Step-by-Step Guide: How to Install Laminate Over Tile Flooring

Kenneth Wilson

If you feel like it’s time to improve the aesthetics of your home and your old tile floor has seen better days, then laying a laminate floor in its place is an ideal option.

The reason for this is that laminate is a type of floating floor, meaning it can be laid over various surfaces – ceramic tiles included. This saves you from having to chip away and remove those stubborn tiles, saving you lots of time, money, and effort. (Related: How To Remove Laminate Flooring? A Step-by-step Guide)

So, if you’re keen to find out how to install laminate directly over tile flooring, we’ve put together this handy step-by-step guide that tells you everything you need to know.

Can You Really Install Laminate Directly Over Tiles?

The answer is yes, you absolutely can. But there are a few things you need to consider before proceeding, including:

  • The condition of your tiles - Firstly, you need to consider the current condition of your tiles. If they are free from cracks and chips, then you can install laminate directly on top of the surface. If your tiles are damaged or uneven, you will need to repair and level the surface before continuing with a laminate floor installation.
  • The height of your floor - Before laying laminate on top of tiles, you need to consider the effect that doing so will have on the height of your floor. This is important because your floor needs to fit under door thresholds, transitions, and appliances. You will need to leave a height of 3/8 inch to allow your laminate to expand once laid. Ultimately, if you’re laying laminate directly on top of tiles, you should opt for a thin prefinished laminate.
  • The underlayment - Even if your tiles already sit on top of underlayment, you will probably need to add an additional layer on top of the tiles to serve the laminate, also known as a vapor barrier. This will help acoustics, temperature control and enable you to lay your laminate flooring nice and flat.

So, providing your tiles are in good condition, there is sufficient space to lay your laminate without affecting your door thresholds and appliances, and you have accounted for underlay, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t install laminate directly on top of tiles. And here’s how to go about it.

Seven Steps to Install Laminate Directly on a Tile Floor

The good news is that you don’t need to spend days chipping away at your stubborn tiles, as you can lay your floating laminate floor directly on top. To help you install laminate yourself, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow seven-step guide below. Happy laying!

Step 1: Acclimate Your Laminate and Prepare the Area 

Your first job is to pick up your laminate floor at least 48 hours before you plan to lay it. You should then store it in the garage or in another room in your home, so it can acclimate. The ideal temperature for laminate is 64F with 40-70% humidity. You should stack the boxes of your unopened laminate on top of one another in a suitable room until you’re ready to lay it.

It’s then time to move out all furniture from your room and prepare the area for the new floor. You should also remove the baseboards at this stage.

Step 2: Put Down a Vapor Barrier 

Now that the area you’re going to work on is clear and your laminate is at hand, you will need to put down a vapor barrier before you lay your laminate on top of tiles. The vapor barrier acts as an effective layer of underlayment and should be made of a material such as polyethylene or something similar, and a thickness of 6mil is the minimum recommended.

You should lay your vapor barrier from one end of your room to the next, so make sure you order a roll that is big enough to cover the entire space.

Step 3: Start Laying Your Laminate Floor 

Choose a corner of your room to start in and begin laying your laminate floor from left to right. You should begin by laying the first plank with the long edge tongue facing the wall before proceeding from there. To lay the second plank, lift it to a thirty-degree angle and place its short end tongue into the groove of the first plank – a little like completing a jigsaw puzzle!

When the first two planks have locked together, you can then complete your first row along the wall. You can then start on your second row and work your way across the room. Things will get easier as you progress across the surface!

Step 4: Complete the Initial Laying of Your Laminate Floor

As you progress across your tiled floor, you will probably be wondering what to do when you come to the edges. It’s important that the piece of laminate that is closest to the wall is no shorter than 16”. You will need to use a miter saw to cut straight pieces to fit your space, while a jigsaw is probably required for corner cuts.

Throughout the installation of your laminate floor, be mindful of the 3/8 inch space you need to leave for the product to expand after it has been laid. This is particularly important around the edges of your floor and as you approach the doors and appliances.

Step 5: Create a Moisture Barrier Around the Edges of the Floor

Once you have laid your laminate flooring on top of the tiles, it’s time to add a moisture barrier around the edges of the floor. The best product for this is 100% silicone caulking, which should be installed around all the edges and at any transition point.

If you’ve never used silicone caulking before, you will be surprised at how sticky and messy it can be! As such, if you accidentally apply some to your laminate, it’s important to wipe it up with a damp cloth right away, so it doesn’t affect the aesthetics of the floor.

You will then need to wait for your caulking to dry, which can take several hours, depending on the temperature within your home.

Step 6: Install and Paint Your Baseboards 

If you ripped out the original baseboards before laying your laminate floor, it’s now time to replace them. It’s up to you how you install your baseboards, but a combination of wood fill and acrylic caulking should do the trick.

You will need to make sure you install your baseboards on top of your vapor barrier, and you can use painters’ tape above your baseboards when you’re adding the caulking. This will provide you with a nice crisp line and will prevent the caulking from spoiling your walls or floor.

Leave the caulking to dry for several hours, and then set about painting your baseboards. Caution: do everything you can to prevent paint from spilling on your new laminate floor! Painters’ tape might not be sufficient, so it’s a good idea to cover your entire floor with mats or other protective covers to save your new laminate from paint.

Step 7: Return Your Furniture and Enjoy Your New Floor 

All that’s left to do is to return your furniture to your room and to enjoy your new floor! One of the best things about laying laminate flooring is that you don’t need to worry about long curing or setting times. You can jump straight on it and get back to business as usual.

Hiring a Professional to Lay Your Laminate Floor 

While laying a laminate floor on top of tiles isn’t overly difficult when compared to laying other types of floor, it’s fair to say that not everyone will be confident enough in their skills to lay an entire floor without any help.

If that resonates with you, it’s more than possible to hire a professional to lay your laminate floor. And while the price you pay depends on where you live and the type of laminate to be laid, you can expect to pay to pay between $4 - $8 per square foot to hire someone to lay your floor.

It stands to reason, then, that laying a laminate floor yourself will save you a huge amount of money and free up some funds to undertake various other home improvement projects.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you can now see that laying a laminate floor on top of tiles is more than possible. Providing you follow the steps listed above, you should encounter very few issues with your DIY project, but if you don’t feel confident enough to take the project on, it’s best to hire a professional to help you.

Kenneth Wilson
December 22, 2021
Contractor Tips, Flooring

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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