It’s understandable why you would want to lay DITRA over linoleum flooring. DITRA is one of the most effective uncoupling membranes that come in handy during tile installation.
If you have decided to install tile over linoleum, you may have some second thoughts because of how picky tiles are about the substrates they should be installed over.
This article will provide professional insight into whether DITRA can be used on a linoleum flooring substrate. I will also discuss some of the risks and how you can avoid them.
Does Schluter Recommend the Use of DITRA Over Linoleum?
Before you embark on any project, it’s always a good idea to inquire directly from the manufacturer. Schluter, the manufacturer of DITRA, recommends that it be installed on vinyl flooring, which is almost the same as linoleum.
However, they also warn against using DITRA on vinyl or linoleum floors that are cushioned or have multiple layers of linoleum.
If you are considering installing DITRA over linoleum, you have to confirm these two things. Are there multiple layers of linoleum? Because linoleum isn’t very easy to remove.
Some homeowners often lay new linoleum flooring over the old one. Secondly, some linoleum floorings may be cushioned to give that carpet-like feeling.
What Benefits Does One Get from Installing DITRA Over Linoleum?
The recommended method of tiling over linoleum requires the removal of this flooring. DITRA offers homeowners a shortcut that doesn’t require linoleum removal from the flooring substrate.
With DITRA providing its uncoupling benefits, the tiles won’t be affected by the movements within the linoleum. Also, DITRA promotes the adhesion of tiles to the floor, which won’t be possible if you tile directly to linoleum.
Removing linoleum flooring isn’t as easy as installing it. That’s why many homeowners prefer to tile directly over it.
Because there is a high risk of failure when you tile directly, the DITRA uncoupling membrane separates the tiles on the surface from the linoleum flooring, ensuring the project’s longevity.
The other reason people prefer to use DITRA over linoleum is that in most homes with this type of flooring, especially older properties.
There is a good chance that asbestos is present under the linoleum. Asbestos poses a health risk during removal. If you suspect there is asbestos under the linoleum, hire a professional contractor to help remove it.
Does the Condition of the Floor Beneath the Linoleum Matter?
When installing DITRA over a surface such as linoleum, you have to make plenty of checks. Besides the above factors, the condition of the floor beneath also determines whether you can or can’t tile over it.
As mentioned earlier, linoleum is typical in old homes. If there is wood flooring, it could have degraded over the years, and an uncoupling membrane such as DITRA won’t save you from the inevitable.
Even if the linoleum isn’t cushioned or stacked on multiple layers, the floor beneath has to be in excellent condition. It’s a good idea to peel a part of the floor and inspect the floor underneath.
Is It a Good Idea to Install DITRA Over Linoleum?
There are many risk factors involved with installing DITRA over linoleum. This is why I would recommend removing the linoleum altogether before installing tiles.
If you hire an expert contractor, they will tell you the same thing. However, I understand that many homeowners are reluctant to remove linoleum flooring because of the reasons stated earlier.
If the linoleum was installed over a wood floor, there could be huge voids on the floor whose movements would be no match for your DITRA uncoupling membrane.
Two, not everyone can identify whether linoleum is cushioned or not. If you install DITRA over a cushioned linoleum floor, that’s a recipe for disaster.
Thirdly, if the adhesive used to attach the linoleum to the floor is weak. There is a good chance that the linoleum can rip off together with the DITRA.
This project is surrounded by many buts, ifs, and maybes. Having an expert check whether this is a viable project is wise.
Can I Install Plywood Over Linoleum and then DITRA?
The more, the merrier. Adding plywood over linoleum will strengthen the structure and assist the DITRA with uncoupling the two surfaces.
If removing linoleum seems like a lot of work, you can add some plywood to the surface and install DITRA over it. Your floor may be thicker, but it will be more stable for tile installation.
How Long Will DITRA Last on Linoleum?
As long as you install DITRA as per the manufacturer guidelines and ensure the linoleum isn’t cushioned and neither are there multiple layers of the material on the floor, DITRA can last for as long as ten years.
