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Old 05-15-2008, 10:24 AM   #1
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Subfloor, YES OR NO?


I am currently remodeling my kitchen. I have multiple layers of linoleum then the original(bad) hard wood floor, and then another tongue and groove subfloor.

I will be tearing up the linoleum soon and leaving the two wood floors. What is recommended for the sub floor. I havent deceided wether to put a new hardwood floor down, or to tile. Is the two existing floors good enough as the sub floor? Or do I need to add a staggered plywood sub floor?

I dont think the existing hardwood is saveable. looks really bad, and has been chopped up in areas as renovations over the years have been done.

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Old 05-15-2008, 02:28 PM   #2
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Subfloor, YES OR NO?


You should remove the old hardwood and install 3/4" T&G floor sheathing directly to your floor joists to have a nice stable base for your new wood or tile floor. If you choose to go with tile, 1/2" wonderboard on top of the plywood floor is a must.

Layering flooring materials is just asking for instability in whatever product you put down.

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Old 05-15-2008, 09:48 PM   #3
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Subfloor, YES OR NO?


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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
You should remove the old hardwood and install 3/4" T&G floor sheathing directly to your floor joists to have a nice stable base for your new wood or tile floor. If you choose to go with tile, 1/2" wonderboard on top of the plywood floor is a must.

Layering flooring materials is just asking for instability in whatever product you put down.

I definetly agree on this one, layering makes a mess! I however wouldn't worry about ripping down to the joist IF the plywood base that is on the joists is solid. Definetly take up the old hardwood, and check out the condition of the subfloor. If it's actually chipboard under there, I'd be inclined to remove it and put in a 3/4 or 5/8 ply on the joists, then deal with additional 1/2 wonderboard (or mesh and cement base) this should probably leave you close to the existing level which I'm sure matches up to adjacent rooms in height, if you go the tile route.

If you go with another hardwood instead, consider the thickness of the new hardwood and what your finished height needs to be, you may or may not need an additional 1/4 ply to level up to the adjacent floor, maybe not. This would simply be for a height advantage, it is not required for putting wood down, the original 3/4 or 5/8 is fine.
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Old 05-15-2008, 10:10 PM   #4
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Subfloor, YES OR NO?


Dynamic,

Yours sounds like an older home and so I'm pretty sure your subfloor is plank flooring, not plywood as doc thought. Whatever the subfloor is I recommend you leave it unless it's in bad condition.

You should remove everything from there up however. Then you'll need to install an underlayment. This could be 1/2", 5/8" or 3/4" b/c underlayment grade plywood. Then you're ready for a tile backer or crack-isolation membrane such as Ditra. If you go with tile backer, there is no advantage in using 1/2", unless you need the extra height, 1/4" is made for floors.

Come back with questions about how to continue from that point.

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Old 05-15-2008, 11:34 PM   #5
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Subfloor, YES OR NO?


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Originally Posted by Dynamic View Post
I will be tearing up the linoleum soon and leaving the two wood floors. What is recommended for the sub floor. I havent deceided wether to put a new hardwood floor down, or to tile. Is the two existing floors good enough as the sub floor? Or do I need to add a staggered plywood sub floor?
Maybe I'm the only one reading it this way but are you asking about leaving BOTH wood floors and then adding plywood on top? I've read your post multiple times and it seems to me that is your plan. As everyone has already replied, you need to remove the hardwood, regardless. As for the existing subfloor, as has been mentioned, if it's pressed board, it's gotta go. If the budget allows, rip it up to the joists. Start with a 3/4" plywood and use some PL adhesive and screw it to the joists, leaving 1/8" spacing between the T&G for expansion and stagger your seams. You can add additional ply if you need to adjust the height to existing floors. At that point, it's up to you to what you'd like to use for new flooring. If you do more hardwood, use a 15lb roofing felt directly over the ply before you nail the hardwood. If you tile, I'd use Ditra directly over the ply. There is a specific way the Ditra needs to go down so BEFORE you attempt, read the directions and follow them precisely. Yes, Ditra costs more than 1/4" Hardi but you save more TIME with the Ditra, and I feel it's a superior product to CBU. CBU needs to be nailed or screwed down and CBU requires a bit more thinset, screws and non-alkaline tape for the seams. Ditra simply gets unrolled and cut to fit with a utility knife. It's an uncoupling membrane so it help isolate the tile from the subfloor from any subsequent movement. It also acts as vapor manager for any moisture that may come up from whatever is under the subfloor. This will allow the wood subfloor to breathe.
There is no correct material for your kitchen floor. I always recommend tile simply because the kitchen is the one room where you're most likely to drop heavy or sharp items and the possibility is greatest to damage the wood in that room. Yes, it can be repaired but a resand and stain job is not cheap. Tile is not indestructible but can be more durable and is not susceptible to water damage like wood can be. It's truly a toss up though....whatever material you want, go with it.
Regardless of what you choose, use a quality material. Dochorn has just left a very informative post about what makes a quality tile:
How to tell tile quality?
Hardwood is just as important. Plenty of sources out there to help you understand what makes a quality hardwood floor.

