Ask the Irish Hammer
by Jim “Irish Hammer” Brewster ◊ Jul 06, 2012
Question: I am in the process of putting new tile down on my bathroom floor. After pulling up the first layer of vinyl “peel and stick” tile, I discovered another layer of older, but similar, tile underneath. I plan on putting down ceramic tile. Can I just start tiling over this existing tile or do I have to pull it up, as well? Also, the ceramic tile that I am using is a lot thicker than the “peel and stick” tile that is currently on the floor. Is this going to be a problem if I plan on using my current toilet, or am I going to have to buy a whole new toilet to account for the new floor height? (Jim “not an Irish Hammer”)
Thanks for the question, Jim. First, you have to determine if the second peel-n-stick floor is stuck down and is flat. I might guess that you may just want to change the appearance of what’s there because you didn’t talk about water problems. If there was a leak, it would require a much more extensive repair to fix it. You can go over the old floor if it is too hard to get off.
As always, the job outcome depends on the preparation. Do yourself a big favor and remove the vanity to tile under it, and maybe replace it. This is the time for a quick make over at a reasonable cost. Two more things to think about at this time are the baseboard and the threshold. The best way to do this project is to remove the baseboard instead of tile up to it. You will notice that it will look smaller than the rest of the house. Lights, vanity, medicine cabinet, and a nice clean paint job will make it look great for your efforts.
I am not sure if you are doing the tile yourself or having it done by a friend or relative. As a contractor, I would give you all the options and choices. Do you have a pattern in mind for the tile? Do you need to match or compliment a room nearby? If you are doing this yourself, you may not have a “wet saw,” maybe only a tile cutter. This will limit your ability to make the harder cuts. Fill it in with grout and it will be fine. Clean as you go – many sponges and towels. Then, there’s the age old question of paint or paper, or both? How does that tub look? Tile around an old cast iron tub or a surround with bad seams?
As far as the toilet goes, that can be a crappy job. But, seriously, it can be a pain in the butt. One more, a seal at the throne is very important. If the flange is still good, it isn’t a problem. New bolts and wax ring on a level floor will be fine. Take the time to make sure the floor under the toilet is flat and level. It will wobble in the middle of the night when you are tired and is the last thing you need and want.
Last thought, take your time, measure twice, and cut once. Most tiles don’t cost that much if you have a bad cut…the cost to your hair or marriage can be more.
This gets 5-8 out of 10 Hammers on the difficulty scale depending how crazy you get with the patterning of the tile and how many more parts you add to the project.
Thanks for your time,
Jim “Irish Hammer” Brewster
Owner, Your Castle Carpenter
P.S. Inspiration and your imagination can make for some very interesting ideas.