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.
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:
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.
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
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.
You DO NOT want to remove the plywood subfloor. Unless your subfloor is one
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.
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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