I'm preparing my kitchen floor for ceramic tile. Currently it's a sheet of vinyl(linoleum?). The plan was to sand off any gloss and tile over it. I was going around the edges picking off any loose areas and I noticed the top layer of the floor is peeling off and leaving behind a paper like layer which looks to be glued to the original vinyl floor. So it seems the vinyl layer is splitting in half. What would be the better surface to tile on? The paper like surface or the sanded vinyl? Please don't recommend pulling it completely off as that is out of time and budget.enter image description here

  • You should remove all floor coverings down to the subfloor. A sub-par base can lead to cracks in grout lines, loosening, and/or cracking of tiles, etc. It's always better to start fresh, on a solid base when tiling.
    – Tester101
    Apr 5, 2013 at 15:26
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    He specifically asked to not get a recommendation to pull it all off ;P
    – HerrBag
    Apr 5, 2013 at 15:34
  • I agree @Tester101, however the bottom original layer of vinyl is fused to the subfloor...and I need to start tiling tomorrow and only have half day to prep.
    – dotjoe
    Apr 5, 2013 at 15:35
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    @HerrBag You can't always get what you want.
    – Tester101
    Apr 5, 2013 at 15:48
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    @ppumpkin I razor bladed a clean edge from where I had peeled it off and tiled right over it.
    – dotjoe
    Apr 11, 2013 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, you NEED to remove or cover the old vinyl. If you attempt to tile over an unsecure base, you are wasting yout time and money because the tile will not stay down. In your case, if you go over the splitting vinyl, the vinyl will continue to separate and up will come the tiles. If you go over the paper layer, the mortar/quickset will not stick properly. If you don't want to strip everything, which is a very thankless job, and your subfloor may not be the greatest either, then screw down a layer of Hardi-backer. Hardy-backer or concrete board is the perfect base for your new tile. Good Luck

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    Ok, here is the answer to his direct question: Cover the entire area as is with embossing compound, lay your tile and then come back in a few months and do it all over again when you have the time and money to do it right. Apr 5, 2013 at 16:33
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    The hardibacker/wonderboard/durock backerboard IS a good compromise and will yield a good result. Some thinset over the portions where the vinyl was pulled off will help fill in for a level surface when screwed down.
    – HerrBag
    Apr 5, 2013 at 17:48
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    @ppumkin - Sometimes this site is not about answering the question the way the poster wants to hear the answer. This case is not special in that regard. People with experience and professionals have a duty to guide the DIY'er to do things the best and right way!! This is really no different than the many many electrical wiring ideas that people come here with and the experienced posters tell them that they really cannot do it the way they want and need to do it right or get in a professional to do the work.
    – Michael Karas
    Apr 5, 2013 at 20:06
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    @ppumkin- You better read some of my answers. I always offer advice, alternatives and I will tell a DIYer if they are barking up the wrong tree or need to seek a professional. Doing a job right is the first priority, regardless of what the questioner wants to hear. They don't have to take my advise, but i'm not gonna give them the answer they want, I give the answer that works. Apr 5, 2013 at 20:49
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    @ppumkin, I have to disagree with you here. Sometimes people don't ask the right question and we have to provide a different answer than what the OP was asking, but that doesn't mean we should bad advice just because someone asks the wrong question.
    – BMitch
    Apr 5, 2013 at 20:56

Look - I understand you need to do this quick and you know its wrong to put on vinyl. You came and asked a specific question and I though about it (out of the box) I got your answer. This is not the correct way as pointed out by your self and everybody else.. but you already knew that.

You might even get away with this for long term solution. You selling quick? moving out form rented place? Doesn't matter. You asked how to lay tiles on vinyl. I will tell you how!

If you going to be doing it the wrong way, you might as well do it a little bit right to make it last longer!

  • You had a good idea with taking the gloss off, don't take too much time sand papering it. Just scour it but don't penetrate it. You don't want water to get to the paper under it. You will get some kind of rot and bad smell.

  • You need to secure the vinyl so that movement wont cause cracks in grout and make the tile come loose.

  • It is not easy but what you can use is some kind of building mesh - very thin and it doesnt need to be wide. It can even be some kind of builders wire(the stiff stuff)

enter image description here

  • It will be quite expensive to lay the whole floor with this. So at least cut it into strips or get you local DIY store to do it for you. Run a strip 2cm-3cm length wise so each tile comes in contact with this.

  • Because you got concrete under there you will have to drill a few holes and attach the mesh and wire in certain areas with screws, tightly! so it doesn't pull away(upwards easily) sideways does not matter.

  • This isn't the best drawing but it illustrates what you gotta do. Black squares the tiles, orange is the mesh/wires, blue is like the screws/bolts fastening.

enter image description here

What is critical here the the mesh strip or wire does not pull upwards too easily. You will then lay mortar as usual and on top of this wire taking care that the mortar wraps around, sits inside the mesh nicely.

The mortar will still NOT stick to the vinyl but what you have created is a superficial surface that reinforces the mortar and will help the tiles disperse weight and stress over larger areas with out cracking. Because the mortar hardens it will keep the mesh from moving sideways that is why it must be fastened in a uniform way so it does not lift up. That is the key here.

NO This is not the the correct way to do it - you know that - If you finish it off nicely and let it set properly it should be OK.

Liberty is painfull....

  • I would think a layer of Hardi-backer or concrete board that shirlock suggested would work better than the mesh. It would make a level surface, and give the floor a lot more strength, and be a whole lot easier to put down, without needing to pull up the vinyl.
    – BMitch
    Apr 5, 2013 at 21:10
  • It will rasie the level allot though. I forgot to mention this method will also help to keep the level as low as possible and is still cheaper.
    – Piotr Kula
    Apr 5, 2013 at 21:11
  • So you're happy to help people screw their landlords or buyers? This doesn't have nearly enough downvotes.
    – Brad Mace
    Apr 11, 2013 at 22:19
  • The question was nothing to do with that. You putting to much emotion and thought into it. That's not the point of a Q&A. Go and watch the presentation of Stack Overflow by Joel Spolsky at Google Tech Talk He explains your condition - I am happy to give answers I find correct. I am not the guys spiritual advisor or morale keeper neither are you. I make sure all the houses I rent are tip top shape and people pay me top dollar for that. If a twat landland lord cant replace vinyl he deservers it. Don't put words in my mouth!!!!!!!
    – Piotr Kula
    Apr 12, 2013 at 10:51

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