Should I replace particle board underlayment before installing ceramic tile?

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Original Post: Remove vinyl and underlayment before installing tile?

apsuhead Member

I am removing vinyl from our kitchen and bathrooms and installing backer board/ceramic tile. In our last home, I just removed the vinyl and my tile guy did the rest. I am going to attempt to tile this myself. My new house has a thin underlayment over the subfloor and under the vinyl. Should I remove this underlayment before putting down the backer board? Not sure how difficult this...

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Two Parts:Preparing for InstallationInstalling the Cement boardCommunity Q&A

Installing ceramic floor tile to a plywood sub-floor has unique challenges beyond that of installation on a concrete floor. Plywood or OSB (flakeboard) can expand and contract at too high a rate to be a stable foundation for tile. This will cause either the tile itself to crack and even come loose, or cause the grout to crack inside the joints. This could happen right away or within months of the installation. If done properly, a tile installation should last many years without cracking. This article will provide necessary tips to minimize issues with unstable...

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Updated December 31, 2015.

Cement board is generally required as an underlayment to tile installations because it is resilient against moisture and impervious to penetration by liquid agents. It is made from a mixture of cement and sand , which is reinforced by an outer layer of fiberglass mesh.

An alternative to this is fiber cement board, which is similarly made, but which has fiber reinforcement which is integrated into the structure of the material.

This allows it to be thinner than regular cement board, and it is subsequently used in places where height is an issue. Dens shield is another popular choice, made from water resistant gypsum board. All of these are installed in the same manner.

When is it time to hire a professional?

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Time To Complete: 1-2 hours depending on the size of the room and the cuts necessary.

Materials Required

Cement board or alternative underlayment material Thinset...
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1. Prepare a solid, squeak-free subfloor One of the keys to a long-lasting tile installation is the underlying subfloor. It has to be rock solid before you lay the 1/2-in. thick cement board. Whatever your subfloor is made of, be sure it’s squeak free before you install the cement board. Screwing the plywood down to the floor joists should take care of most squeaks.

To determine your subfloor construction, pull off a heating grate and look at the exposed subfloor edges. Here’s how to prepare the most common subfloor types: 1/2-in. plywood with 5/8-in. particleboard underlayment. Remove the particleboard and screw the plywood to the floor joists with 1-5/8 in. drywall screws spaced every 6 in. Install a layer of 5/8-in. CDX plywood and screw it to the subfloor with 1-5/8 in. drywall screws spaced every 4 in. 3/4-in. tongue-and-groove plywood or OSB (oriented strand board). No extra layers of underlayment are required. Just screw the floor down with 1-5/8 in. drywall screws...
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Labor Prices Fees & charges change from town to town, region to region, the best ways I can suggest to find a good range is: Run a short ad in Craigslist, that will likely

… get you someone hungry & maybe unlicensed so you will know the cheapest price. Then call the local Home Depot or Lowes & ask what they charge if you buy your tile from them? That will be the highest price in the market Now you would have a good range & then its time to look for quality & references. a steal on tile or a great price on labor, can be VERY COSTLY if you give the job to a butcher.. My bet will be you will find someone on the low end at about $2 per sq ft & that the depot will be $6-8 bucks a foot after they do all the add ins... Get it in writing. Never pay for it all upfront The Rev sez Hope this helps...
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If you have a wood subfloor, after you rip up the old particleboard, lay down 15 lb felt paper (if you don't already have it down), and then replace the particleboard with plywood of same thickness. I think our installers used 3/4" BC plywood. (one side was "nice") They left about 1/2"-3/4" gap between it and the drywall, which will be covered by your base trim anyway. Usually your drywall will stop about 3/4" before the subfloor too.

If you have a concrete floor/slab, let a flooring expert on here answer your question. I have no idea on that one.

Also, most of the solid wood flooring sites have good information about installing 3/4" solid wood floors and subfloor prep, as well as the National Wood Flooring Association (google that one).

Hope that helps and good...

