Ceramic floor tiles are beautiful and durable, but sometimes you want a change--a new floor. Ripping up your ceramic floor can be a long, messy process. The good news is that you can often lay the new floor on top of the old tiles if you prepare the the tiles properly before placing the new layer of flooring.
Examine the existing tiles closely to see if they in suitable condition to serve as an underlayment beneath your new floor. Are they solidly placed, unbroken, and not pulling up from the adhesive? If there is grout between tiles it should be complete, with no stretches of grout missing from joints.
Walk over the floor checking for popping sounds or creaks, which might indicate a problem with the subfloor. Make sure the tile surface is level. If you see problems with the old tile surface, or if the tile surface already sits above a prior flooring surface, then it's best to pull it out and begin from the subfloor instead of placing the new layer over it.
Measure to make sure the room has sufficient clearance for the new tile floor. Installation of cabinets and appliances may depend on the original height of the floor. If you install a new layer, you may have to change baseboards, raise cabinets above refrigerators, or cut higher grooves into door mouldings. You will have to perform the necessary changes before laying the new floor.
After determining that the old tile floor is suitable as an underlayment for the new floor, you will have to prepare the floor properly for the new installation. You will be creating a smooth flat surface for the new flooring to adhere to, because the joints in ceramic floors will cause a slight unevenness if the new flooring is applied directly.
Use a self-leveling compound to create the new surface. Purchase the compound at your local hardware or home improvement store, and mix until it's about the consistency of pancake batter before pouring it over the tiles. Use a trowel to smooth it like concrete, and let it set according to the manufacturer's instructions before you begin installing the new floor layer.
Choose a compatible flooring type to lay over your ceramic tiles. Because the self-leveling compound creates the equivalent of a concrete subfloor, your new floor type must be one that uses an adhesive or mortar for placement. Laminate, vinyl or another layer of ceramic tiles are all compatible flooring types, as are glued-on hardware floors.
Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.