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The Pros & Cons of Laying Vinyl Over Tile

Considering laying vinyl plank over tile? Find out everything you should know about using vinyl planking and whether you should put it over your tile.

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Installing new flooring is a significant undertaking, even if you’re only redoing one room. Depending on the existing flooring and the flooring you choose, the cost and time to install it can quickly add up. 

Thankfully, there are options. If you haven’t already shopped for vinyl plank (aka luxury vinyl plank or luxury vinyl tile), we’ve got the information you need to consider whether or not it would be a good fit for your space. In addition to being incredibly durable and cost-effective, LVP (luxury vinyl plank) and LVT (luxury vinyl tile) can be floated over some existing flooring types.

Let’s get into the process, what you should expect, and walk through a list of the pros and cons associated with laying vinyl over existing tile flooring. 

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What Is a Floating Floor?

The minute you begin visualizing vinyl planking, you’ll run across the term floated floor. Floated flooring simply means the flooring you install isn’t glued to the existing flooring or subfloor beneath it. 

A subfloor is part of the construction of your home, usually made from two-by-four wood planks. It gives your flooring a base and protects the underlying joists that give it its structure. Most flooring (like carpet, tile, and some hardwood) is glued to the subfloor, but a floating floor simply lays on top of it. Simple enough, right?

Floating floors use a tongue and groove locking technique to snap into place when they’re laid on your subfloors. Proper installation is key to avoiding gaps between planks and stopping moisture from getting onto the subfloors.

Understanding How Vinyl Planking Works

Is the price tag of hardwood floors taking away from the budget you’d rather devote to gorgeous arched windows? No stress: Meet luxury vinyl planks. Unlike the rolled vinyl flooring you might be thinking of, vinyl planks look, feel, and install similar to hardwood but for a fraction of the price. 

Vinyl planks and tiles are made from four layers of material that are manufactured together. 

  1. Wear layer. The wear layer of vinyl flooring is clear and protective. It coats the top of the plank and prevents scuffs, scratches, dents, and even UV damage if your planks have UV protection. 
  1. Print layer. All vinyl flooring features a print layer. The print layer is a printed sheet that resembles hardwood, tile, or another pattern. Some vinyl planks are printed from photographs of hardwood and even embossed; it can be practically impossible to tell that the flooring isn’t real wood. 
  1. Core. The core layer gives vinyl planking its structure and feel. Rigid core is the most popular and features a core made with a combination of either wood and plastic or stone and plastic. 
  1. Underlayment. The underlayment is a feature of high-quality vinyl planks that gives you added protection. Underlayment can help protect your subfloors from moisture and also adds a little extra soundproofing. 

Generally, vinyl planking is less expensive than hardwood and some types of tile but provides a chic-looking floor that is durable, water resistant, and suitable for any room in the home. 

Why Not Just Remove the Tile?

Tile is a popular flooring option, especially for homes in the southern states. It helps keep your home cool and is relatively inexpensive. However, if you don’t love your tile and have looked into replacing it, you might have been surprised at just how extensive the removal process is. 

Tile removal requires tools (including a jackhammer and someone who knows how to safely use it) and time. Tile is glued down to your subfloor, and it’s important that when you remove it, you don’t damage your subfloor. It can be tricky not to create damage because it’s often hard to see where the glue for the tile ends and the subfloor begins. 

It’s also a tedious process. First, you’ll need to remove the grout. Next, you’ll need to remove the tiles themselves, which requires a rubber hammer and pick or a jackhammer. Then, you’ll remove the mortar (the glue) that held the tile to the subfloor. After this is complete, you’d sand the subfloor to prepare it for new flooring. 

During the mortar removal, there will be an extensive amount of dust, especially if you’re removing tile in a large area. You’ll need extraction fans, masks, and covers for your furniture. You’ll also need to plan to spend a few nights away from home if it’s a large job. All that being said, it’s not impossible to accomplish as a DIY project. It all depends on how comfortable you feel with the task at hand, and if we’re being real, how much patience you’re willing to have for a project like this.

What About a Professional?

If that process sounds like one giant headache (and backache), opt in to having the tile professionally removed. According to a Forbes estimate, professional tile removal averages $2 to $6 per square foot. If you have 3,000 square feet of tile, you can expect to pay roughly $18,000 at the high end to have your existing tile removed. 

Why Not Keep the Tile?

The cost of tile removal is eye-opening and maybe enough to make you rethink whether you really dislike your existing tile. Many homeowners dislike tile because it requires frequent maintenance to preserve its beauty. 

Grout, in particular, can be especially problematic. If grout isn’t sealed, it’s subject to dirt and moisture that can destroy it. If you get mold or stains on the grout, they can be almost impossible to remove. 

Tile also breaks, and repairing a single tile requires the same process described above. It might be that these concerns are the very ones that led you to this blog article and to question whether or not laying vinyl plank over your existing tile is a good idea or not.

Pros of Vinyl Over Tile

Maybe you want to cover ceramic tile, porcelain tile, or an unidentified tile that just has dirty grout lines and is no longer aesthetically amazing. In that case, the ability to lay vinyl flooring on top of it can save you time and money. 

