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-   -   Thin set vs mesh porcelain floor tile over plywood subfloor and vinyl flooring (

Jerseygirl 02-16-2009 02:20 PM

Thin set vs mesh porcelain floor tile over plywood subfloor and vinyl flooring
I'm currently getting bids on installing porcelain tiles in my kitchen. The previous owner had laminate flooring installed over sheet vinyl flooring. So far I've gotten two prices for installation and two different views on how the tile should be installed. One installer said that with the new types of thin sets on the market, wire mesh is not needed and and the thin set and tiles can be installed over the existing vinyl flooring. The other installer recommends installing the tile over wire mesh. Both installers said that the vinyl flooring can stay. I'm confused as to which method to go with. I called the tile store in town and they said that specially manufactured thin set is now being used in place of wire mesh but that some contractors still prefer using the mesh but I don't know which method to use. Can anyone give me some information on thin set alone vs thin set and wire mesh?

angus242 02-16-2009 02:53 PM

Sounds like both installers are lacking a bit.
Did either check your subfloor system to see if it's strong/stiff enough for a tile installation?
Personally, I would never install over vinyl even though there may be a few rare circumstances to which it might be acceptable.

I would bid the job as:
Check joists for tile installation.
Add reinforcement if necessary.
Removing all existing flooring.
Check subfloor for proper materials and thickness.
Install new subflooring as necessary.
Recommend Ditra as a tile underlayment.
Use of 1/4" cement backer board will suffice for tile underlayment (if subfloor is up to spec).
This would all be a "thinset installation".

A mud bed is another option too.

I'd say, keep getting more bids. :yes:

detroitMi 02-16-2009 03:42 PM

Tile Marble Granite
You install tile over backerboards,hardibacker ,or over Mud , the mud requires wire mesh.Never install tile over vinyl.That's wrong,did you get those guys off Craig list or what?

JazMan 02-16-2009 09:21 PM

Those two guys are both hacks, both methods are a cheap way to install tiles. Both have a very high failure rate.

Tiling over vinyl depends on the vinyl staying stuck. I wouldn't trust that. There are many thinsets that do bond to vinyl well though, tempting but I don't recommend it.:no:

The thinset over lath method by coincidence is called a "Jersey-mud-job" It too is junk and has failed every test done by testing organizations. It doesn't mean it'll fail every time though, it may work fairly well 60-80% of the time if you don't get on your knees and look for hairline cracks in the grout.

I know there are good tile setters near you. Keep looking.


ccarlisle 02-17-2009 06:59 AM

I'll say that it is never a good installation when you install something hard and firm (like tiles+grout+thinset) over something comparatively soft and spongy like vinyl tiles+adhesive or linoleum. Think about long do you give it before it cracks? :huh:

Then again, we have no idea of what budget figure you may be working with, nor any idea of your own personal standards...cracking may not be an issue for you, but for professionals who give a guarantee, it is. :wink:

In the standards that we use, nowhere is vinyl tile described as a suitable substarte for tiling. Take it off.

Jerseygirl 02-18-2009 07:59 PM

Thank you very much for your expertise and advise. I've installed wall tiles but not floor tiles, that's a whole different animal and since I intend to live in this house for at least another 30 years or so I want to make sure the job is done correctly and lasts. The highest price isn't always the best job....I'm finding that out.

Jerseygirl 02-18-2009 08:03 PM

No, didn't go to Craig's list, they are companies recommended by a local tile distributor. If I have to get ten estimates on the job then that's what I'll do until I find someone qualified. I've installed wall tiles but floor tiles are not part of my expertise and I know that they have to be done correctly.

