Man in blue shirt laying tile on cement backer board on a plywood subfloor.
Laying tile on cement backer board over a plywood subfloor.

Ceramic tile can be laid directly over a concrete slab using thin-set adhesive. The only prep work needed is to remove any old adhesive or paint and clean the concrete first.

Before laying tile over a plywood subfloor, cement backer board needs to be nailed or screwed to the floor. Next, apply fiberglass tape embedded in thin-set adhesive over the seams in the backerboard.

After the seams have dried, apply thin-set with a notched trowel to secure the tile. Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Danny Lipford: When people remodel bathrooms, they often ask if they have to prepare the floor at all before laying ceramic tile. The answer depends on what is beneath the finished flooring or the subfloor.

If the subfloor is a concrete slab, there’s very little preparation necessary. You simply scrape off any old adhesive or paint residue, and clean the surface before applying the thin-set adhesive that will secure the new ceramic tiles.

If the subfloor is wood, it will need to be covered with cement backerboard first. Wood and masonry materials expand and contract at different rates, so the backerboard creates a continuous surface that will move with the tile.

After it is nailed or screwed to the subfloor, the seams are covered with fiberglass tape. Then those seams are covered with thin-set adhesive.

Once all of this is dry, you’re ready to apply more thin-set for laying the tiles, just as you would have on a concrete slab.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Hello Danny, I just started watching your TV show last week.

    I have a question: Should I have my concrete patio floor and driveway floor sealed?

    I just bought a house that has been sitting on the lot for three months and was used as a demonstrator and the patio concrete floor has three cracks (cracks runs north and south and then east and west) and the double driveway has one (it runs north and south). The cracks are just a little bit wider than a hair line crack.
    The house inspector and the sales person said it was natural for the cement to sometimes crack. My house is a manufacturing resident.
    I became an owner of the house in February and rent the Lot. I live in Florida. Should I be concern?

  2. I have a painted basement cement floor and would like to tile the floor with ceramic tile.
    Getting all the paint off is tricky.
    Can thin set be put on paint ?
    Thanks

  3. Hi Danny My husband has just lifted the bathroom tiles of the floor and the cement is sticking to the wooden board that was put down for the tiles to be put on will we need to lift it and put new wood down thank you.

    • Hi Jean,
      Danny says, “Yes, I would suggest gluing the runners down with construction adhesive, and securing with a Ramset gun. They can be rented very inexpensively. Good luck with this project!”

  4. I pulled all the carpet off my downstairs floor and painted and put a gloss on the cement. I now want to lay porcelain tile down – but, I am afraid it won’t stick to the cement. Do I need to sand or do something else to make sure it is done correctly?

    • Hi, Tom,
      First, we would defer to recommendations of the thinset (tile adhesive) manufacturer you are using for the tile.
      However, we would try to at least remove the gloss from the paint, if not also remove the paint itself.
      Anything to promote adhesion between the concrete and the new tile isn’t a wasted effort!
      Good luck with your project!

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