How to Install Ceramic Tile Over Vinyl Flooring

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:
Hey, it's Mr. Tile.
RON HAZELTON:
Now are you --
RON HAZELTON:
I'm here. Good to see you again.
RON HAZELTON:
Thank you.
RON HAZELTON:
I'm all ready for you over here. You're looking good.
ARMAND:
Thank you, Ron. I made the mock up for you.
RON HAZELTON:
You know, when you called me and said you had a way of putting ceramic tile directly on top of vinyl I said, I've got to see this.
ARMAND:
Well Ron, I'm here to prove it to you today.
RON HAZELTON:
Now you were here a while back. You showed us how to put ceramic tile on top of plastic laminate, a countertop in that case. Now this is a similar process, but in this case, we're putting it over a vinyl floor.
ARMAND:
Regardless of the surface, Ron, as long as it comes from a tree or it's made by man, regardless of what it is, except carpeting or upholstering the human body, we can tile on it.
RON HAZELTON:
All right, there are two key components to Armand's tiling system. One is this adhesive that's applied directly to the face of the vinyl floor tile. The second component is a non woven synthetic fabric Armand calls, thin skin.

It's laid on top, then pressed firmly into the adhesive, using either a trowel or a wallboard joint knife. The adhesive sticks to the vinyl flooring and the fabric  bonds to the glue. Next, standard thin set cement is mixed up.

Armand says it should end up being the consistency of ketchup. It's then troweled onto the fabric in a level, even coat. It will dry in about half an hour or so.

Well, I'd say you've got what looks and feels like a cement surface here.
ARMAND:
We actually created a thin underlayment layer that's probably less than a 32nd of an inch. So we didn't raise the floor, we didn't use any nails or screws. And we didn't add any weight.

RON HAZELTON:
Now a second, heavier coat of think set will be applied on top of the first. Armand uses the smooth edge of the trowel to spread the cement. Then, he changes to the knot side and holding the tool at a steep angle, creates parallel ridges that are all the same height.

Now this will insure that there's an even coating beneath each tile and no low spots or voids that might cause tiles to break or crack later on. Now watch closely. At first, Armand sets the tiles so the edges actually touch each other. Then he wiggles each tile just a bit while gently pulling it away from its neighbor.

The wiggling insures good contact with the cement below. The touching, then pulling away keeps the joints clean and free of excess cement. Now after three decades of tiling, Armand has come up with a couple of inventions to save time and improve results like this easy to grip tile spacer.

One side is for intersecting joints and the other keeps the edges evenly spaced.
ARMAND:
Around the perimeter or wherever you don't have a four pointer intersection -- there you go Ron, beat them in.
RON HAZELTON:
Okay. Now, question, we already pushed these down or wiggled them around --
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
-- what's the purpose then of going back with a mallet?
ARMAND:
Insurance. To pop out any remaining air. Okay, that's your next step.
RON HAZELTON:
And here's invention number two. No, it's not a hockey puck.

ARMAND:
I hear that sound, Ron. What does that tell you?
RON HAZELTON:
The sound of a high tile, right?
ARMAND:
Yeah, what we call a toe kicker.
RON HAZELTON:
A toe kicker as in tripping, right?
ARMAND:
In tripping.
RON HAZELTON:
All right, so this is very clever. So this --you can tell by feel and by sound --
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
ARMAND:
And sound, yes. Now you've got the opportunity to use that dead blow rubber mallet which I prefer and to beat that tile down and get it down and keep maneuvering the puck as you do that until you're comfortable with the sound. Don't be afraid, you can't hurt it.
RON HAZELTON:
While the spacers may go in easily, they practically pop out with a sweep of the hand. With the cement dry, now it's time for grout. Armand mixes his on the stiff side and uses a rubber float with plenty of pressure to force the mixture all the way down to the bottom of the joints.

Then, holding the float on an angle, he moves diagonally across the face of the tile, removing as much of the excess as possible.
ARMAND:
We're going to do first, a rough wash. Basically it cleans it off the surface of the tile, lubricates the joint a little bit. The second wash will clean the surface of the tile and the grout joint, smoothing it as we go. And it's possible we may do a third wash.

