How to Prep the Floor for Ceramic Floors

Ceramic floors are durable, attractive and easy to care for, but they are not at all flexible. You have to prep the floor for ceramic floors a little more diligently than you would for carpet, laminate or vinyl tiles. Fortunately, new technologies make it a snap to prep for ceramic tiles. A clean sub-floor and a flexible crack isolation membrane are really all you need to prepare for ceramic flooring. Follow the steps below to get ready for your new floor.

  • Broom and dustpan
  • Soy-based adhesive remover
  • Palm sander
  • Coarse-grit sandpaper
  • Dish soap
  • Bucket
  • Hot water
  • Sponge mop
  • Clean shop cloths
  • Crack isolation membrane
  • Optional:
  • Plywood underlayment
Sweep the floor thoroughly once you have pulled up the old carpeting or flooring, if there is any. Make sure you remove all dust and debris, because they can interfere with the tile adhesive.

Apply a soy-based adhesive remover to any old carpet adhesive or flooring glue that is left on a concrete floor, and let it sit for as long as the manufacturer's directions suggest. Do not skimp on the soaking time. If you have carpet glue or flooring adhesive on a plywood sub floor, use a palm sander and coarse-grit sandpaper to grind it down, as you should avoid soaking plywood.

Add five to six healthy squirts of dish soap to a bucket of hot water and use the sponge mop to wash away any residue from the soy-based adhesive remover. Blot up any excess water with clean shop cloths and let the floor dry thoroughly before moving on to the next step. Use a broom to sweep up all dust from your palm sander, if you are working with a plywood sub floor.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for applying tile adhesive directly to a clean concrete floor. If you are applying ceramic tile to a wooden subfloor, you will also need to put down a crack isolation membrane to protect the ceramic tile from any flexing or shifting that the subfloor will do. This comes either as a foam-like material that you lay down like carpet padding, or as a thick, gel-like substance you paint onto the floor, and is available at home improvement centers and tile stores.

Tips and Warnings

  • A layer of plywood screwed into the joists will help stabilize a wobbly subfloor.

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