Good Luck
Angus

Last edited by angus242; 05-15-2008 at 11:37 PM.
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Old 05-16-2008, 07:02 AM   #6
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Subfloor, YES OR NO?


yes, I have an older home. Built in the 40's. My sub floor is tongue and groove, and on top of that is the beaten up hardwood floor.

I have no problem ripping up the hardwood floor, but would prefer to leave the tounge and groove sub floor.

I know that if I rip up all my hardwood flooring, I should put put down a subfloor. I've been leaning toward a tile foor seeing its the kitchen. Something like a 1sq foot tile.

What should I use for the sub floor at this point. 1/4, 1/2,5/8? construction grade plywood, harrdybacker, chipboard?
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Old 05-16-2008, 07:34 AM   #7
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Subfloor, YES OR NO?


Dynamic

If you go tile, and it's in budget I would look at putting down a larger tile than a 12" one. Tiles are getting larger and larger in style and a 12" is actually out of style at this point. I'd hate for you to do all the work and still have something that looked like it was done in the 80's! Natural stone is about the only thing still in 12" thats regularly used around our store. Most ceramic and porcelain sold are about 14" or 16" and even 20". Most will install these on a 45 degree angle and give a dressier look to the space as well as a diagonal install visually makes the room feel bigger as the floor grout joints aren't running the same way as the walls, so your eye doesn't travell across the floor a quickly and it tricks your eye to seeing that the room is bigger than it is.
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Old 05-16-2008, 07:54 AM   #8
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Subfloor, YES OR NO?


The T-G sub-floor most likely runs to the outter edge of the ring joist and has the exterior wall plates sitting on top of it, so I would certainly not cut it or try to remove it. Regardless of what you decide to do with the rest of it, run screws (#8x2-1/2 or #8x3) through the flooring into the joists to prevent any squeaks present or future. If it's built like most houses around here for that era, the T-G is run at a diagonal to the joists, then a layer of tar paper followed by the hardwood floor. There are plenty of places for squeaks to occur. Removing the hardwood and installing a layer of T-G plywood will certainly make a stronger job. Put some construction ahesive down before setting the sheets in place. I think you need to decide what material you plan to finish the floor with before you make a decision on demolition.
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:17 PM   #9
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Subfloor, YES OR NO?


MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY ! MATAINTANCE SIX
even if the sub floor was osb,plywood as previously stated it runs to the outside rim joist, which means most DIY,ers would cut the sub floor back to the next nearest outside joist, which means all the but joint would be on one joist NO GOOD you are imposing a greater load on that floor joist, Good point . I never liked wonder board or hardi board for a floor backer. I always use a mud base for my ceramic tile it levels out the floor and gives me a nice level and even floor for my base cabinets.
I walk into many homes where the kitchen is on the 2nd floor as you come up the stairs and your eye level with the floor it looks like a roller coaster. I haven't seen one job with that product that looks and feels as strong as a mud.
I know it creates an issue with floor heights But there are many ways to transition that to the lower floor marble, or I make my own oak tapered saddles. Just my opinion, just old school.
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:50 PM   #10
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Subfloor, YES OR NO?


