Introducing myself with a question on rescuing flooring

vdinliAugust 9, 2013

Hi Folks, I am new to posting here though I have spent the last few yrs drooling over your kitchens and dreaming about mine! Now it is time for me to get serious and start the process (shudder..). I hope to get input and learn from all you knowledgeable folks here. I will post on our layout problems separately giving more background on our family and needs as suggested in the "New to Kitchens" post.
My initial question is can Hardwood floors under tile be saved? Yes, the PO covered up the hardwoods with tile and white tile at that!! It would be great if it could be saved. It will give us continuity with the rest of the floor and be one less thing to spend $$ on. Or is the process of getting the tile out likely to damage the hardwoods? Has somebody here done it successfully? If so, can you give me pointers on what to specify to the contractors.
I look forward to being a more active presence over here-though with probably more q's than answers at this stage!
Thank you.

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Holly- Kay

Welcome to GW Vin. Hopefully you will find answers here because we have so many talented people answering posts.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 2:53PM
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Circus Peanut

It can certainly be done, but it depends on 1) how the tile were installed, and 2) the age and quality of the floor underneath. If neither is in your favor (deep mud bed on top of engineered wood, for instance) it would possibly be cheaper to simply lay new flooring. If it's old wood, it can be rescued from just about anything, depending on the shape it was in when it was covered.

Do you have photos and more details?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 3:28PM
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Thanks for the welcome!
It is definitely old wood, not engineered wood-probably original to the house built in 1960. I also think there is some kind of plywood/backer lining on top of the wood as we can see the plywood underneath the appliances. However, there is a nearly 1inch difference between the tile in the kitchen and the wood in the nearby living room. I fear that might be a deep mud bed!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 3:51PM
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I am only speculating, but my guess is you will be fine. if there is less than a 1" height difference, and you have reason to believe there is an underlayment, I suspect we can rule out a deep mud bed. Another factor in your favor is that your house is so young; they likely would not have tiled the floor for at least the first, oh, I don't know, 20 years or so. That means the tiling happened in 1980 or later, and by then thinset was common.

TIle is about 3/8", allow another 1/8" for thinset, and 1/2" for the underlayment, and that is already an inch.

After demo, the difficulties are likely to be: scraping thinset or adhesive off the top surface of the wood, and filling the nail or screw holes from the fasteners that hold the underlayment to the wood.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 6:21PM
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The only thing you can do is remove the tile, then remove the plywood by prying it off ... than take pictures of what you find and ask again.

I found decent 1920s wood flooring under a layer cake of ceramic and synthetic tiles and sheet linoleum ... they looked ugly as sin but all it took was sanding off the bottom layer of black gunk and then varnishing. They ended up looking "old" but still attractive.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 8:30PM
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We had what was probably linoleum or vinyl tile over the hardwood (1940 oak) in the front foyer area. It came right up - the tile was about 25 years old at the time - and the refinishers just sanded away the adhesive. The floors were just fine underneath. Hope it works for you.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 10:04PM
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Thanks for sharing your experiences, lazygardens and Ginny20. I am hopeful that we will be able to save the floors and refinish to match the existing flooring. Angie_DIY, I had not taken into account the thickness of the tile so hopefully it is not mud. I guess we will never know until we pry the tiles off. I am tempted to take off one of the tiles that has cracking grout around it!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 1:34AM
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Go ahead and excavate. You may find that the tiles can be popped off by whacking them with a stone chisel or a tile-removing scraper.

Try to figure out how the plywood was attached, and if you can find the edge of the plywood you can see how thick it is.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 10:17AM
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Welcome aboard - it will be exciting to see if you can salvage the floor!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 12:34PM
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