When I bought my house, its marble floors appeared to be in good condition. However, they have steadily chipped, fissured and fractured until reaching their current fragmented state. The picture shows where the gap in the subfloor directly aligns with the cracks in the overlaid tiles.

cracked marble tiles directly on subfloor

This post discusses improperly installed tile that was mortared directly over a subfloor. Some of the responders warn the original poster to redo the project immediately, and to install a backer board before mortaring the tiles.

Tile directly adhered to subfloor

Is there any alternative to tearing up the entire floor? I want to ensure that no other options remain before fully removing them.

Thanks in advance.

  • What are you thinking of using for new floor? Think most coverings, be better to remove, even with a floating type floor(laminated wood)
    – crip659
    Feb 19, 2021 at 0:45
  • The subfloor seems too flexible to support tiles. I plan to replace the marble with laminate, but want to make sure that I haven't overlooked some less drastic approach. Feb 19, 2021 at 1:47
  • Since all tiles cracked in a line, it looks like the floor flexed on that plywood joint. Either the house settled, the floor swelled, or the edges of the subfloor weren't rigidly attached to a joist. I'd screw everything down, add some epoxy in the cracks with a little fiberglass over it (especially if it is a low spot). Then I'd re-lay the tiles with thinset. i'd probably re-use the existing tiles though. To be honest, this often happens with this type of marble tile.
    – gbronner
    Feb 19, 2021 at 4:04
  • you were scammed, but that's a question for Law, not DIY.
    – Jasen
    Feb 19, 2021 at 4:23
  • 1
    Laminate could go over the tiles if we could be positive they would not break more. Thinking after a few years they probably have major openings in places if left down. Be best to do it right now and have it last for years than needing a redo in a few.
    – crip659
    Feb 19, 2021 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


Natural marble is tough on a good base won’t hold up well at all in most cases with a substandard base. Since you have already started you might as well continue. Get a wider brick chisel this helps pop them off easier, that’s what I use like a Dasco Pro. If you stay with tile use a backer and use thinset to glue the backer to the wood then screw it down makes it much more solid base. If you have a air compressor here is where a air chisel can shine and pop the tiles really quick. I would verify that is tile below it looks like wood and may be the sub floor. A better picture of the surface below may change the suggestion what year was the home built.

  • yes, it's subfloor under the marble tiles. Feb 19, 2021 at 1:47
  • 1
    a chisel tool in a rotary hammer drill (in hammer only mode) is another option, but yeah an air chisel is easier to hold.
    – Jasen
    Feb 19, 2021 at 4:21
  • @jasen, I do have an electric demo drill that works ok it is not as fast as the air chisel but a good option.
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 19, 2021 at 7:16

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