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Old 12-30-2010, 11:46 AM   #1
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Removing Tile Over Hardwood: Need Help With Kitchen/Bath

I recently bought a house where the previous owner installed tile over the original oak hardwood floors (no idea what he was thinking). I'm tearing up the tile and restoring the wood floors, but am stuck on the kitchen and bathroom.

It looks like the kitchen and bathroom were redone after the tile was installed, so the kitchen cabinets are set on the tile and the bathtub is tiled and grouted to this height. I have some questions on how to go about taking care of this:

1. In the near term, I plan on leaving the tile in the kitchen and bath, but there's about a 3/4" gap between the tile and wood. How do I do a transition between the different floor heights?

2. In the future, I want to tear up the tile in those rooms. I don't think I'll be able to pull out the kitchen cabinets and countertops, remove the tile under them, and drop everything down 3/4" to the wood floor height. How can I leave the cabinets on the tile and cover up the gap between the wood and the tile under the cabinets? What do I do about the bathtub?

Thanks in advance!


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Old 01-31-2011, 09:36 PM   #2
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Great questions!

I am in the exact same boat, and wasn't able to find anything on this topic until I came upon your post. We have a 1924 Italian villa-style home with gorgeous oak hardwood floors. In the kitchen in the 80s or 90s, someone got the terrible idea to put down purple ceramic tile over the hardwood, then put cabinets, baseboard trip, thresholds, etc, on top of that. I too would like to go back to the original hardwood, but am concerned that this will not be an easy job without also replacing the cabinets (or at least the baseboards) and possibly even the hardwood floors themselves (as they may have put thousands of nails into them to secure the tile). Have you had any further thoughts on your project? Thanks!


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Old 02-01-2011, 12:26 AM   #3
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I've spoken to some other people who've been in the same situation. In the kitchen, they removed the tile and cut the tile/backing board right up to the cabinets (right angle tile cutting tool like a Dremel or Rotozip). They then added molding to the entire kitchen including the cabinets to cover up the gap in height. They also mentioned that they had some very badly stained, warped, and damaged wood floors that were able to be beautifully repaired without fully replacing them.

After talking to them, I'm much less apprehensive about ripping up the tile right now instead of waiting. I've torn up the tile in one room and the wood looks okay, though it needs to be cleaned, patched where the backing board was screwed down, and coated with polyurethane. Eventually I'll have them professionally refinished.

Good luck!
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Old 02-01-2011, 06:03 AM   #4
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Putting molding up is the best way to go. But, instead of molding under the cabinets you can buy new toe kicks (the board under the front of cabinet). Just put them on top of the old ones. Or, if you prefer you can get a 1 x 4 of oak, cut it down and stain it to match your floor. You will have to get molding at least 1" tall to cove the gap around the edges.
Also, if your going to put polyurethane on the old floor you will have to abaid (sand) the floor first to give the new poly something to stick to. If you don't do this the poly will most likely flack off. You can rent the sanders at and rental store. They are big, so before turning it on put it in the center of the room to get use to how it works. Use 120 grit SCREENS to do this.
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