Seal plywood before tiling: How to Tile onto Plywood – Tile Choice

How to Lay Tile on a Plywood Subfloor


Lee Wallender

Lee Wallender

Lee has over two decades of hands-on experience remodeling, fixing, and improving homes, and has been providing home improvement advice for over 13 years.

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Updated on 04/28/23

Reviewed by

Deane Biermeier

Reviewed by
Deane Biermeier

Deane Biermeier is an expert contractor with nearly 30 years of experience in all types of home repair, maintenance, and remodeling. He is a certified lead carpenter and also holds a certification from the EPA. Deane is a member of The Spruce’s Home Improvement Review Board.

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Fact checked by

Sarah Scott

Fact checked by
Sarah Scott

Sarah Scott is a fact-checker and researcher who has worked in the custom home building industry in sales, marketing, and design.

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Project Overview

Installing tile on plywood is possible. But you need to take a few precautions to make sure that the plywood does not crack the tile. Follow these steps for installing and using plywood as a substrate for ceramic, glass, stone, or porcelain tile.

Why Tile Must be Uncoupled from Plywood

When installing tile, having a solid and tight substrate (or base) that will not shift, expand, or contract is critical. The most skillfully laid tile floor can be ruined with a base that is not dimensionally stable.

Many other types of floor coverings, such as laminate or luxury vinyl tile, have more flex and are more forgiving. But ceramic, porcelain, and glass tile, along with their service components of thinset and grout, are far too fragile to withstand even the slightest substrate movement.

That is where plywood comes into the picture. Plywood and tile are dissimilar materials—one is wood and the other is clay—so they will expand and contract at different rates. Plywood is remarkably dimensionally stable. Even so, it’s not stable enough for tile. Even concrete is not a suitable base for tile; concrete must be uncoupled from the tile.

Add an uncoupling material to the substrate to successfully install tile on plywood.

Uncoupling Membrane for Tile and Plywood

Schluter-Ditra is one popular brand of membrane. A tight, unmoving bond between mortar and subfloor causes cracking. An uncoupling membrane does exactly what the name says: it uncouples, or releases, the bond between plywood and tile mortar, allowing each surface to move independently of the other. In addition, uncoupling tile membranes prevent moisture from infiltrating surfaces below.

One downside with uncoupling membranes is that they do add height to the installation, as you have two layers of thinset plus the membrane. But a positive of uncoupling membrane is that it adds less height to the stack than if you had used cement board as an uncoupling material.

Equipment / Tools

  • Cordless drill
  • Notched trowel
  • Rubber float
  • Sponges
  • Bucket


  • Plywood sheets
  • Modified thinset mortar
  • Unmodified thinset mortar
  • Plywood screws
  • Uncoupling membrane
  • Ceramic or porcelain tile
  • Tile spacers
  • Grout
  • Grout haze remover
  1. Install an Intervening Sheet of Plywood

    Install an intervening sheet of thinner plywood on top of the subfloor plywood. Do not install tile directly on the plywood subfloor itself. 


    Exterior grade or plywood should be used for the substrate. Never use veneer-bond plywood.

  2. Leave a Proper Gap Between the Boards

    Leave a 1/16-inch gap for the joints to allow for expansion and contraction. If you leave no gap between boards, the edges of two adjacent sheets of plywood may press against each other and deform when the plywood expands. Leaving a gap allows for this inevitable expansion.

  3. Screw the Plywood Down

    The top layer of plywood should be screwed down every 8 inches on the edge and every 6 inches in the field, or interior, section. Make sure that all screw heads are screwed flush with the level of the plywood. If the plywood flexes, add more screws to the boards. If that doesn’t do it, then the floor joists may be faulty. Shoring up the joists from below by sistering them with 2x10s or 2x8s is one way to strengthen joists.


    Joints of the top layer should be well away from the joints of the bottom layer. Avoid having two joints on top of each other.

  4. Trowel On the Modified Thinset

    Use the notched trowel to apply thinset to the plywood. Be sure to use a modified thinset mortar for this first layer.

  5. Lay Down the Membrane

    Press the uncoupling membrane into the wet thinset. Do not let the thinset dry; work quickly.

  6. Trowel on the Unmodified Thinset

    Switch batches in the bucket from modified thinset to unmodified thinset. Use the notched trowel to apply the unmodified thinset to the top of the uncoupling membrane.

  7. Install the Tile

    Apply the tile to the layer of unmodified thinset. Use plastic tile spacers to keep the tiles separate.

  8. Apply the Grout

    Use the rubber float to apply the grout to the surface of the tile. Pull the grout in long sweeps diagonally across the tile. Remove as much grout as possible from the tile. Be careful not to dig into the grout between the seams.

