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I have done some research and mostly I have found that putting cement board on top of plywood is the general answer to tile on wood, but it doesn't really fit my situation as much as I had hoped...

I want to do a little project to cover the corner of my closet where my old cats' litterbox was. They used to pee next to it sometimes so it smells awful! I plan to rip the corner carpet out, bleach the concrete floor, and seal it with poly. I thought about tiling that, but then I got a better idea!

I want to build a small base out of wood and then tile it mosaic-style. That way I can put the litter box back on top (different cat, hopefully not the same issue as the other), and it will cover the area while still looking great and being able to move it if I need to so that when I move out I can put another piece of carpet down and the next owner won't have to deal with a little mosaic in the corner of their closet.

Do you have recommendations on how to do something like that? Do I need to put cement board on the little wood platform or can I tile straight to it? Must it be plywood or can it be something thicker like pine? Tips please, I have never worked with tile before!

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2 Answers 2

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The reason for cement board is to give a good adhesion surface and to increase stability. When a floor flexes from the weight of people walking, or from movement of the house, grout and even the tiles themselves can crack. For a temporary platform intended for a cat box, you're not looking at a lot of weight causing flexing, so I doubt there'd be much cracking. For adhesion, just check the product you're using to make sure it will adhere to wood, but I believe most thin sets and especially any mastic will work without issue.

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Whatever you end up doing to cover the area you should first take steps to completely remove the previous cat smell. Cat's have sensitive noses and if a new cat can smell even a trace of the previous smell they will get the immediate idea that it is OK to urinate in that area again. There are cleaners that work really well at removing the smell after you have removed as much of the previous material as possible. Like you suggested, take out the carpet and any wooden base board that may be in that corner. Then soak the area with an enzyme type cleaner to neutralize the cat urine deposits. I have had great success with the Nature's Miracle products in the past. In a similar situation I poured the enzyme cleaner onto the concrete and adjacent wood framing and let it soak there for multiple days before going back to check if a re-application was necessary.

Once the area is properly de-oderized you can put down a new floor surface. Personally I would avoid using tiles as they will have absorbent grout lines around the edges that could be trap for future cat mistakes. If the litter box must go in this area then I would put down a piece of one sheet vinyl material to cover the floor area. If there was a base board that was removed you could even consider an installation where the vinyl is cut out in the corner and then allowed to turn up and be glued to the lower three inches or so of the wall(s).

The key message here is to not try to cover up the previous problem. Remove it and then replace with a solution that will be easier to clean up in the future.

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