Jerseygirl 02-18-2009 08:09 PM

Thanks for your expertise and advise. I'm continuing to get estimates and will use what I'm being told at this site to get the best job at the best price. I've done plenty of wall tile but floors are a different animal and I have no experience with them.

ccarlisle 02-19-2009 06:11 AM

Rest assured, you're not alone...just yesterday I was in a customer's house where the 14' x 16' kitchen linoleum floor had been tiled over about 3 years ago and there was now evidence in 5 areas where the beige tile had cracked - right down the middle of the tile - as well as the neighbouring tiles and the grout. Poor lady is trying to sell her house and buyers keep either walking away, start finding other things wrong with the house - or just offer $15,000 (5%) less for the kitchen 'as is'. Shame, because to do it right (with a 10 year warranty) would have cost her maybe $1000 more than the $6,000 she already paid some clown.

And you're right, walls are a bit different than floors - but fortunately published standards exist for both. The standards (and we use the TTMAC reference book a lot) tell you how to do it right, what plywood to use, what trowel size, what membrane to put down - and IMO people who set tile must be not only aware of these references - but use them every day. After all, they protect the installer as well as the homeowner. :yes:

But a really good tile guy will do more than just pull out a book; most tiles must be installed on a 'suitable substrate' and the definition of just what is and what isn't a 'suitable substrate' take some time and calculations to find out. Good tile guys do deflection calculations before doing anything in order to establish the suitability of your subfloor to accept tiles that won't crack...I mean: that's the whole point isn't it? that won't crack. :yes:

In tiling - as in most things - you get what you pay for; you just don't see a bad job until later. Many will be swayed by cheap prices - but in then end they pay more unless they know enough to demand that standards be followed. A 'good' tile guy will investigate the flooring first, calculate, then pull out the references then write you up a quote stating those references - in that order.

Good luck!

Jerseygirl 02-19-2009 08:56 PM

Eureka!!!!! Had a company come in tonight for an estimate that said they would never put tile over vinyl flooring, that the laminate flooring and vinyl flooring both have to come up. He walked over the kitchen floor and couldn't find any soft spots and took off the edging between the dining room and kitchen floor and said that I have a 5/8" plywood subfloor and that he would use concrete backer board screwed down to the subfloor. thin set and then tile. If he felt that the floor wasn't sturdy enough with one application of backer board then he would add another in the opposite direction and screw that down as well. He also asked me what kind of cross support beams I have (they're steel). Haven't gotten a price yet but what he's saying seems to be more in line with everyone's advise. Now that I know what questions to ask and how the job should be done, I feel more comfortable and confident that I'll get a quality installation and be able to match apples with apples regarding installation and price. Can't thank everyone enough for your "most excellent" advise and information.

angus242 02-19-2009 09:22 PM


Originally Posted by Jerseygirl (Post 233234)
If he felt that the floor wasn't sturdy enough with one application of backer board then he would add another in the opposite direction and screw that down as well.

I don't want to burst your bubble but cement board adds NO structural support to the subfloor whatsoever. If you need additional support, another layer of exterior grade plywood needs to go down BEFORE the cement board, not more cement board :no:. That or the joists need to be addressed.
I know this may be frustrating but don't lose hope. The advice that you're getting here is the proper way a tile installation should go. Jaz and CC have pointed you in the right direction. Don't settle for anything less.

JazMan 02-19-2009 09:30 PM

Yea, that guy isn't doing it right either. :furious: Where are you finding these guys? :laughing:


detroitMi 02-19-2009 09:34 PM

Jerseygirl ,If I were you I would go for Mud,check out my profile you'll see some pictures of Mud,so you'll know what I am talking about (and you know what ? Show them these pictures and let them know what you want done to your house)

JazMan 02-19-2009 09:56 PM

Well......I wouldn't necessarily want a real mud job. It is one of the best ways to go as long as raising the floor 1.5 " isn't an issue, and if the setter knew what he was doing. Make the mud too thin and you can have problems down the road.

Anyway, if I had to tell or show the tile guy pictures on how it's done......I might conclude I had the wrong person?


detroitMi 02-19-2009 10:14 PM

So far she had the wrong ones seeing her job, they would install the tile in top of the vinyl, had she gone for that.You're right JazMan,kind of hard to find a real tile setter these days.

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