  9. Remove the Grout Haze

    Mix grout haze remover in a clean bucket. Apply the haze remover with a sponge to remove the haze from the tile.

Tips for Installing Tile on Plywood

Use High-latex Thinset

Thinset is the wet base that you first trowel on the plywood to make the tile stick. Higher latex content is essential for bonding to plywood. A quality unmodified thinset should be used and mixed with a latex additive.

Test the Plywood for Flex

After you lay the plywood, check it for deflection with this simple test. Set a dinner plate on the plywood. Set a cereal bowl on the plate. With a separate container, fill the bowl to the rim. Then, walk on the plywood around the bowl. You should see some ripples from vibration, but the water should not spill onto the plate.

Sink the Screws Properly

When screwing down the top layer, make sure that you are screwing no farther than the bottom layer of plywood. Driving screws all the way down to the joists negates the effect of double layering the floor by transmitting the movement from the joists directly to the top layer of plywood.

Cement Board as a Plywood Alternative

An alternative to installing an uncoupling membrane is to install tile on top of a cement backerboard such as Durock, Wonderboard, or HardieBacker.

Backerboard does not shrink or expand when it comes into contact with water (mortar and grout both contain water). Even though exterior grade plywood is designed to stand up to harsh weather, nothing can tolerate moisture better than a product that is entirely composed of minerals (cement board) as opposed to an organic product (plywood).

Cement board will not cure floor deflection, but it will provide an optimal surface for tiling by bonding and filling. First, cement backerboard is the perfect bonding surface for the thinset because of its porous texture. Second, cement board helps with filling.

When you lay the cement board on plywood, you will trowel thinset between the two surfaces. The cement board smooths over imperfections in the plywood, and the thinset below the cement board will fill in voids.

Can You Lay Tile Directly Over a Plywood Subfloor?

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Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny’s expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS’s The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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by Danny Lipford


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I’m tiling an upstairs bathroom. The floor is plywood, and I’m hesitant about using Hardie backer board because the height of the floor will be too high. Can you tile directly to plywood with thinset? —Chris

Hi Chris,

While you can lay tile directly over a concrete slab using thin-set adhesive, don’t make the mistake of applying tile directly to a plywood subfloor. No matter how firm the subfloor; the plywood will expand and contract at a different rate as the tile, causing cracks to develop in the grout lines or tiles over time.

On a plywood subfloor, you need either a layer of cement backer board or an underlayment membrane, like Custom Building Products’ Wonderboard and RedGard, between the subfloor and tile for the thin-set adhesive to achieve a good bond.

While I prefer using 1/2” cement backer board over a plywood subfloor, you may be able to get by with 1/4” backer board instead. Even if you use a waterproof underlayment membrane, the floor will still be either 1/4″ or 1/2” higher than the subfloor, plus the thickness of the tile and adhesive.

When applying cement backer board over a plywood subfloor, be sure to adhere the two surfaces together with thin-set adhesive; and screw the cement backer board down with special screws that countersink into the backer board, such as Backer-On screws available at The Home Depot.

Good luck with your project,

Editorial Contributors

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny’s expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS’s The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

Learn More

How to prime plywood before laying tiles

Home » Miscellaneous » How to prime plywood before laying tiles

Is it possible to lay tiles on plywood and how to do it yourself?

Without fail, laying tiles is carried out on a prepared base. In its role is the floor or wall, which must first be leveled. It should be noted that today there are quite a lot of leveling methods, and one of these is laying plywood. Thus, laying tiles on plywood becomes an urgent issue, and to be honest, the technology of this process.

Advantages and disadvantages of coating

We recommend that you read more about floor leveling with a screed).

Let’s start with the advantages:

  1. The first is the low cost of such coverage.
  2. You can also note the speed of installation. Which requires less effort and time.
  3. The next advantage is the absence of construction debris.
  4. Significantly reduces the load on the floor in contrast to the screed.
  5. The plywood lining itself is quite durable and strong.

But do not forget about the disadvantages:

  1. First of all, you need to choose the right type of material, which is sometimes quite difficult. Thus, for work you will need sheets of plywood of at least 2.2 centimeters.
  2. For rooms with very high levels of humidity, it will be necessary to provide additional waterproofing, respectively, this increases the cost of the coating.
  3. And the last is a strict ban on the arrangement of the “warm floor” system.

That is why this technology is rarely used. Although it can be quite good for arranging floors in a kitchen or hallway. In general, in those rooms where repairs are required as quickly as possible, and it is desirable to litter as little as possible.

