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Old 04-08-2011, 09:37 AM   #1
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Preparation for installing ceramic tile


Kitchen is gutted. Just removed 6 layers of linoleum of one ilk or another. Earliest layer was adhered to a black gooey substances of some sort. There appears to be a plywood sub floor that may be @5/8 to 3/4" thick. What combination would make the most sense. 1. 3/8" plywood then tile? 1a. Add Ditra over 3/8" plywood then install tile? 2. 1/2" BC then tile? 2b. Add Ditra over 1/2" BC?

Plywood that is down is pretty level. Just have all of the black gunk on it. I'm trying to avoid raising the elevation of the floor too much if possible. Thanks for the help to this question.

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Old 04-08-2011, 09:43 AM   #2
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Preparation for installing ceramic tile


My advice would be to lay 1/4" backer board on top of sub floor. You will then be ready to tile

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Old 04-08-2011, 10:00 AM   #3
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My advice would be to lay 1/4" backer board on top of sub floor. You will then be ready to tile
I consider it. I despise working with that stuff, however. I use it mainly in shower stalls/tub enclosures and above countertops. Was searching for an alternative method - that's actually why, I didn't mention backer board in my original post.
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Old 04-08-2011, 10:55 AM   #4
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My advice would be to lay 1/4" backer board on top of sub floor. You will then be ready to tile
Would I need to apply a thinset mortar to the underside of the backerboard before screwing it down. Or, could I use liquid nail?
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Old 04-08-2011, 12:27 PM   #5
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Preparation for installing ceramic tile


If your subfloor is only 5/8" I would not consider it a good enough subfloor to which I'd install backer board or Ditra onto. You need to tell us how thick that ply is, and its condition. Also see if it's t&g, is the underside open?

The more plywood the better, so why not install 1/2" B/C and then Ditra? That will give you a good base as long as the joists are stiff enough. On paper though 3/8" ply should be OK with Ditra or concrete backer over it.

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Would I need to apply a thinset mortar to the underside of the backerboard before screwing it down.
Absolutely, all tile backers require thin set mortar fully spread under it, fastened and seams taped.
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Plywood that is down is pretty level.
Tile doesn't care about level, just flat.

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Old 04-08-2011, 10:10 PM   #6
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If your subfloor is only 5/8" I would not consider it a good enough subfloor to which I'd install backer board or Ditra onto. You need to tell us how thick that ply is, and its condition. Also see if it's t&g, is the underside open?

The more plywood the better, so why not install 1/2" B/C and then Ditra? That will give you a good base as long as the joists are stiff enough. On paper though 3/8" ply should be OK with Ditra or concrete backer over it.
Why not indeed.. I'm astonished even that I came across plywood. I was forced to use a roofing shingle shovel in order to remove all of the layers of linoleum. It was not fun. I believe that the substrate - plywood, is 3/4". In the past year, I have been purchasing more and more of my lumber supplies from a local lumber company. The quality and price generally exceed what can be found at a box store. Today, I purchased some really good quality Luan plywood 1/2", which I will lay down over the 3/4". The nice thing about this plywood is that it has no voids and seems in every way to be be superior to a BC grade. The salesman gave me a price that was difficult to refuse. I'm planning on screwing the sheets in the same direction as the older plywood - perpendicular to the joists. Won't glue. Then, I'll put down the Ditra. Hope this sounds like a reasonable plan.

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Tile doesn't care about level, just flat.
That's why I like this Luan plywood even more!
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Old 04-09-2011, 05:49 AM   #7
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I would not use luan ply--I have never seen one with exterior glue----B/C is the standard.
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:14 AM   #8
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I would not use luan ply--I have never seen one with exterior glue----B/C is the standard.
Are you implying that if/when I apply the modified thinset to the Luan when installing the Ditra that the Luan could separate?
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:46 AM   #9
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The problem with luan plywood is that it is very moisture sensitive, unlike exposure rated plywood. Even with ditra, there is the potential for spilled water leaking into the substrate, which is not a problem with exposure rated plywood, but definitely would be for luan. If you do a perfect job with the ditra, the water will not get through, but as I say, perfection is hard to achieve.
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:59 AM   #10
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What is the level of the adjoining floors?
Measure the difference and see what thickness you need to allow you to transition nicely from one room to another.

I was talking to the tile folks yesterday and explained I have 1-1/8 subfloor from 2 layers of plywood.
I asked about what underlay for the tile.
He said plywood is fine as long as it is fastened properly.

Point is... see if you can get 1-1/8" subfloor + tile thickness to match the adjoining floors.

Just my 2
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Old 04-09-2011, 08:02 AM   #11
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The problem with luan plywood is that it is very moisture sensitive, unlike exposure rated plywood. Even with ditra, there is the potential for spilled water leaking into the substrate, which is not a problem with exposure rated plywood, but definitely would be for luan. If you do a perfect job with the ditra, the water will not get through, but as I say, perfection is hard to achieve.
Hats off to you and Oh' Mike. Better to error on the side of caution. I'll take the Luan back although, I would think that the risk is negligible that moisture would penetrate tile-grout/unmodified thinset/Ditra-modified thinset. I seem to recall in the several times that I layed down Ditra that there was a decent squeeze out of modified thinset between the sections that abut each other...I was assuming that the real concern was with the application of the modified thinset over the Luan - where the wetness would break down the lamination. But, why chance a catastrophic failure, which I suppose is a possibility. Thanks all.
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Old 04-10-2011, 06:36 AM   #12
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Luan is a resinous wood----very often paint--varnish--glue--and thinset will not bond to it.

The best use for luan is to protect your finished floors while moving the appliances back into place.
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Old 04-10-2011, 06:42 AM   #13
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My local lumber supplier is closed on Saturday - is it no wonder that the box stores are putting them all out of business? So, I'll have to wait until Monday in order to return the 9 sheets of Luan. Went ahead and purchased 5 sheets of 1/2" BC at Lowes for @ $20.40 a sheet. Screwed them down over the existing 3/4" in same direction - perpendicular to the floor joists. Did not glue. But I did screw to the joist. It didn't feel as if the screws were pulling the BC down onto the older plywood unless I went into a joist. I think once I apply the Ditra membrane it will all work out okay.
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Old 04-10-2011, 07:09 AM   #14
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Sounds good-----Best of luck--9 sheets is a big job-----do run a 6 foot straight edge over the ply and look for low (or high) spots.----Mike---
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Old 04-10-2011, 07:15 AM   #15
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Sounds good-----Best of luck--9 sheets is a big job-----do run a 6 foot straight edge over the ply and look for low (or high) spots.----Mike---
Need to visit Harbor Freight for a 6 foot level. Been wanting one for years..
One good sign that the floor is flat is that when I ran a small level across the threshold of two adjoining sheets, there was no interruption. Still, that's yet another thing I like about using the Ditra.

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