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Old 01-24-2011, 11:02 AM   #1
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Bathroom Subfloor options?


Good day all - started a project last night which, as seems to be the case with just about everything, is growing exponentially. The idea was to remove the bathroom vanity and install a new one, which should have been relatively easy even for a novice like myself.

However, there was no tile UNDER the vanity, and it's pretty old stuff (and according to the wife, ugly), so I decided to remove and replace with something else.

I've already removed about 90% of the tile, but am not sure what I need to do next. My understanding was that I could put thinset mortar over the plywood subfloor, then lay the tile. But as I'm reading more and more, I'm seeing that it may be necessary to put down some kind of backer board for stability and a better gripping surface for the mortar.

Is that generally the proper procedure? The plywood is in decent shape... I was going to drop a few screws in each plank before proceeding, but is the backer board needed? If so, I'm sure there are many kinds - any recommendations (something I can get at one of the standard hardware places like Home Depot or Lowes)?

Thanks for any input / guidance!

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Old 01-24-2011, 11:56 AM   #2
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Bathroom Subfloor options?


Shore up the subfloor (make sure it's at least 3/4" plywood, and that the joist structure is adequate to prevent deflection*, nail or screw down any squeaky spots)

Install backerboard (with thinset and screws made specially for backerboard, with 1/8" gap between sheets, 1/4" walls [check those numbers], fiberglass tape and thinset the seams). DON'T put ceramic tile directly on wood subfloor.

Install tile.

HD and Lowe's carry a number of brands of backerboard. Different people prefer different brands. Do make sure you get the right kind of screws and tape to go with whatever brand you buy.

Good luck!

* Re. deflection: The John Bridge Tile forum (google it) has a handy Deflect-o-meter tool to help you determine whether your joist structure is adequate to support ceramic tile.

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Old 01-24-2011, 12:03 PM   #3
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Bathroom Subfloor options?


RDS - thanks... sounds manageable, especially for a small bathroom. There was tile down before, and it wasn't coming up or anything, so I'm hopefull that it'll be fine. Seems odd though, that the previous installation (at least 15 years old) was still in such great shape but the tile was directly on the plywood. I'd like to do it the right way though. Thanks for the input!

BTW, I see you're in north Jersey - I'm just outside of Princeton myself!

Have a great day, and thanks again for your time and advice.
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Old 01-24-2011, 12:28 PM   #4
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Bathroom Subfloor options?


No prob. Someone else may weigh in, likely more experienced than me -- I'm a relative newbie at this but have researched things pretty thoroughly. I've read that a super-experienced installer can sometimes lay tile directly on plywood and make it last, but that it is strongly not recommended, particularly for a DIYer. Good luck. I'll shortly start a tiling project myself. For what it's worth, I'll be using Durock as backerboard because that's what I used last time and it worked well. HD sells 1/2" and 1/4".
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