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Can You Tile Over Linoleum? Are There Specific Requirements?

installing porcelain tiles

Many people love the look of tile flooring for many rooms throughout the home, so it’s not surprising when people trade out linoleum for tile.

But you don’t want to do the extra work to pull out the old linoleum flooring if you don’t have to. Fortunately, most of the time, you don’t need to pull up linoleum flooring.

That said, there are a few requirements that you should be aware of before you start the tiling process. We break down everything that you need to know here.

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Can You Tile Over Linoleum?

Most of the time, you can put tile straight over linoleum flooring. However, there are a few things to check before you head out and start picking out tile patterns.

For one thing, if you do find that you need to tear up the old flooring, there’s a potential for a serious safety concern.

The Asbestos Factor

If your home has sheet flooring from before 1990, you should tile over the linoleum. The United States banned most asbestos products in 1989, but before that, it was a common insulator in homes and automobiles.

The problem with asbestos is that it easily comes up into the air, and people can breathe in the small particles. If you have older floors and need to pull up linoleum, we recommend calling in a professional to keep yourself safe.

However, if you want to lay tile over the linoleum, you don’t need to worry about the asbestos because it’s staying undisturbed.

large floor tiles
Image Credit: voronaman, Shutterstock

The 4 Things to Check Before Tiling Over Linoleum

Tiling over the linoleum flooring isn’t always a good idea. There are a few things to check to ensure that you won’t have any problems, both when you’re trying to install the tile flooring and after you get it down.

1. Flooring Condition

If you’re simply looking to install a tile floor because the linoleum is in rough shape, you should probably take the time to pull up the old flooring first.

While you won’t see the linoleum flooring after you cover it with tile, damaged linoleum flooring will be much harder to install tile on. There’s also a chance that the damage spreads and winds up affecting the tile flooring on top of it.

If the linoleum flooring is showing signs of damage, pull it up before installing the tile floor.


2. Floor Height

Most rooms have enough head space to install tile right on top of the existing floor without creating any problems, but some rooms already have barely enough head space. If that’s the case with your room, consider pulling up the linoleum flooring to preserve as much head space as possible before you put the tile in.


3. How the Linoleum Attaches to the Subfloor

There are two things to look for when you’re checking how the linoleum attaches to the subfloor. First, ensure that it’s firmly attached to the subfloor. A loose linoleum flooring will create issues when you’re trying to install the tile flooring.

Second, check if the linoleum flooring has cushioning underneath. While it might seem nice, over time, the cushioning will depress at different levels. This can cause portions of the floor to sag, creating big problems for your tile floor.

If there’s cushioning under the linoleum, we recommend tearing up the old flooring and the cushioning before installing the tile floor.

installing ceramic tiles
Image Credit: AlexeiLogvinovich, Shutterstock

4. Level Flooring

Any time you’re taking the time to install new flooring, you should ensure that everything is level before you start the job. While you can install tile if the room has a small general slope, if there are high points or low points throughout the room, installing the tile will be extremely challenging.

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Advantages of Tile

If you’re not convinced that tile is the way to go for you yet, here are a few of the advantages that tile has over linoleum.

Extremely Durable

Few flooring surfaces are quite as durable as tile. If you install it correctly and care for it properly, there’s no reason that it can’t easily last 50 years. That’s a long time for flooring, and it means you won’t have to worry about reflooring that room any time soon.

Water Resistant

One of the primary reasons that people choose tile flooring is because it’s extremely water resistant. This makes it an excellent choice for bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and any other room with running water.

man's hand cleaning tiles
Image Credit: Benjamin Clapp, Shutterstock

Environmentally Friendly

Did you know that most tile manufacturers use materials like glass, sand, or clay to make tile? Compared to synthetic products or wood products, tile is one of the most eco-friendly choices out there for your flooring needs. This is especially true when you consider how long tile flooring can last.

Low Maintenance

You’ll need to keep up with a cleaning schedule for your tile floor, but that’s about all you need to do. Compared to many other flooring options, they’re about as low maintenance as you can get.

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Final Thoughts

Now that you know more about installing tile flooring over linoleum, all that’s left is for you to check your old linoleum flooring to see if you can put tile right on top of it. If you can, it’s time to start picking out tile colors and patterns for your new floor!


Featured Image Credit: bNUTTANART KHAMLAKSANA, Shutterstock

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