What Types of Flooring Can Be Installed Over Ceramic Tile?

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated August 25, 2021
A boy with a vacuum in a room with ceramic tiles for flooring
Patrick Fraser/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Less fuss and mess: here's every type of flooring that can be installed right on top of your ceramic tile

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After one too many long nights in the kitchen, you’ve convinced yourself it’s time to opt for something more comfortable than ceramic tiles. But rather than breaking down and removing the flooring, you can save time and money by installing another type of flooring right on top of your existing ceramic tiles. Here are all the options for flooring that will fit perfectly on top of your tiles.

Why Shouldn’t I Remove the Existing Ceramic Tile Myself?

Ripping out ceramic tile is a very difficult process. It is firmly installed into thin set mortar (which is made from cement), so upon removal it can shatter and break into sharp shards that can slice skin as easily as a knife. 

In addition, the process of hammering into the tile can send clouds of dust and broken bits up into the air; in short, it’s a tough, labor-intensive process, and it’s costly to outsource. This is why many homeowners opt to simply install different flooring on top of their ceramic tile.

Types of Flooring You Can Install Over Ceramic Tile

There are several types of flooring you can install over ceramic tile, each with their own pros and cons. Your decision will depend on the room you need to install in and whether or not there are door jambs and fixtures to work around.

Ceramic Tile

It may sound counterintuitive to install ceramic tile over ceramic tile, but if your only gripe with the tile is its pattern design—not its feel—then this is a possibility. Before you begin, you’ll want to do a thorough inspection for any signs of mildew or discoloration. Any signs of either mean there could be an absorption issue that will only worsen if you re-tile on top of the problem. If you see signs of water damage or mold, hire a mold removal service to tackle the problem before it gets worse. Assuming those problems aren’t present, to prepare the surface you should level out any uneven areas of grout and repair loose tiles before installing the new layer.

Vinyl

Typically, higher quality vinyl flooring doesn’t require the use of an underlayment, so you’ll mostly keep your floor’s height the same. Keep in mind that sheet vinyl flooring or vinyl tile are thinner than vinyl plank flooring. 

However if your tiled floor has radiant heating, you may need to install floating vinyl planks as the other options use an adhesive that cannot withstand higher temperatures. In addition, vinyl plank flooring is extremely waterproof, making it a great choice in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.

Laminate

Laminate flooring is inexpensive, very easy to install, and has a padding underneath that can mask any unevenness on the base layer of tile. It does not require any adhesive, making it easy to remove should you ever change your mind.

Engineered Wood

An empty living room with laminate flooring
Mint Images/Mint Images RF via Getty Images

Solid wood is not a great option as it requires plywood sub-floor before installation, and that plus the thickness of the wood (3/4 of an inch) will more often than not make the flooring too thick. That said, engineered wood can be glued directly onto the tile, making installation easy, and it is much thinner than solid wood.

Carpet

Carpet is sold in a range of heights, so you can probably find a style that won’t interfere with your doors or other fixtures in the room. That said, it needs to be applied with epoxy that can stain your tiles, though you can opt to only fasten it in the corners, impacting as few tiles as possible. Since carpet absorbs water and stains easily, it’s not something you want in your bathroom or kitchen, but it does absorb sound better than any other option on this list, which might make it a good choice for a den or kid’s room.

When Do I Need to Remove Ceramic Tiles?

Certain circumstances may necessitate the need to completely remove your ceramic tiling. If several tiles are cracked or loose, it may be time to remove all the tiles so you can take a peek at the subfloor and see if any deeper issues are going on there. 

If you see any signs of water damage or mold, you should have the tile removed and investigate the extent of the damage—mold can spread quickly and become a much bigger, very costly problem.

Removing ceramic tiles is a delicate process, especially if you want to repurpose any of the existing tiles, so we recommend hiring a flooring professional to get the job done correctly.

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