DITRA is one of the best uncoupling membranes on the market. It allows each material to remain stuck together but act independently. The linoleum and substrate beneath may experience a lot of movement.
But as long as there is DITRA beneath linoleum and tiles, the latter should last incredibly long. Even though tiles will crack eventually, it will take a very long for that to happen.
Is Linoleum a Suitable Substrate for DITRA?
When you visit the manufacturer’s website, you will see a list of approved substrates for DITRA. Unfortunately, linoleum isn’t one of them.
That’s why there is a lot of uncertainty about using this uncoupling membrane over linoleum. However, Schluter gives a green light regarding the use of DITRA on linoleum as long as one adheres to specific requirements.
Will Ordinary Thinset Stick DITRA to Linoleum?
A while back, the most significant challenge people had with installing DITRA over linoleum was which adhesive you should use.
The good news is that nowadays, there are a couple of specialty thinset mortars that can be used to stick DITRA to linoleum. These special thinset mortars are stronger and guarantee a solid adhesive bond.
Should You Install DITRA Over Damaged Linoleum?
I would advise you not to. Linoleum that’s peeling or loosening up should first be removed before DITRA is installed on top.
For this project to work, the linoleum floor must be adequately bonded to the substrate. If it’s loose, the linoleum will fail in the long run. And can you guess what else it will peel off with?
Will DITRA Over Linoleum Lead to a Floor Height Problem?
Another thing that most DIY enthusiasts are often afraid of when installing an uncoupling membrane is floor height. If you are not careful, it’s very easy to cause a floor problem on flanges and doors.
The good news is that DITRA is 1/8″, and most linoleum floors are 1.5mm. Combining these two materials shouldn’t significantly change floor height or thickness.
How to Prepare Linoleum for DITRA?
DITRA uncoupling membrane should be installed on a clean and dry surface. Since linoleum isn’t a typical surface for DITRA installation, a couple of things must be done during preparation.
First, you need to ensure there are no sealers or waxes on the linoleum. The same applies to debris.
Secondly, linoleum floors that are shiny or smooth have to be roughed up first. Medium grit sandpaper can help with that.
The purpose of doing so is to ensure the thinset has something to bite on. If the linoleum surface is too smooth, the DITRA won’t be able to stick to the linoleum. Remember to use a linoleum-friendly thinset.
Do You Need to Add a Sublayer to Linoleum Before Installing DITRA?
This isn’t something most people would consider because adding another sub-layer is time-consuming, and you will need more resources.
However, an extra layer to the flooring would add stability, and, in this case, you can choose a substrate that is DITRA-friendly, such as concrete or plywood. It would guarantee better adhesion and more stability.
Can I Use Cement Board Instead of DITRA Over Linoleum?
A cement board can also be an option for tile installation over linoleum. A cement board is an ideal substrate for tile installation jobs.
Both options have pros and cons. DITRA is a waterproof uncoupling membrane. Therefore it will prevent the effect of linoleum movements on tiles. A Cement board, on the other hand, makes the surface more rigid and durable. Plus, it’s cheaper than DITRA.
You can use both options for tile installation over linoleum. But the alternative you settle on depends on the purpose you intend to achieve.
For instance, if you want to tile linoleum on a kitchen floor, DITRA would be the best choice because it’s waterproof. A cement board would be ideal for installation on areas with weak floors.
Is Removing Linoleum Very Difficult?
Not really. All these maybes can be avoided by removing old linoleum and installing DITRA on the floor, whether it’s made of wood or concrete.
To remove linoleum, you must first confirm that three is no asbestos. If it’s absent, the linoleum should be cut into strips using a knife. That makes it easier for you to pull it off.
Pulling linoleum from a floor may take some time, but it’s worth it. Any backing and adhesive left behind can be scraped off with a little bit of elbow grease. You can always use chemical solvents to get rid of stubborn adhesive stains.
If you have the time to remove the old linoleum, I would advise you to do so before installing DITRA and tiles over the substrate. This is the only way you can be assured the linoleum doesn’t affect the adhesion of DITRA to the substrate.