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I have 16"by 16" porcelain tile. Will be pulling up carpet and vinyl tile and replacing with the porcelain. This is an upper level floor in a split level home, so I imagine the subfloor is plenty strong as it is floor level for dining, kitchen and bedroom level of home and therefore ceiling for the lower levels. Have lived in home for 8+yrs and have not had any issues we are aware of.

So, what are my prep options for the subfloor? There is a bag of compound/thinset at the home improvement store that says good for plywood subfloors.

Thanks
 

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Porcelain tile is quite fragile and even more so in the large size that you are talking about. Unless you know for sure how the floor is constructed in that area I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable laying the porcelain tile directly on plywood using just thinset mortar. Just because the bag the mortar comes and says that it's designed for laying directly on plywood floors the floors themselves have to be rigid enough to prevent flexing.
 

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Just because your floor is "strong" for the kitchen doesn't mean the deflection will be low enough for large porcelain tile. I wouldn't even consider laying large porcelain directly onto plywood. Too risky.

First, do some research on deflection and see if the floor is stiff enough. Report back on the current thickness of the plywood. You're going to want 1 1/4 - 1 1/2" total thickness. Then, I would use Ditra as an underlayment. It's very easy to work with, even for a DIY homeowner.
 

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As Jeff said, you need to know exactly what you have and what you need for a proper tiling base for your tile. You need to know:
1. Size (2x8,2x10, etc.)of the wood joists, wood species and open span of the joists
The answer to the specie should be stamped on the joists. The basement would be the place to look. Or the attic.
2. Type and thickness of the plywood.
 
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