How to Tile Over Hardwood Flooring

By: Danny Lipford

Can I tile directly over finished wood flooring that is in good condition? -Melanie

Hi Melanie,

You shouldn’t tile directly over hardwood flooring, since it can expand, contract, and cup due to seasonal changes in temperature and humidity.

If the hardwood flooring is composed of narrow boards with a very smooth, flat surface, you could leave the flooring in place and screw cement backer board down on top of it before applying the tile.

The best approach would be to remove the wood flooring and screw down a layer of 5/8” or thicker plywood followed by a layer of 1/2″ cement backer board before laying the tile.

Good luck with your project,

Danny

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20 Comments on “How to Tile Over Hardwood Flooring”

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  • Irishman Says:
    August 19th, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Just get the right height for doorways and other rooms. 1/2 inch backer board. Make sure everyone after laying is level. Over hardwood. Linolieum. Everything except existing tile. Take it up. Scrape and level as much as possible. Start. Fresh. Main thing is level



  • scott Says:
    June 15th, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    can I lay down tile on top of plywood without hardy board



  • Alan Martin Says:
    February 7th, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    I’ve followed the discussion for installing tile over linoleum by first installing backer board over the plywood subfloor. My subfloor is a concrete slab here in Texas. Can I use backer board held down with those blue concrete screws?



  • Chris Says:
    September 11th, 2015 at 2:08 am

    i was told by an aquaintance that i could lay tile over my existing hardwood floor without having to remove flooring or lay backer board over the hardwood flooring. i was told to use a type of water resistant membrane/underlayment, possibly used for roofing according to aquaintance, on top of hardwood flooring first then i could begin to lay my tiles. does this sound legit and if so what types of underlayment do you recommend using that want break the bank.?



  • Anita K Says:
    June 28th, 2015 at 7:42 am

    I have a large bathroom that is covered in tile. Could I tile over the existing tile? I want to add a band of decorative tiles around the room to make it look less boring.



  • janice Says:
    January 19th, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Hi, we have old wood floors throughout the house. Can i put cement backerboard right over that and then put my ceramic tiles on?
    thx jan



  • Vince Says:
    December 10th, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Hi,
    I have a concrete floor that has a wood tile lay over it. I am wanting to lay ceramic tile. Do i need to remove the wood tile or install backer board?



  • keith Says:
    December 8th, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Hi danny,
    I am a installer of flooring. I would like to know how to run the bathroom tile floor flush to the shower floor and get the pitch for the drain? thank you very much
    keith schubbe

    p.s. your tv program is a great show!!



  • faye kimbrough Says:
    June 3rd, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I had ceramic floor tile put down. What makes the grout keep cracking in different spots on the floor? All steps where taken to prepare the floor. I have ran out of answers and things to use please help.



  • freddy Says:
    March 21st, 2012 at 8:30 am

    how to lay cement board on a wood sudfloor in a bathroom a, large bathroom.we are remoilbing our bathroom needing help on getting it rigth ,with flooring and drywall in a wet place this will be the second time i take no a big project for my wife the firt was our bedroom not go but i do it.CAN YOU HELP ME OUT



  • Tabitha Says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 2:32 am

    First a quick over view of what is going on. I had water damage from above, It is now fixed. Below where the most danage is my entryway. It is about 13 ft x 5 ft. I plan to tile 1/2 7ft x 5ft. The remainer that leads into 3 different areas kithen (tiled) Remaining entryway and large living room (all original hardwood in a 1950 home, Might be replace or floated over or pulled out and replaced from scratch) I am having difficulty determining this also.

    Ok I have have had 2 or 3 different contractors tell me 3 different things about tiling over hardwood floors.

    I was told that I should just lay 1/4 inch backer board no membrane (its being installed in a entry way, not alot of moisture, but high traffic) onto the hardwood floor, because it will expand ext at different rates and amts. This person said taking up the floor and laying plywood, then backer is a waste of time and money.

    ON the Other hand another person says to pull up the floor because of the expansion and contraction of the hardwood floors. And to lay plywood that shouldnt move much at all then the backer board this appears to be a less solid more hassel apprach, but more practical way for logevity of the narble tiles I will be installing. The contractor against pulling up the floor says I should not pull up any more of the floor then I have to because it will make it less stable even with the plywood and backer (explained above).

    Then another contractor say either or all would work we just need to make sure we account for the heigt change since it will be directly adjacent to the remainder of the hardood floors and tiles kitchen floor. I am less worried about that because changing the backer to 1/4 from 1/2 or vise versa should take care of most of that, and there are many ways to even these floors out after the tile is installed unless its like a 1/2 inch higher. Even then there is some brown plactic lining or thin wood (overhangs or whatever they are called) that can make it come togrther. Even if I just added new HW flooring to the remainder of the entryway and hallway and did a dor stop thing between the living room and it. There is just so many options.

    So you can see my confusion here. Any comments would be greatly appreciated ASAP since I need to make up my mind with in a week.

    Decisions Decesions!!

    Thank You
    Tabitha

    Also, instead of doing another post id like to just add my next delimma in. Is there a way to tell if a floor can be fully redone sanded, stained the whole works? I was told that one of 2 large floors in my home had reached its max amount of resanding do to its thinness of being sanded so many other times. I really, would like to know this, who or how can I find this out? Is there any specialilty non-biased persons I can call that can look at a small piese of both flooring and tell me?



  • MIKE Says:
    February 16th, 2012 at 10:20 am

    WOULD USING THE DITRA MEMBRANE OVER 3/4 HARD FLOORING BE
    ACCEPTABLE PRIOR TO TILING ?



  • pamela Says:
    August 26th, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Hi can i put something down be sides backer borad that not so thick because i have floting flooring in my bed rooms and if i put down backer borad in my living room the hight will be off ,can i put a thin layer of cement on my plywood i am in a real JAM?



  • Laura Says:
    August 3rd, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Hi have original hardwood flooring 1907 home. Prior owner put down vinyl. I would like to place tile now. Would I have to place down backer board or can I just tile on top of hardwood flooring?



  • dom Says:
    March 1st, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I’m ripping out my tile in the kitchen and I’m planning to retile it. The tile sits on 1/4″ backer board which sits on 1/4″ ply. Under the ply is 1×4 tounge and groove. My 1950’s home has 3/4″ diagonal 1x4s for the sub floor. can I put 1/4″ cement board on the toune and groove?



  • chuck Says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 3:35 am

    i was told by an aquaintance that i could lay tile over my existing hardwood floor without having to remove flooring or lay backer board over the hardwood flooring. i was told to use a type of water resistant membrane/underlayment, possibly used for roofing according to aquaintance, on top of hardwood flooring first then i could begin to lay my tiles. does this sound legit and if so what types of underlayment do you recommend using that want break the bank.?


  • Official Comment:


    Ben Erickson Says:
    August 1st, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Hi Jerry,
    Same thing, exterior grade B-C plywood.



  • Jerry Slutts Says:
    August 1st, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    what grade of plywood (specifically) would I buy to lay on 2″x8″ tongue and groove floors, that are going to be covered with Hardy Board, then tile?


  • Official Comment:


    Ben Erickson Says:
    August 1st, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Hi Jerry,
    Use a smooth, exterior grade of plywood (usually sold as Exterior B-C, which describes the quality of the face plys). This is a step up from sheathing that is used on exterior walls and beneath roofing, and is not only smoother but is usually flatter as well. Good luck with your project!



  • Jerry Slutts Says:
    August 1st, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    what grade of plywood (specifically) would I buy to lay on hardwood floors, that are going to be covered with Hardy Board, then tile?


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