Here’s our list of reasons why you should consider laying low-maintenance vinyl plank over your old flooring tile. 

1. It’s Low Maintenance 

One of the perks of vinyl plank flooring is its ease of care. It’s easy to clean, resists scratches, scuffs, and dents, and (unlike tile) doesn’t require grout maintenance. If a plank is ever damaged, it’s easier to replace it than it is to replace a tile. 

2. It Doesn’t Require Tile Removal

You may have considered wood-look tile to replace your current tile flooring, but unfortunately, you can’t lay tile on top of more tile. (That would lead to a big mess!) Additionally, some hardwood floors can’t be floated over existing tiles and maintain their integrity. 

The good news: Vinyl can. Vinyl can be overlaid on your tile and maintain a solid, firm flooring underneath your feet. 

3. It Will Save You Money

The monetary savings are really a no-brainer once you learn the cost of tile removal. Installing vinyl over tile eliminates the need to pay for pricey tile removal. It will also save you from the mess and dust associated with pulling up and busting apart tile and grout with a utility knife or jackhammer. Less cleaning? Yes, please!

4. It’s Quick

Removing tile is a long process and requires clean-up and heavy prep work. Installing your vinyl tile flooring or luxury vinyl planks over your tile is faster. Plus, it’s a much less invasive installation process. 

You’ll still need to prep your existing tile flooring, and if you have particularly deep or problematic grout lines, you may need to apply patching material to ensure your new flooring sits smoothly on the tiles. 

5. You Can Easily Remove It

There are two different types of vinyl flooring: glue-down and floating. If you choose floating vinyl floors, you can remove them more easily if you decide to change to something different later. For the continually design-inspired, this may be the perfect solution if you often feel locked into one look. 

Cons of Vinyl Over Tile

Laying vinyl over your tile seems like the perfect home improvement solution, especially if you love wood flooring but don’t want to pay for it and don’t want to go through the process of tile removal. However, there are some obstacles to consider if you’d like to lay luxury vinyl flooring over your tile.

1. Your Baseboards Will Be Shorter

Choosing to lay new flooring over existing flooring means your floor height will be higher than it was. Most of the time, this isn’t an issue, as you’re literally talking millimeters of height and not inches. However, if you have baseboards that are only three inches to begin with, you may not want to sacrifice any of that space.

2. Improper Installation Is Problematic

It’s entirely possible to make this a DIY project, but be prepared. Improper flooring installation can create dips, gaps, and bubbles that feel springy underfoot. Redoing that portion of flooring may require the removal of the existing planks. 

If you’re concerned about installation, hire a professional who guarantees their work so you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re doing it correctly. 

3. It Feels Different Underfoot

When you float your flooring over existing flooring, it feels slightly springier than it does when the new flooring is applied directly to the substrate. It may also produce a more hollow sound, which may be an issue if you install vinyl over tile in high-traffic areas. 

Most of the time, if the existing tile is properly prepared and the vinyl is installed properly, you won’t notice a difference, but it’s something to consider nonetheless. 

4. You May Need Transition Strips

Most homes have a combination of tile and carpet. If you plan to place your new flooring over the existing tile, account for the height difference between a room that now has vinyl over the tile and a room that has carpet laid directly on the subfloor. 

The solution is placing a transition strip between the two rooms. Transition strips are low profile and likely already located between your carpeted and tiled rooms. However, once you add vinyl to your tile, the transition strip will naturally sit slightly higher.

5. You Will Probably Destroy Your Existing Tiles

It’s important to realize that if you choose to place vinyl plank over existing tiles, you probably won’t be able to salvage those tiles at a later time. Most vinyl over plank installation will require some type of leveling compound (concrete) to account for grout lines and any variations between tile heights. 

Once you pour concrete over your tiles, it would be challenging to salvage them. Not to mention, you’d have to completely redo the grout work between the tiles. TLDR: If you lay new flooring on top of your tiles, it’s a safe bet that the tiles aren’t going to be usable. Assuming you are so sick of your tile to begin with, this shouldn’t be a problem for you.

To Float or Not To Float

Deciding on new flooring was the first big decision. Now, you’ve got even more choices to make. If you’re looking for a quick, cost-effective way to get low-maintenance flooring and update your old tile, laying luxury vinyl planking over your existing tile floors just makes sense. 

If you have time and the budget, you might like the notion of removing the old tile and installing new flooring better. If you ever decide to change your flooring, the work of tile removal would already be done, which means that installing new floors would be that much easier. Your decision depends on how you foresee yourself using your home over time.

Get Inspired

Feeling inspired to start your next flooring project? Give new life to old tile floors and use Spoak to help you visualize your home design dreams. 


These 5 Cheap Flooring Options Will Look Awesome And Save You Money | Forbes

The Floor Trends That Will Take Over In 2023 | House Digest 

5 Flooring Trends Interior Designers Are Loving in 2022 | Architectural Digest

How Much Does It Cost to Remove Tile Flooring In 2023? | Forbes

No matter what your home improvement project is, Spoak has the tools to help you visualize it and make it a reality. Our design visualization tool makes it easy for you to map out your ideas and see how they look before committing to them. 

Date Posted
July 2, 2023



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