I love hanging out with master tradespeople. When I watch them work I see years, if not decades, of experience and wisdom expressed through hand and mind. To me, it’s a form of poetry in motion. And when a craftsperson is also an inventor, that makes things especially interesting.
Meet Armen Tavy, a master tile setter who’s been plying his trade for more than three decades. As Armen says, he can tile just about anything that’s not alive. It’s probably that attitude that led him to come up with a way to lay ceramic tile over plastic laminate countertops, vinyl flooring, wood, and many other unlikely substrates.
Tile is Picky When it comes to Sticking
Most ceramic tile put on countertops and floors is applied using a cement-based mortar called thin-set. Tile bonds extremely well to thin-set, but the thin-set is very particular about what it will adhere to. It prefers cement-like surface which is why it normally requires cement board or a mortar bed underneath.
So, just how did Armen get this finicky thin-set to bond securely to otherwise unfriendly surfaces like plastic laminate and vinyl tiles?
Sticky Solution to the Problem
He set about inventing a type of adhesive that would stubbornly attach itself to just about anything. By applying it to, say, a laminate countertop and then laying a fiber glass reinforced paper on top; he created a mortar-friendly surface to which the thin-set would stubbornly bond. Even better, the whole thing was thin as a dime.
Is it Right for You?
If you want to transform an outdated countertop or vinyl floor into ceramic tile, this could an ideal and easy way to do it. One caveat, the tile or vinyl underneath must be secure, that is, not loose or peeling. To learn more about this process, check out this video article or this one.