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Trying to think, I don't quite remember the tile terminology myself, they were concrete and glazed ( i guess that's the term i was thinking of, not ceramic). It's that glazing that wears while the tile lasts that doesn't. All the roofs in my area this age are pretty much the same condition, i remember going up on mine, there was no glazing left @ 20 years..and it had been that way a good long while before i moved in. But accordingly I guess the concrete tiles are much cheaper too.

Sorry can't help with the underlayment, i know when we got the metal done, there was choice of paper or the new stuff, with the new stuff being if we get hit by a hurricane it stays on better and prevents further water damage if panels get ripped off.

Yes that steel that looks like tile, it's amazing, there's a house a street over , really high 2 or 3 story or something crazy built during the boom (then foreclosed on later). I watched them put it up panel by panel. It's sharp...

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I am planning to install new ceramic tile in a bedroom converted to a bathroom (12 ft by 10ft). The 20-year old house is a pier and beam with 1/2" plywood subfloor, 1/2" particle board underlayment and then 1/2" plywood underlayment on top of the particle board. To keep the floor height level with the hall, I was going to pull up the top 1/2" plywood, then put down 1/2" plywood and then Hardibacker...and finally tile.

Reading a previous post, it sounds like I should also pull up the particle board and then put down 3/4" plywood...then the Hardibacker and tile. While I know I can pull up the top 1/2" plywood...I'm not sure whether the particle board may be glued to the plywood....thus adding alot of extra work to remove it.

Before I dive in and tear out both layers...can I put a moisture barrier between the 1/4" plywood and particle board to reduce risk of water damage? Saw RedGuard mentioned in a previous post...not sure if it would be applicable...

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I'm a complete newb when it comes to tile...

I contracted through a big box to have my kitchen floor tiled, it's about 10x13 area, the joists are dimensional 2x10 @ 16 OC, the sub is 1x8 planks (so just over 3/4", I think 13/16") at 90* to the joists.

The contractor laid Hardi500 over the plank subfloor and bonding it down with about 6 tubes of liquid nails, the hardiscrews along the joists and about a million 1" crown-point staples.

He swore up and down this would be a perfect floor, no additional ply, thinset, etc were needed. I paid top dollar for the labor on the install.

The tiles are 12x12 ceramic.

It's been looking good for about 2 months, but now I'm scared, so when should I expect the cracking and problems? This summer when the humidity rises?

If it matters, I was told to supply all the materials so I chose flexabond which I thought might help handle flex in the floor better (again, complete newb, so I stood there and read the...

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Black & Decker LI4000 3.6-Volt Lithium-Ion SmartSelect Screwdriver with Magnetic Screw Holder

Panel Underlayment: What to Use and How to Use It
October 1, 2006

This column is the first one of my fourth year writing for Floor Covering Installer. Its hard to believe my first column was in October of 2003. The time has sure flown by and I have had a lot of changes in my professional life in that time. Through it all, John Moore, Jeff Golden and the team at FCI have stuck by me and been a supportive and professional group to work for. For this I am very grateful and I also thank the readers of FCI for the many positive comments and suggestions I have received over the years.

Weve talked a lot about substrate preparation most of the time dealing with concrete testing and preparation- but today well cover panel underlayments such as plywood and what to watch out for when selecting and installing underlayment. I ...

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While I would like to subscribe to those ethics,in the real world,or at least New England,if I refused every job that couldnt be done totally to specs,I would have alot of time off. I make my retailer aware of the circumstances and rely on him to cover my ass when the floor fails.Hasnt screwed me yet .

I just do the best I have with what I have,and probably over compensate when there is the money and time to do things right.

I have been on the other side of a lawsuite when just such an incident happened. With the testimony of the contractor, retail store,and myself,stating that the customer asked us to do it that way to save money,the judge ruled in our favor. Would I want to press my luck again,no,but like I said I like to work every day.

Edited to say,There is no way in hell I would put Mirage over particle board. That day I would have to suck it up and go...

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