Proper Thinset for Going Over Vinyl Tile

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Vinyl tiles are notoriously difficult to remove from a subfloor, which leads many homeowners to wondering if it is possible to tile over the vinyl. While it is possible, it is usually only recommended if the vinyl contains asbestos and cannot be removed.


Regardless of what type of vinyl tile it is, proper thinset techniques can help make sure the new tiles are well bonded to the vinyl. Using the right type of thinset and preparing the vinyl correctly will help to ensure the new tiles go down smoothly.

Things You'll Need

  • Cleaning supplies
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Water
  • Latex additive thinset mortar
  • Bucket
  • Trowel
  • Clean and inspect the vinyl tiles well. The vinyl must be well bonded to the substrate and must be free of waxes, dirt, debris or any substances that could interfere with the bond of the thinset to the vinyl. Use a solution of one part isopropyl alcohol and three parts water to strip wax from the vinyl. Otherwise, use floor cleaners to remove dirt and debris.

  • Pour dry thinset mortar that has been modified with latex into a large bucket. The latex is important because it will help the new tiles to flex with the softer vinyl tiles. Add water to the dry thinset very slowly, using a trowel to mix the thinset constantly as you pour. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bucket with the trowel frequently. Stop adding water and mixing when the mortar drops off the trowel.

  • Spread the mortar a small amount at a time onto the vinyl floor. Key, or rake, the mortar with a notched trowel to ensure it is an even thickness before laying the new floor tiles. Spread only as much mortar as you can reasonably lay tiles on within a few minutes; if the mortar becomes too dry, it will no longer bond properly to the vinyl.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are positive that the vinyl tiles contain no asbestos, use a belt sander to rough up the vinyl before you lay the thinset down. The rougher surface will help the thinset get a better grip on the vinyl; do not sand tiles that may contain asbestos fibers.

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