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Old 10-21-2008, 08:43 PM   #1
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Tile Plywood Sub-Floor Help

I am putting slate tile down in our home. I need some advice on the demo and prep.

The house was built in '89 and is reasonably well constructed, but the flooring is horrible. So we're scraping off the 80's and putting down something a little more traditional.

The flooring area that I'm working on is the ENTRY, a small hallway to the dining area, the dining area and the kitchen. Currently there is T&G oak flooring in the entry and sheet vinyl everywhere else. I want to put down slate tile in all of these areas because we get a lot of water in the winter time. Here is a rough layout: Name:  BEFORE.jpg
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I started with the bathroom and pulled out the sheet vinyl. Here is what I've discovered. There is a layer of plywood between the vinyl and the subfloor which I'm assuming is only to "shim" the vinyl to be level with the wood flooring. Tile Plywood Sub-Floor Help-cross-section.jpg

Now my basic question is this:
  • Do I remove that layer of plywood from the kitchen, dining, bath and hallway before I put the tile down....OR do I just leave it there and go right over it and the T&G flooring in the entryway?
I wanted to use Ditra so if I leave the "extra" plywood down, it's extra stability and strength (not to mention a lot less demo)...but it builds the floor up quite a bit with the tile and Ditra. Probably 7/8"-1" total (morter + ditra + tile)

The other option is just to leave it all down, throw some 1/4" hardibacker down and tile directly to it...which saves me about 1/4" of buildup.

Any thoughts?


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Old 10-21-2008, 10:58 PM   #2
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First of all, be sure you want slate in all those areas. Slate will require a lot more maintenance, not to mention the extra work in installing it correctly. But it can be very nice if the slate is good quality and not that cheap "shale" available these days.

First step, you have to remove the hardwood flooring. Then decide if it's possible to remove the vinyl from the 5/8" underlayment. You have to remove it completely, if going with Ditra. Of course then install new 5/8" underlayment where the hardwood was. BUT WAIT.

Before you go any further. You need to determine if the subfloor system, mainly the joists, are stiff enough for natural stone. Natural stone requires a floor that is much stiffer than ceramic or porcelain tiles. It is rare that a home meets these requirements unless built with natural stone spec'd. Obviously yours wasn't.

Please tell me the type, size, species and grade, (if possible) of the joists. The spacing and measure the unsupported span of the joists. Measure this span from the face to face of the supports. All this is very important for a successful installation.



TILE GUY - retired- TROY, MI - Method & Product suitability consulting.

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