How to Install Tile over Linoleum

How to Install Tile over Linoleum

How to Install Tile over Linoleum

Feb 19, 2010

Linoleum tiles were once a popular floor covering, used widely in many homes. Often times these old tiles were made with asbestos, which makes their removal from a home hazardous. Other times, the tiles themselves are safe, but they are so well adhered to the substrate that pulling them up is often more effort than it’s worth.

In either of these cases, it is possible to install new tile directly on top of the old linoleum. Doing so can give a fresh new look to an old floor with ease.

Preparing for the New Tile Installation

Before attempting to install new tile over old linoleum, the first step is to examine the old tiles. Check for loose tiles, curling corners or edges or signs that the tiles could easily come up. For a proper installation of any new tile, from ceramic tile to vinyl, the old floor has to be securely adhered to the floor.

If the linoleum tiles are 9-inches or 13-inches in size, they most likely contain asbestos. If these tiles appear to be coming loose, or are curling at the edges, call a professional to handle their removal. Otherwise, the loose tiles should be pulled up before new tiles can be installed.

If the old linoleum tiles are securely adhered to the floor, the next step is to measure for clearance. Tiling on top of old tiles will mean increasing the floor’s thickness, so be sure to purchase new tiles thin enough to allow doors to open and shut, and make sure that thresholds will still have proper clearance, even with the new tile and a layer of adhesive.

Once the new tiles have been purchased and it’s time to install, clean the old linoleum thoroughly. Remove wax build up, grease, dust and other debris; the new tiles need to adhere securely to the old ones and any build up or debris will cause the tile job to fail.

Installing Tile Over Linoleum

How to Install Tile over Linoleum

Lay the new tiles onto the floor in a dry-layout before installing. The old tile should be completely covered, especially if the old tile contains asbestos, so a dry-layout is key. Lay the first tile in the center of the wall furthest from the door and then lay the next tiles equally out to each side. If needed, temporarily remove baseboard moldings to tile beneath them if the old linoleum reaches under them as well.

Cut the new tiles where required and return them to the dry-layout to be sure of the fit before beginning to install. Be sure to leave room for grout joints at this stage; the dry-layout should be a very close approximation of what the new floor will look like.

Install the new tiles in the same layout pre-determined by the dry-fit by spreading a small amount of thin set mortar at a time. Use the trowel to produce even, uniform ridges through the mortar and twist each tile into place firmly to be sure it is adhering well. After the first row is complete, pull up a tile and check to make sure that it is completely covered in thin set, and that the ridges have smoothed out slightly. This will ensure a good bond to the old tile.

Be sure to leave the new tiles down for a full 24-hours before walking on them to grout, and a second 24-hours after grouting before opening the room to foot traffic. The thin set should have plenty of time to cure to ensure a good bond with the old tile.

Tile over linoleum in basements, kitchens and bathrooms to bring a fresh, updated look to the home without the dust or hazardous waste involved with removal of the old linoleum. As long as both surfaces are thoroughly bonded, there is no reason why the new floor shouldn’t last just as long as the old.


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