's simple and easy.
Bottom line, I want to do it right so it'll last.
KB
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I imagine that in any event, you'll have to trim the door casings, since (backerboard + thinset + tile) is thicker than (plywood underlayment + vinyl tile). So the downside to leaving the plywood underlayment there is that it will increase the height difference to neighboring floors. The upside is less trouble and a firmer end result.
Cheers, Wayne
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Usually there is 3/4" plywood installed on the floor joists as the subfloor. On top of this is thick finished floors such as 3/4" wood flooring. To keep floors level from room to room, if the finished floor will be something thin like carpet or vinyl, there is usually a 1/2" particle board used as underlayment. If you pull up the vinyl floor you will probably have a 1/2" underlayment which can be rmoved by pulling up all the nails (and, let me tell you, that's a barrel of fun!). Once the underlayment is up, you put down the backer board and tile. You could put the backer board down on top of the vinyl put I'd bet that would make your finished tile floor much higher than the adjoining rooms. If not, leave the underlayment in place and save yourself a bunch of work.
Steve.
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of those tongue-and-groove extra-thick things, there is probably a second layer of something between the plywood and the vinyl, known as underlayment. In the old days, it was chipboard- not sure what is common now, since I am long out of the business. Backerboard is not intended to span air, at least on floors- it needs plywood under it.
Is there a floor or base-board mounted heat register in the room? If so, pull it out, and examine the exposed edge of the flooring system. What year was your house built, and what part of the country are you in? Post back with that info, and the actual experts (not just old farts like me who grew up in construction) on here can tell you what you will likely be facing. Rental place will have saws that can cut close to edge, but if you have underlayment over subfloor, you probably won't need them, since underlayment doesn't go under the sill plate of the walls. Just score-cut like you said, remove the field material, and pop out the edge pieces with a pry bar.
Whatever floor system you put down will likely end up being 1/2 in to 3/4 inch taller than what is there now- expect to have to change out the baseboards and shoe mold, possibly trim doors and frames, and come up with some kind of transition strip at the door sills.
If any of this seems confusing, suggest buying (or at least leafing through) whatever DIY flooring book the big-box has on the shelf.
aem sends....
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Is height an issue? If not, leave it, perhaps going over it with some screws to secure everything tight. Also, there is a relatively new underlayment that is being used as opposed to backerboard. It's an orange piece of plastic that is placed down with thinset. You then tile over top of this material (thinset on top and then tile). This stuff is flexible absorbing all movement which will reduce cracking and such. Check out this product. I wish I had a name for you, but I'm sure your local home building center will know about it.

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