As soon as this dries, we're going to use a soft dry cloth. It's like polishing your car after you wax it. Same results.
RON HAZELTON:
Finished?
. ARMAND:
Done.
RON HAZELTON:
Now, lest we forget, let's try to remember back to what this looked like just a few hours ago before we started this with that, with that vinyl. Very interesting process. You began with the vinyl.
ARMAND:
Vinyl composition tiles.
RON HAZELTON:
Okay. And then on top of that went the thin skin named after Mr. Tavi[?].
ARMAND:
Right.
RON HAZELTON:
And on top of that, you put the first thin coat of thin set --
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
-- on top of that.  Then we put our, our tile setting mortar on that.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
ARMAND:
Put mortar on that. Teeth of a trowel, we put the mortar.
RON HAZELTON:
And then the tile.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
ARMAND:
We installed the tile.
RON HAZELTON:
Now you've got your name and your face all over this system. Does that mean it's personally guaranteed by you?
ARMAND:
That's right, Ron. I'm fully confident and I have a written 15 year warranty.
RON HAZELTON:
Hey, listen, thanks for coming by. It's always fun to have you and I always learn something.
ARMAND:
My pleasure, Ron. Call me any time.
RON HAZELTON:
But then again, you are a lot older than I am.
ARMAND:
It's only years, Ron.
RON HAZELTON:
Last time he was here, I discovered that Armand was a songwriter and I coaxed a performance out of him.
ARMAND:
[SINGS] It has magic powers, most would say.
RON HAZELTON:
Now I've learned he's also a poet. So I've asked for an encore.
ARMAND:
[RECITES WITH HARMONICA] Then years have passed, some would say and others would only sigh. And yet some more would only sit right down and cry. Well most [   ?  ] misfortune hangs over me, [   ?  ] would only be a starter for a guy like me.

So for the one who [   ?  ], I dedicate my life, my soul.

A Unique and Time-Saving Way to Apply Ceramic Tile Directly on Top of Vinyl Flooring

Using the Tavy Thin Skin System, home owners are now able to lay ceramic tile over surfaces that would have never before been possible. Ron and Armen Tavy demonstrate one such surface in this project, as they install ceramic tile over vinyl flooring.

You can find the Tavy products here.

Apply the Thin Skin Fabric
Step 1

Apply the Thin Skin Fabric

Begin the project by creating the Thin Skin surface. Use a trowel to spread a thin layer of adhesive across the entire surface that is to be tiled, and then press the fabric into the adhesive with a large putty knife. Now you have created a surface that will bond with the mortar. Remember, the adhesive sticks to the vinyl and the fabric sticks to the adhesive.

Skim Coat the Fabric with Mortar
Step 2

Skim Coat the Fabric with Mortar

Mix a thin batch of mortar and spread it over the Tavy fabric with a flat edged trowel. The mortar should be about the consistency of ketchup. This skim coat should be very thin, and only needs to be thick enough to bond with the fabric. After it dries in about 30 minutes, you will have created a smooth, masonry surface upon which to install your tile. All of the worries that come with installing tile over vinyl, have literally been covered up.

Set the Tile
Step 3

Set the Tile

Begin this step after the skim coat is dry. Trowel on a 2nd coat of mortar, this time using a 1/4" notched trowel. Be sure to create even ridges over the entire surface, as this will prevent air gaps. Air gaps can lead to cracked tiles down the road. Set the tiles into the mortar, making sure to wiggle each tile into position, as this will ensure uniform coverage of the mortar onto the back of each tile. The edges will be cleaner if you place the tiles edge to edge and the slide them apart to create the correct spacing.

Install Spacers
Step 4

Install Spacers

As you work your way across the field of tile, setting them into place, install spacers at every intersection to ensure that all of the grout lines in your floor are uniform. Armen Tavy has invented a type of spacer that is double sided and can be used between two tiles, or at a corner between four tiles. As you install the spacers, tap each tile with a rubber or plastic mallet to ensure that all of the air underneath the tile has been forced out.

Check for High Tiles
Step 5

Check for High Tiles

The Tavy System also includes a unique tool called a tile puck. This small, hand held tool is run back and forth over each joint as you install the field, and will notify you with a small click if you have adjacent tiles that are different heights. Work your way across your joints with your Tavy Tile Puck and a rubber mallet to ensure that you don't have any high spots in your floor.

Apply the Grout
Step 6

Apply the Grout

Grout should be worked into the joints with a grout float, working across the floor at a 45 degree angle. After the first pass of grout with the float, you will need to do a rough wash with a damp sponge. Most projects require several rough washes with a sponge, allowing the surface to dry between each wash. Once the grout has been removed, go back with a clean dry cloth and buff away any remaining grout residue or haze that is left behind.