ASK DANNY: Can I install tile directly over plywood?

Using level to install tile on floor. Danny,

Uh oh! My contractor just finished laying 122 square feet of porcelain floors directly over plywood in my kitchen.

When I had asked him if he needed me to purchase backer board, he said no, that he could lay it directly over the subfloor. I felt this wasn’t right, which led me to here, but I suppose it’s too late now.

Did I create a bigger problem for myself?

He only charged me $500 for the labor.


It is not recommended by any manufacturer to install tile directly to plywood.

I would recommend getting a guarantee in writing from the installer.

Click here to learn more about proper tile installation.


  1. I am a flooring installer with 20+ years experience. While I would only use hardibacker or similar products for tile underlayment, I’ve removed tile from plywood subfloor before and sometimes they pop right up with hardly any clean up and sometimes it doesn’t want to come up at all. I can’t explain this.
    Either way, I believe 1⅛” of total subfloor is required

  2. It will last till the tile setter (hack) makes it to the bank. You can’t set tile over wood no matter what the thinset bags says.


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