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Can You Tile on Wood?

Tiling on wood is tricky because, wood bends and expands when the moisture content of the different parts of wood changes unevenly, so if you have tile on it then you should expect them to crack or even pop out because of pressure from the dry parts that have shrunk.

However, this does not prevent you from tiling on wood, but you will have to first prepare the wood before tiling

So if you were wondering whether it is possible to tile on wood, the answer is yes, you can tile on wood via the simple process explained below.

Helpful tip: I’ve also got an article on how to tile on wallpaper here and how to tile on dry wall here.

How to tile on wood

You will first secure the plywood subfloors or hardwood to the joists, to achieve a firm base you will at least 2inch screws and thick sheets of plywood.

You will fasten the wood to the joists using the 2-inch screws and this is after every 3 inches then take the sheet of plywood and use it to cover the entire surface.

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You will then need to secure the plywood so it offers a sturdy and stable surface, using screws that measure at least 1 ¼ inches, so for every 6 inches you will secure the plywood to the wood floor.

You will then proceed to cover the plywood with a layer of cement board and ensure to secure the cement board with a thin layer of thinset mortar.

Ensure that the seams between each board have been covered and here you can use the cement board seam tape then firmly affix the cement board to the floor using 6 inches screws around the edges.

The next step is to install the tiles, and here you will first have to find the center point by measuring along each of the walls.

And by using a piece of chalk draw a line beginning from each of the center points to the one that is on the opposite side, the meeting point of these lines is the center point with which you can start the installation of the tiles.

After you have achieved the perfect layout pattern is when you will use mortar, then use thin-set to lay your tiles.

You will then proceed to grout the tiles but at least after 24hrs, this process turns out to be the messiest and you have to repeatedly clean your tiles after which you will give them a period of 24 hours before the room can be used.

Tips and tricks of laying tiles on wood

While tiles can be laid on wood, it would be an absolute waste installing it directly given that wood reacts differently to temperatures changes and will consequently damage your tiles if installed directly.

So here are some tips and tricks to get your tiles to stick to your wood flooring for the long haul.

Leave an expansion allowance

From the process above, we have used plywood, that is bound to expand, so if you don’t leave gaps the plywood will expand pressing against each other thus deform the wood. You will, therefore, leave a 1/16 inch gap on the joints during installation to give room for the plywood to expand and contract.

Space the board joints

Don’t encourage joints on top of each other; instead put the joints of the top layer away from the joints of the bottom layer.

Use both thinset and latex content

Thinset is what you will use to make the tile stick on wood, so when you incorporate the latex content it ensures bonding to the wood. The two are however not used separately, to which end you will mix the thinset with a latex additive.

Types of plywood to use

There are at least two types of plywood that are available, but you can only use one, which is the exterior grade or better plywood.

Veneer plywood is not a good option because there is every chance that it will loosen and unbond the veneer.

Remember that the veneer bond plywood is interior grade plywood that has incorporated a top and bottom layer of thin hardwood bonded to it.

With the above characteristic, the veneer bond plywood qualifies as an unstable base for tile installation.

The Screw depth

So we don’t want the movement of the joists to be transmitted to the top layer of the plywood meaning that the double layering will not be significant or effective.

So once you start screwing the top layer ensure that you don’t screw past the bottom layer of the plywood.

Tile installation on different surfaces

Now that we have established that tiles can be installed on a wooden surface, our curiosity is aroused on other possible surfaces that we can install tiles, and the first is tiles.

Yes, surprised, don’t be, because you can very well install tiles on existing tiles, you must, however, roughen the existing tile surface to achieve a better grip on the new tile that you will be installing.

One thing to keep in mind though is that the new tiled floor will be raised, so you might want to put some good thought on what will happen on the doors and cabinets as they might also need to be reworked.

Tiles can also be installed over concrete and if you will choose to take this path then be sure to first repair and cover all the cracks and holes that might be on the concrete.

For the small cracks, you can use the suspension products but if you are dealing with large cracks then you will have to remove the concrete section and pour a fresh concrete slab.

Tiles can also be installed over linoleum surfaces or vinyl, the process is a complicated one and you must, therefore, find a professional but if you can avoid it the better.

Also, if you’re wondering if you can tile over dry wall, check out my article here, or tiling on wallpaper here.

Tile installation

Whenever you want to install tiles it is never a wise idea to begin from the edges of the wall, you will instead measure an area away from the walls, where full squares can fit.

After the above is when you will take the measurements of the remaining space along the walls and then mark where the tiles need to be cut to cover the odd spaces and be sure to exclude the grout line.