With proper preparation, wooden floors can be transitioned to tile floors. Tile floors may be preferable to a wooden floor in cases where it would not be cost effective to refinish the wooden floor, or in cases where a tile floor is more durable to the type of traffic a floor receives, such as animals or children with wet and muddy feet.
Step 1 - Determining if the Wooden Floor Will Work for Tile
Look to see if the wooden flooring is on top of sub flooring or laying directly on the floor joists. The combined thickness should be 1 to 1 ½ inches thick. If it isn’t at least 1 inch thick, you will have to add plywood to the flooring.
Step 2 - Preparing the Room
It is easier to lay tile with all the furniture out of the room. Baseboards should be removed so that tile can be installed up to the wall.
Step 3 - Preparing the Floor
If the wooden floor is directly on the floor joists, and is not at least 1 inch thick, you may have to add plywood before laying tile. If you have to lay plywood, make sure the floor is level and straight before installing the plywood. Fill in any holes or cracks with wood putty or filler.
Use an outdoor grade of 5/8 inch plywood and place each sheet 1/8 inch apart to allow for expansion of the wood. Screw the plywood into the wooden flooring and the floor joists.
If you are installing ceramic tile, you will also have to place cement backer board on top of the plywood or the wooden floor. This is a type of thin drywall specifically used for ceramic tile. Ceramic tile does not adhere well to wood. Cement backer board is installed 1/8 inch apart and the cracks are filled in with silicon before laying ceramic tile.
Step 4 - Sanding the Floor and Applying Adhesive
Whether laying plywood or using the wood flooring, you will have to sand the floor. The floor must be smooth, level and straight to keep tile from cracking. Vacuum the floor after sanding and make sure it is clean.
Be sure to check with the manufacturer on the type of adhesive that should be used with whatever type of tile you choose. Work in small areas at a time and finish in sections. That way, you can take breaks to relax your knees and back.