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Photo by Talia Sweenor/Sweenor Builders Inc.


We will be renovating our bathroom soon but I want a “quick fix” now because I hate the ceramic tile floor’s color. I found a great sale on some Armstrong urethane that I’d like to install. What should I use for an underlayment? The salesperson suggested cement underlayment and patch. The back of the box of tile suggests that or an embossing leveler. Which one would be better?

— Arlene, Rochester Hills, MI

Tom Silva replies: A good quality vinyl floor is thick enough to be installed without an underlayment, which will only raise the level of the floor and give you headaches around built-in vanities, heat registers, baseboards, and other areas.

Your greatest concerns when installing a vinyl floor over the existing tile are the tile’s joints and the floor’s height.

  • Before you start, see if any tile is broken or damaged.
  • Once you’ve removed lose or broken pieces, patch the empty sections with a liquid cement or mortar, letting it settle level with the tile floor.
  • Next, if the tile’s joints are deep, you’ll want regrout them to bring them flush with the tile so that the lines won’t telegraph — show through — the vinyl floor.
  • Once the tile is leveled off, your next step is to remove the toilet so that the floor can be laid under it, not cut around it.