Tiling onto wood

Because wooden floors naturally bend, bounce and expand, tiles can end up cracking under the pressure if installed incorrectly. Tiling onto wood is all about ensuring there is enough rigidity in the wooden subfloor and selecting the correct flexible tile adhesive.

Depending on the type of wooden floor being tiled onto, this guide will help you to find the most appropriate solution for laying tiles.

Common issues and queries you can face

General deflection due to the applied load (bounce)

General deflection due to the applied load

The floor will deflect according to the load applied and the stiffness of the structure (joint size, spacing etc). If the adhesive is not flexible or laid thick enough to absorb the amount of movement, the tiles will either delaminate or crack. Large tiles will exacerbate the deflection across each tile's width.

Localised movement at unsupported board joints (creak)

Localised movement at unsupported board joints

Any inadequately supported joint will cause a highly localised movement which can crack tiles. Joints may be supported by joists, noggings, or the tongue/groove of each board beneath.

Temperature related expansion and contraction

Temperature related expansion and contraction

Wood expands and contracts with changes in ambient temperature at a different rate to mortars, ceramics and stones. As a further complication, timber expands much more across the grain than it does along the grain (this is not really a factor with manufactured boards such as plywood).

Moisture/humidity related expansion and contraction

Moisture/humidity related expansion & contraction

Wood swells if it gets wet even with changes in atmospheric humidity. This can be a problem in potentially wet areas such as showers and bathrooms and also if the wood is not dry when installed (e.g. if it has been kept outside).