Ceramic tile is an affordable and easily maintained floor for residential or commercial settings, but may not be desirable for every room or every décor. Removing existing ceramic tile is time consuming and labor intensive, and is not necessary for many lightweight flooring materials (unless the sub-floor needs repair). For faster installation of permanent or temporary flooring, it may not be necessary to remove ceramic tiles before installing a new floor.
Wall-to-wall carpet requires a padding to be placed under the carpet. When installed over ceramic tiles, carpet padding protects tiles from wear and damage. Wall-to-wall carpet is secured to tack strips placed along the edge of the floor, adjacent to the walls and is that a nailed to the sub-floor.
Nailing tack strips to the sub-floor through ceramic tile causes permanent damage by shattering the affected tiles. To minimized damage, place a strip of masking tape along the tiled areas where the tack strips will be placed. Secure the tack strips with screws through pre-drilled holes, drilling through the masking tape and tiles.
For laying carpet over ceramic tile floors that cannot be damaged at all, try using a heavy duty double stick tape on the back of the tack strips instead of nails or screws. The adhesive can be removed at a later date using an adhesive remover.
Vinyl flooring, whether purchased in large rolls or pre-cut squares, is secured with a contact adhesive. Installation of vinyl flooring over ceramic tile is possible, but should be considered permanent and irreversible, as the adhesive is much too difficult to remove from the ceramic tiles.
Vinyl flooring, once installed, shows every bump and ridge underneath. Installation over ceramic tile reveals the grid of tile and grout. For a smoother appearance, a floor leveling compound must be used to fill in the grout lines and mask the tile pattern and broken tiles. The compound comes as a dry powder that you mix with water on site. Smooth the compound over the tiled area with a squeegee and allow it to dry according to directions. If depressions remain visible after the compound is dry, retouch low spots until the floor's surface is smooth.
Laminate flooring is designed to float above the sub-floor, which makes it a great option to install over ceramic tile floors. A special lightweight padding is used as a cushion and vapor barrier under laminate flooring, and that padding also will protect ceramic tiles from further wear. Edging used to finish the laminate floor are secured into the wall, avoiding damage to ceramic tiles underneath. The laminate can be removed without damaging the underlying tile.
Tile floors are relatively heavy compared to other flooring substances. It is not advisable to install new tile over old tile unless the structure can withstand the added weight.
If you are renting your home or apartment, installing new flooring that damages the tiles will make you liable for damages. Discuss improvements with your landlord before making any changes. All verbal agreements for improvements must be documented in writing for your protection.