Laminate Over Ceramic Tile: Problems + Disadvantages

Ceramic tile is prone to breaking, cracking, chipping, and feeling cold, which makes it undesirable for most indoor living areas and even bathrooms. To transform it into a more comfortable type of flooring under your feet, you might want to consider laminate planks. But, can you really install laminate flooring over tile? Are there any problems?

You can lay laminate flooring over tile that’s not yet chipped, broken, or cracked to improve the aesthetics and feel of your floors. You’ll either have to glue down the laminate planks or float them over the tile but after installing an underlayment as a moisture barrier to prevent bubbling.

Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic flooring product designed from wood byproducts bonded with resins and infused together with a lamination process.  Most brands of laminate flooring have a lifespan of more than 15 years, which is much longer than that of ceramic tile.

Can you install laminate flooring over ceramic tile?

Can you lay laminate over ceramic tile
Photo credit: Shutterstock.

You can install laminate flooring over a ceramic tile floor if your ceramic tiles are in decent condition, and the room has enough floor height. You’ll also need underlayment for the laminate flooring to provide moisture protection and keep your floor warm.

How to Install Laminate Flooring Over Ceramic Tile?

Before you begin your installation process, you will need to put some tools and supplies together. Some of the tools you will need include a hammer, utility knife, rubber mallet (optional), tapping block or pull bar, straightedge, tape measure, pencil, speed square, handsaw, and chalk box. The materials you need include the planks, underlayment for laminate, tape, and scrap wood spacers.

Here’s how to install laminate flooring over ceramic tile:

1. Acclimatize a laminate floor

Put your laminate floorboards closed in the packaging and lay them flat in the room where you plan to install them. Some manufacturers recommend you acclimatize laminate floorboards for 48 hours but it’s good you read the instruction on the package to get the correct recommend period.

While acclimatizing your laminate floorboards, make sure the living conditions in the room you plan to carry out the installation are normal. Your laminate floorboards will not acclimate properly if they are exposed to wet fresh plastering or painting.

2. Replace any damaged tiles

Inspect the existing ceramic tiles to ensure they are in good condition before you begin the installation work. If your existing ceramic tile floor is not well attached or protruding, you need to fix it first.

Replace any chipped, cracked, or broken tiles to prevent any structural problems such as a bouncy laminate floor after installing the planks over ceramic tile.  

3. Measure the ceiling height

Measure the ceiling height to ensure there is enough height to accommodate the additional height added by laminate floors. If the height is small, installing laminate flooring over ceramic tile won’t be a good option. It will lead to a smaller ceiling height, which in turn can affect home value and taller people.

4. Level the floor

The next step is to level the uneven ceramic floors to prevent laminate floorboards from detaching when one steps on uneven parts. Use a leveling compound to level the tiles before you install laminate floorboards.

5. Install an underlayment

Attach an underlayment under the laminate flooring to provide better moisture protection, heat insulation, and warmth underfoot.

An underlayment is usually a spongy plastic foam sheet that’s rolled out between the actual laminate floorboards and the ceramic subfloor.

6. Install laminate floorboards

Once the floor is smooth and uniform and the underlayment is installed, proceed to lay down the laminate floorboards. Make sure the rows of laminate floorboards have a staggered, sawtooth appearance for visual appeal and added structural strength. Use a tape measure to ensure there is a 9.5 millimeters gap from the wall to give more room for expansion.

7. Apply sealant

Apply a preferred tile sealant to the entire perimeter of the wall to create a watertight finish.

Problems of Putting Laminate Over Tile

While laying laminate over ceramic tile is mostly a good idea, you’ll have to be content with a few problems and issues. Bathrooms, in particular, can be costly to remodel because laminate requires good underlayment and sealing the seams. Also, there are concerns that laminate isn’t unhealthy in home environments.

Here are the common problems of putting laminate over tile.

Laminate flooring can be toxic

Some laminate floorboards are made using chemical adhesives that release toxic fumes in the home especially when new. Although the toxicity levels in most laminate flooring brands are low, you might still be exposed to unhealthy gases and chemicals such as formaldehyde when temperatures rise in your house.

Since toxicity in flooring material is a major problem, you might want to consider keeping your ceramic tile and laying carpet over it if you want to create warmth under the feet. Otherwise, always ensure the type of laminate flooring you want to install on your floor tiles are by all means ecologically and environmentally low-impact products.

Creates a hard surface

Putting laminate floors over tiles creates a hard floor surface that is not comfortable for most homeowners. You can add an underlayment form below the laminate flooring but these underlayment sheets don’t offer much help in reducing the hardness.

Produce unwanted sound

Another problem with installing laminate floorboards over tiles is that they produce unwanted sounds that are uncomfortable when walking over them. The snapping and popping sound is produced when you walk over a newly installed laminate floor.

In addition, the weight of people walking over the new floor and also any heavy furniture on the floor stresses the grooves and interlocking tongues producing this disturbing sound in return.

Laminate can be slippery

Laying laminate floors over tile can result in a slippery surface, which is a major hazard in your home especially if you’re installing it in your bathroom. It creates a smooth surface that can cause accidents to the residents.

For safety purposes, I would recommend that you choose laminate boards that have a lower slippery index and are meant to be installed in high-risk areas such as bathrooms and showers.

You must guard it against moisture

Laminate floors attract condensation when they are subjected to extreme cold conditions. The moisture that is produced as a result of condensation move underneath the underlayment, causing the floorboards to expand and eventually warp.

To prevent buckling and warping laminate flooring, you’ll have to install some kind of waterproofing in the anatomy of your floor. This is commonly a high quality underlayment material. Adding underlayment to the project of laying laminate over tile can significantly increase the cost of your project.

High installation costs

While the laminate floorboards might be cheaper, the cost of installation is a little bit higher. On average, placing laminate over tile costs $2 to $3 per square foot plus the cost of installation. This is a little bit more compared to the cost of installing other types of materials over tiles.

Can you lay laminate over bathroom tile?

You can install laminate flooring over bathroom tile making sure the seams are tight enough to prevent water from seeping down into the wood chipping core. Since laminate flooring has a photograph on its top, you can achieve the look of a hardwood floor in your bathroom just by laying it over tile.

One of the advantages of laminate over bathroom tiles is that laminate floors can stand up to heavy traffic, withstand drippy towels and dropped curling irons. Laminate floors can also overcome tough stains, from nail polish and makeup.

Some manufacturers do not recommend installing laminate floorboards over bathroom tiles due to the possibility of water damage. Make sure you review every laminate flooring product and installation instructions when choosing your preferred product. After installation, you need to take utmost care to prevent water from penetrating beneath the underlayment.

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