Self-adhesive or self-stick tiles have gained rapid popularity among the do-it-yourself crowd thanks to the utter ease of installation. These tiles, generally made of vinyl, require no messy mixing or spreading of adhesive; the installer needs to simply peel off the protective paper backing, and push them into place. When installing over a ceramic tile subfloor, some peel-and-stick tiles can be bound to these areas and others can't; if you can install here, there are some preparation tips you must follow.
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Levelling Existing Tile
To install self-adhesive tile over ceramic tile, you must completely level the ceramic tile floor. In general, this means that you must fill in all of the grout lines in the ceramic installation to create a completely flat surface to which the self-stick tile can bond. Fill in these grout lines with fibreglass filler putty. This material should be spread into the grout lines with a putty knife until the grout lines are completely flush with the surrounding tile. When it dries, the filler putty will create a semi-glossy surface similar to that of the ceramic tile.
You cannot install self-adhesive vinyl tiles over any ceramic tile installation that is broken or damaged. The sharp edges of broken tiles will easily cut through the vinyl tiles when pressure is applied that makes the tiles shift. You must remove all damaged tiles. You can replace the removed tiles with new tiles, but this is often hard work to do since it is often difficult to find tiles that match the exact size and style of your former installation. Instead, fill in the gaps left behind by broken tiles in the same way you did the grout lines: with filler putty, which creates a flat and level surface over which self-stick tile can be installed.
Roughen the Subfloor
Depending on the manufacturer, some self-stick tile installations will require you to roughen the ceramic tile floor. Because of the glossy surface of the tile, some adhesive products will not bond to the tile; they need some type of texture surface to form a strong bond. To strip the glossy finish off of your ceramic tile, you have a number of options, including sanding, grinding or acid etching. Your self-adhesive tile manufacturer will provide recommendations for the proper procedure to roughen the floor; floor grinders, power sanders and etching materials are available at hardware and home improvement stores.
Consult your self-adhesive tile manufacturer's specific product instructions and installation details to determine if the tiles can be installed over a glossy surface like ceramic tile. Follow all of these specific product instructions regarding subfloor preparation and installation techniques. If the new tiles cannot adhere to ceramic tile, install cement backerboard or a plywood substrate over the old tile, or pull out all old tile to prepare the way for the self-adhesive products.
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