DO IT YOURSELF
New Floor Tile Tactics
New Tools, Materials and Techniques for
this Traditional Flooring Material
place. Then, a roof tear-off tool
was used to rip up the top
vinyl/plywood layer. Sure enough,
the old vinyl was still tightly
adhered, leaving a good sub-base.
By Monte Burch
Anyway you put it, laying ceramic floor tile is work— physically, mentally, and in
closets and cut-up areas, challenging. New materials and tools,
however, can take out some of
This kitchen project involved a
house well over a hundred years
old, with a double layer of vinyl
flooring and several problems.
The original floor was solid, with
a solid-oak underlayment. Over
that was a yellow pine finished
floor. The pine flooring was well
worn. The owners began remodel-
ing about 40 years ago and laid
down a 1/4-inch plywood “sub-
floor” over the pine, then installed
vinyl flooring. Years later the old
vinyl floor needed replacing. The
old floor, however, was solidly
stuck in place and impossible to
easily remove. So, they simply
nailed down another 1/4-inch
plywood subfloor and installed
another layer of vinyl flooring.
To complicate matters, kitchen
cabinets were installed over the
Tile is traditionally installed over
an uncoupling layer or forgiving
shear interface, a supportive
underlayment. An uncoupling layer
allows the tiled surface to move
independently of, or be ‘uncoupled’
from, the subfloor to prevent
cracks in the tiles and grout.
For an uncoupling layer on this
project, we used Schluter-DITRA,
an innovative underlayment performing multiple functions.
Schluter-DITRA is a polyethylene
membrane with a grid structure
of square cavities, each cut back
in a dovetail configuration, and
an anchoring fleece laminated to
the underside. The product is
bonded to the substrate using
Laying floor tile is a common but
often daunting do-it-yourself job.
The right tools and materials can
remove a great deal of the hassle.