Can you install laminate or vinyl flooring over existing tiles?

A common question customers have is whether or not we can install new flooring over their existing tiles and in most cases, the answer is yes. Sometimes, however, it is best getting rid of those old tiles and starting fresh.

Installing over existing tiles is much more convenient, less time consuming and less expensive. Besides that, removing tiles is a noisy and dirty job.

To determine whether or not you can install over the existing tiles, the following needs to be taken into consideration.


The tiles should be in good condition. Cracked tiles could be an indication of underlying problems. Whether that be a poor installation or an unstable subfloor, cracked tiles require further investigation to determine the cause. If cracking is recent and ongoing, it is preferable to remove the tiles before installing a new floor. New flooring requires a solid, smooth and level surface to install on to so in addition to being in good condition, there should be no hollow spots below the tiles and the area as a whole needs to be level and even.


Most of the time, the slight increases in the overall height of the flooring does not cause any problems. In most cases, only doors are affected but these can be trimmed down to allow for the increase in height.

Different types of flooring have different thicknesses and it is important to consider the combined thickness of the final product when deciding whether or not to remove the tiles.

Laminate flooring with 2mm underlay ranges between 10mm and 14mm. Glue down luxury vinyl with self-levelling screed ranges between 7mm and 10mm and engineered wood, which generally comes in 15mm thick varieties, with underlay, can increase the height of the floor by 17mm.

Consider how this will affect adjoining areas, entrances, doors, cupboards and spaces for appliances. For example, kitchen counter tops are often at just the right height to fit a dishwasher. If the floor height is increased by 17mm, your dishwasher won’t fit back in.

If you find that the height increase won’t cause any problems down the road, and the tiles are all in good nick, then there is no reason to go through the process of removing them.

In the case of laminate and engineered wood flooring, this will entail laying down an underlay on which the new flooring is installed. When installing glue down, or stick down luxury vinyl flooring, however, a self-levelling screed will be applied first, after which the vinyl planks will be glued down directly on to the screed.

Can laminate or vinyl be installed over solid wood flooring?

Installing laminate, engineered wood or vinyl flooring on top of solid wood flooring is not ideal and a much better solution (if your budget allows for it) is to remove the solid wood floors and prepare the crawl space and base for new flooring.

The biggest concern with a crawl space is the moisture that accumulates in these areas which can wreak all forms of havoc with your new flooring. The biggest part of the preparation will be to try to eliminate the risk of moisture damage. Depending on which method you use it will also be necessary to make sure that the structure you will be installing the new floor on is sound.

There are two methods that can be considered. One: Repair and prepare the crawl space for new flooring. Two: Fill the crawl space.



Remove the old solid wood floor planks and check all the beams and joists for termites and dry rot. Make sure that they are solid, secure and in good enough shape to support the new flooring. Replace any joists that show signs of ageing with treated pine joists. Make absolutely sure there aren’t any signs of termites in the wood that remains.


Lay a sheet of 200/250-micron SABS virgin plastic on the soil and around the brick plinths. Then lay a second sheet well overlapped and deep looped over the joists, coming up the inside walls. Lastly, lay a third sheet of plastic shallow looped over the joists and up the inside walls.


Screw down 18mm plywood onto the joists making sure the ends of the plywood end on a joist. Leave a 5mm gap around each board.


Now lay yet another sheet of 200/250 micron SABS virgin plastic over the plywood and top that with a 3mm polythene foam sound cushioning barrier.

You now have a solid base to install your new floor on.


This method would require a builder to fill up the crawl space and have it compacted. A sheet of SABS 200/250mm micron virgin plastic must then be thrown over the fill and well overlap the joints.

A slab can then be thrown and can be floated and screeded if necessary. When all is tested dry, you’re ready to install your new flooring.

Both of these methods will be costly but if you absolutely want to play it safe, can afford it and have the time and space available for a project like this to take place at your home, this is the way to do it.

Can I install laminate flooring in my kitchen?

The question on whether or not one can, or should install laminate flooring in a kitchen is most probably the most frequently asked question we get. This is mostly due to concerns over possible water damage from spills or leaking appliances. Let’s first look at general, day to day spills from cooking and cleaning.

A good quality laminate floor, with a high core density (upward of 850 to 950 kg per cubic meter), can be installed in a kitchen. Day to day spills resulting from washing up and cooking, if cleaned up within a reasonable amount of time, won’t cause damage to a good quality product.

Lower grade, or “bargain” products on the other end, won’t hold up to frequent exposure to moisture. These cheaper alternatives have lower core densities which absorb moisture faster when compared to high-end laminate floors with a high core density. This will eventually lead to peaking, and ultimately, to the floor failing.

It is important to note however that even good quality flooring can fail when exposed to excessive amounts of water. Leaking appliances, daily mopping with excessive water, or burst pipes and geysers will cause damage to any laminate flooring (or almost any other type of flooring). Before you install laminate flooring, it is important to check all your connections for signs of leaking. Slow leaks don’t immediately present themselves and when water has been slowly leaking into your floor over an extended period, it will be too late once the floor starts showing signs of damage.

Lastly. Because it is almost impossible to know if and when a pipe or geyser will burst, it may be a good idea to check your insurance policy and make sure that you are covered in such an unfortunate event.

To conclude. When choosing a laminate floor which will be partly, or fully installed in a kitchen, choose a high-end product, made by a reputable manufacturer, that is installed by a professional and qualified installer, like Carpet World Flooring.