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MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY ! MATAINTANCE SIX
even if the sub floor was osb,plywood as previously stated it runs to the outside rim joist, which means most DIY,ers would cut the sub floor back to the next nearest outside joist, which means all the but joint would be on one joist NO GOOD you are imposing a greater load on that floor joist, Good point . I never liked wonder board or hardi board for a floor backer. I always use a mud base for my ceramic tile it levels out the floor and gives me a nice level and even floor for my base cabinets.
I walk into many homes where the kitchen is on the 2nd floor as you come up the stairs and your eye level with the floor it looks like a roller coaster. I haven't seen one job with that product that looks and feels as strong as a mud.
I know it creates an issue with floor heights But there are many ways to transition that to the lower floor marble, or I make my own oak tapered saddles. Just my opinion, just old school.

We do old school too, always have always will. We've been doing it for 25 years now and it's so solid we give a non-transferable lifetime guarantee on any job that we do we trust it that much. We do upwards of 20 jobs in any given week and it's never come back to haunt us. It's one of those 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' methods.
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Old 05-17-2008, 12:26 AM   #11
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Subfloor, YES OR NO?


I would never argue that a mud job isn't a great way to go. However, what most people don't understand is a deflection rating. Your tile job can only be as strong as the joists and subfloor are. A mud job is your best way to avoid a tile failure under most conditions. However, even with a proper mud deck, you can still have problems if the deflection rating isn't inline.
Apples to apples, a mud bed is your best way to go, overall (cost and time a non-factor)
I recently was talking to a fellow contractor when he mentioned he was bidding on a job to remove 12x12 ceramic and install 24x24 marble over 24" OC with 3/4" T&G only. I'm sorry, not even a 1 1/4" mud bed is gonna stop that floor from moving. Yes, builders get away with it but it's the home owner that gets screwed when trying to upgrade later. The biggest failures I see have little to do with materials used, it's mainly the disregard for deflection. Well, that and improperly mixed thinset (or wrong kind used for the application....cough, cough....mastic, cough). In my area with the newer homes that people are now remodeling, the typical deflection rating is in the L/580 neighborhood. People don't understand that you just can't go dropping stone over that and expect it to last.
Older homes are built differently than newer homes. Unless you're looking at the subfloor, it's hard to say exactly what to do. Maintenance 6, buletbob and dochorn all make very valid points. I've seen OSB over diagonal plank. I've seen ply over sleepers over plank with the electrical run through the sleepers. I always try to go down to the lowest material I can and replace from there up. A mud deck is your best way to ensure a solid tile job. But this is a DIY forum and I would say a mud job is on the harder end of the scale. I don't do mud jobs. I would say a tile installer that does mud jobs is a diamond in the rough. I live in the Chicago area and while I'm sure they're out there, I don't know a single company that does them. If the deflection rating is adequate, I'd guarantee one of my membrane jobs the same as a mud job. That's just my way. I'm not knocking old school. If anyone's ever tried to remove a 1 1/4" mud deck, you'd understand how solid of an install it is.
Since you asked, I would add at least 5/8" ply (more as floor height requires), then Ditra, then your tile. If it's ceramic, chances are pretty good your joists will handle it. Ditra is a vapor manager so it will allow your subfloor to breathe from any moisture that rises from below. It's an uncoupling membrane so it neutralizes stress from horizontal movement that can lead to delamination (cracked tiles or crumbing grout). With a few extra steps, you can even have a waterproof installation! All of that plus I can install Ditra about 2-3 X's faster than traditional cement board. That's just me.

Last edited by angus242; 05-17-2008 at 12:30 AM.
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Old 05-17-2008, 09:00 AM   #12
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Subfloor, YES OR NO?


