How to Properly Replace Your Flooring


Dear Mr. Handyman,

I am planning to replace the floor in my bathroom soon. I was told by a friend that the old floor should be totally removed. Please tell me what is normally done when replacing a floor. I now have linoleum tiles and want to put in ceramic or marble tiles.

Corrine S., Fairfield, Connecticut.

Thank you for your question Corrine,

First of all, removing the old floor is not always necessary. It depends on the structural integrity of the wood under the old flooring. This is especially true around toilets and/or sinks where the pipes run through the floor. These areas weaken by rot due to moisture. If you have an unfinished basement, you can inspect these areas. Older houses that were built in the 1940’s to 50’s would have ¾” tongue-and-grove pine planks. Newer houses may have ¾” tongue-and-grove plywood. On top of this is usually another layer of substrate that the finished floor is laid. The finished floor is adhered to this layer of substrate.

Whether to remove the old floor will also depend on the number of old floors under the one there now. Some older houses may have two and even three layers, one over the other. In this case it would be best to remove them and start fresh. Removing these floors is not easy. A special tool is made to make this task easier. After the removal, a new underlayment of plywood will need to be installed.

After the installation of the plywood, the final layer will be installed. If the finished floor is to be tile then this layer will be tile board. This is a special layer made just for tiling with ceramic, marble, stone, and other such material. You will need to plan ahead so that the finished floor will be close to flush with the toilet flange. This will ensure that the wax ring will make a good seal when the toilet is reinstalled. The tile board comes ¼” and ½” thick, so you will need to choose one to fit your needs. The tile-board it screwed down to the plywood underlayment. The gap between sheets is filled with fast drying mortar and mesh fiber tape. This process makes it a single flat, waterproof layer over the floor to set the tiles onto.

Tiling is not hard, but the proper preparation will mean the difference between success and failure. Many special tools are needed to get the job done. Renting or buying these tools is a must. To mention a few of them, you may need tile cutters, nibblers, tools to mix the mortar and grout, trowels, a float grout and many others. The beginning set-up should be worked out so that the cut tiles are close to the same size around the perimeter of the room. This looks better then having wide tiles on one side and narrow tiles on the other side. The grout lines should be even and straight. This can be achieved by purchasing plastic spacers corresponding to the size grout line you prefer. All this thought and preparation is necessary to have a finished floor that is functional and pleasing to the eye.

This may be a job best left to a professional. No need to spend money on tools you will only use once. No need to rent anything and no worries about disposal of the debris. We at Mr. Handyman can handle it all.

Our technicians could come by at your convenience to appraise the work involved to assure you the best job at the most efficient cost. Your satisfaction is our only concern.

Mr. Handyman technicians hold years of experience dealing with work like this. If you feel unsure about being a do-it-yourself person, just give us a call and say “Help,” and help will be there just when you need it, “ON TIME.” You can also take comfort knowing that the work will be, “DONE RIGHT,” with 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed.

If you decide to have a Mr. Handyman visit you, our experienced techs would be able to help you with this and any other jobs you wish to have done. No job is too small; we want you satisfied by living up to our motto, “On Time Done Right.”
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Your, Mr. Handyman Friends