How to Apply Vinyl Tile Over Ceramic Tile

Updated February 21, 2017

There are a variety of flooring options on the market, and your first choice, or the one you are provided when you buy a home, may not be the best. Ceramic tiles can offer a number of advantages in the world of flooring, but their style and design is not for everyone. If you choose to install vinyl tile over your existing ceramic, rest assured that the vinyl will stick; however, you must level the ceramic floor to make sure the old tiles do not show through.

Inspect the ceramic tile for any loosened or damaged tiles. Repair small cracks or chips with liquid epoxy. Remove any severely damaged pieces and fill the gaps with liquid cement or mortar. Use only enough cement or mortar to bring the section even with the rest of the tiles; you must maintain a flat surface.

Mix grout and water as instructed with your specific product; different products will require different mixtures of each. Use a grout trowel to add grout to the joints between the ceramic tiles, until they are completely even with the tile surfaces. Wipe any excess grout from the joints or the tiles with paper towels. Adding grout to the joints will give you a completely flat surface.

Install an underlayment if directed by your chosen vinyl product. Some vinyl tiles are designed to adhere directly to the old floor, while others will require a layer of plywood or other underlayment to control moisture and possible expansion or contraction.

Sweep the floor clean to remove any dust or dirt from grouting or installing the underlayment. Any dirt or dust left on the surface can ruin the way the new tiles adhere to the surface.

Lay vinyl tiles, beginning in the centre of the floor and working your way out. If you are working in a large area, you may benefit from breaking the area into quadrants and working one section at a time.

Pull away the wax paper backing of self-adhesive tiles and carefully lay the tile in place, rubbing firmly across the surface to encourage the adhesive to stick. If you are working with tiles that do not self-stick, use a trowel to spread a thin, even layer of adhesive on the ceramic or underlayment and press the tiles in to place.

Cut tiles to size using a vinyl tile cutter to make tiles fit around vents or against the wall. Continue to install tile until the entire floor is covered.

Roll the entire floor surface with a baker's roller to ensure that all areas stick equally.

Allow the adhesive to dry for at least five days before washing, so that the glue has enough time to dry.


If you have to use adhesive to attach the vinyl tiles, be sure you spread it in an even layer; uneven adhesive could change the lay of the floor, creating bumps or other hazards. Find supplies for this project at hardware and home improvement stores. Consult with an expert there if you have questions regarding materials or their use.


If you have to install a wood underlayment, you will have to pre-drill holes for the screws to connect to the ceramic; otherwise, the tile will crack.

Things You'll Need

  • Epoxy filler
  • Liquid cement or mortar
  • Grout
  • Water
  • Grout trowel
  • Paper towels
  • Underlayment
  • Broom
  • Vinyl tiles
  • Adhesive
  • Vinyl tile cutter
  • Rolling pin
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About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.