Angus

The cost has to be in budget though to do Ditra, it's about $2.15 per s/f here plus you need two kinds of mortar and you can do a Mesh and Cement base for about .60 cents a s/f and and need just the mortar to set the tiles, over a decent sized job that adds up quick.

A floor should always have extra screws thrown it in before going ahead with any tile job to help stop any movement/squeaks, and once you have the weight of the mesh and cement down, that floor isn't going or bouncing anywhere. Sure there are cases where the floor joists are too skimpy to be putting this weight on and needs to be cross braced etc., but if built to proper codes, this should not be an issue.

Every single one of our guys do Mesh and Cement bases, we have about 20-25 employees and another 10-15 subcontractors all which do mesh and cement. They have to or we wouldn't hire them as that's all we do. I will say most of our guys are Italian, Romanian or Arab though, and first or second generation immigrants so that may be why we have such great success as that's probably how they were taught to do tiling, in the countries where tiling is EVERYWHERE and most men probably know something about it. These guys are craftsmen at a trade that alot of people wouldn't tackle. We always say tiling is an art, and until you've tried to do it yourself, most never understand that.
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Old 05-17-2008, 09:59 AM   #13
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dochorn, there's that dang overcharged to Canada thing. I get Ditra for about $1.11 sq/ft. (if I buy the 350 roll). Definitely in the ballpark and with the added time saved, that's why I think it's worth it. I've already mentioned to you what I use for thinset, so I only need 1 kind of dry thinset. When I tile, I'm a one-man show. This is a very efficient way for me to do a quality job.

The house I mentioned with the marble tile and 24" O.C. WAS to code. It was a newly built house. That's why I said the home owner is the one getting screwed. A person that's buying a new house most likely isn't going to ask what kind of joists are being used. They are trusting the builder to supply a quality product. Let's all just be happy...I recently heard this builder went out of business. Their motto was more home for less money. More square feet? Yes. Quality? No.

I still say, a mud job is high quality. No arguing that. My point was to the deflection ratings. You can pass structural code but still not have a strong enough subfloor for certain kinds of tile. Most DIYers are not aware of this.

You are one of the lucky ones. A store that can offer that service with multiple tile installers is a find. I feel there is a different way to go, that under similar circumstances, can offer just as good of quality. And since we're on a DIY site, I would feel safe in saying, for a home owner with not a lot of tiling experience, a membrane system is probably an easier way to go. Like you said, and I totally agree, tiling IS an art. A membrane system is just a different (and newer) method. I have talked to many veteran tile guys that have been using a membrane system for about a decade now. I feel pretty safe that they're not some new gimmicky fad.

Angus
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Old 05-17-2008, 12:16 PM   #14
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Is Ditra that old now? At first we could get no long term feedback on how it holds up over the years because it was so new there was nothing to judge it on. Time sure flies!! I can't believe (well, I guess I have to, but it's nuts) that you can buy it retail for LESS than what we have to pay for it wholesale! No wonder it can't compete up here for pricing! I suppose for the DIYer at that CLOSE of a price it's worth saving the time for sure, it just doesn't come in as cost effective up here.
That's a shame about those people, a new build should never have issues like that. You can never be too careful when buying something I guess, research research research!
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Old 05-18-2008, 10:58 AM   #15
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Subfloor, YES OR NO?


Hello all...

I have lifted all 3 layers of linoleum off my floor, and Im down to the hardwood floor.(and the nasty black tar they installed the linoleum with)The joists run from left and right to the center of the house and rest on the main beam. So if yo are standing in front of the house, the joists run horizontal. The subfloor runs vertical over the joists. And the hardwood floor runs horizontal again. At this point im leaning toward tile. So I should tear up my existing (garbage) hardwood floor? And lay down What exactlly for a sub floor???

My house was built in the 20's(wife corrected me on that last night) and with that in mind I have 2X6 joists.

From what im reading ditra is a plastic type membrane? How is this installed over the subfloor??? Nailed, stapled, floating? And what do I need to use for tile adheasive?

I have seen things in the local HOME DEPOT, LOWES that have a raised checker board plastic thing that is susposed to be good for tile work?

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