We are remodeling our kitchen in our older pier & beam house. We were looking at tile today and they said we would need to remove the existing linoleum, then put some type of cement board over the existing plywood sub-floor, then lay the tile.

Does anyone have any experience with tile in pier & beam?


I have a pier-and-beam house, and the instructions are pretty much correct.

Tile will crack eventually when placed over pier-and-beam because of two related issues:

  1. Floor joists often aren't on 12- or 16-inch centers, so they allow too much "give" when you step on the floor between the joists.

  2. The piers are settling independently of one another based on soil conditions, and even fractional-inch movement is enough to crack grout lines over time.

So, if you really want tile, I would suggest removing the existing linoleum, then do the following:

  1. Ensure that the subfloor is as level as possible before you begini. This is a lot better than to discover later that you need to shim your subfloor, use self-leveling compound, etc. for the tile to lay flat.
  2. Lay a first layer of 3/4" plywood (or leave the one you have if it is in good condition and screwed down well).
  3. Install a second layer of either 3/4" plywood or cement board going the other direction, so any movement at the first-layer joints is distributed across the second layer. Be sure to use long wood screws that go through both layers and back into the joists.
  4. Install a decoupling membrane such as DITRA over the subfloor.
  5. Install the tile.
  • The more I think about it, the more the potential movement makes me nervous about just having to constantly deal with cracks in the grout. I may need to rethink my options. Mar 9 '11 at 23:02
  • 1
    Between this answer and other posts on other forums, I think I've seen enough to know that this type of approach is the correct approach. However, I've also now read enough to understand that tile in my scenario is probably not the best option. I would probably have to do a lot of reinforcement and even then with the type of activity it may encounter (active kids running through, horsing around, etc.), it would be at high risk. Mar 10 '11 at 12:49

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