Features of laying tiles

The first question that often arises is whether it is possible to lay tiles on plywood. And all the experts answer only yes. Of course, as with any other installation, in this case there are a number of difficulties. Therefore, it can be immediately noted that the process of such laying tiles on plywood is quite laborious and must be approached responsibly.

It should be noted that plywood is divided into moisture resistant and ordinary plywood, which is not suitable for wet work.

First of all, you need to carefully prepare the surface. This is largely due to the characteristics of the tile, and in particular the fact that its weight is much greater than that of other types of coating. That is why you should check the surface for strength. In no case can plywood itself have low strength.

The ideal option for , of course, would be laying tiles on GVL sheets, which have moisture-resistant properties and less mobility

It is even possible to use OSB sheets for laying tiles, which are more suitable and, due to their structure, will serve as a solid foundation.


Detailed information on leveling the OSB floor by joists

In addition, as mentioned earlier, the thickness of the sheets must be at least 22 millimeters.

Each sheet must be securely fastened and pressed against the base. Otherwise, if any deflections or distortions are observed, the coating will last quite a bit.

When laying plywood on logs, it is necessary to ensure a step of no more than 30 centimeters. At a higher value, redesign the structure.

And regarding the lag, it should be noted that in this situation the thickness of the sheets should not be less than three centimeters.

Preparing for work

Before starting work, it is necessary to carefully prepare, check the availability of all necessary materials and tools.

Also calculate the adhesive mixture and the number of tiles. In the case of tiles, it is necessary to take into account the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe room, the size of the joints and the size of the tile itself. In addition, the presence of a pattern and a method of laying. To calculate, you can use the tile adhesive calculator on our website.

Speaking of the adhesive mixture, its quantity should be calculated based on the consumption indicated on the package, you can find out how to choose the adhesive mixture and calculate its quantity in a separate article.

The following tools and materials are needed directly for the work:

  1. Sander for working with plywood.
  2. Waterproofing material (mainly film).
  3. Primer.
  4. If necessary, special adhesive.
  5. Also, for marking, a ruler, pencil and tape measure.
  6. Self-tapping screws.
  7. Tiles.
  8. Tile adhesive.
  9. Grout and crosses.

The surface is then sanded and cleaned. The tightness is checked. If necessary, additional fixing with self-tapping screws is provided. Strictly there should be no gaps or deflections of the sheets.

Upon completion of the test, prime the surface. Usually the primer is applied in several layers (2-3). Each of them must dry completely, which, depending on the type of primer, takes from 5 to 12 hours.

Do-it-yourself laying tiles on plywood

Let’s dwell a little on the recommendations for choosing an adhesive, after which we will go directly to the question of how to lay tiles on plywood.

In this case, it is recommended to use adhesive mixtures, which are characterized by an increased level of elasticity, since wood is a mobile material. It is in this situation that such a mixture is most optimal, since plywood can be somewhat transformed under the load from the tile. And besides, such material does not tolerate moisture and temperature changes.

The best option would be a polyurethane adhesive, which is often used when laying parquet. It is this mixture that will be most effective.

Another advantage is that the surface can be walked on within an hour. That is due to the short setting time.

Silane based compounds are another good option. This adhesive is recommended for use in wet areas, as it easily sets even when exposed to moisture. At the same time, the same moisture is completely removed from the surface.

Thanks to the use of this type of mixture, the tiles will lie perfectly, and the joints will be flexible and elastic, which is very important.


Having finished with the preparation, you can go directly to the question of how to lay tiles on plywood on the floor. This process is carried out according to the following technology:

  1. Laying tiles on a plywood floor starts from the corner of the room. The first tile is laid whole, the adhesive mixture is applied in an even layer both on the surface of the base and on the tile.
  2. As with normal laying, the whole lengths are laid out first, and the cut pieces last (more on how to lay the tiles on the floor).
  3. Note that the maximum coverage area at one time should not exceed a square meter.
  4. Apply the adhesive with a notched trowel. After that, the tile is firmly pressed to the base. Further, it is leveled in level and adheres to for several minutes, until the solution sets.
  5. Installation of subsequent elements is also carried out when laying tiles on plywood on the floor.
  6. Special crosses are used to create seams, which help to make them uniform (we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the issue of crosses and seam thickness in more detail).
  7. When the whole sections are laid, the remaining pieces are cut and laid.
  8. The next process, in case of passing pipes, or considering how to lay tiles on plywood on a wall, is the preparation of holes for communication systems, switches, etc. (More on how to drill tiles).
  9. The last step is grouting. And here the choice of grout and its application becomes an important issue.

This completes the installation, and you can admire the results of your labors.

What you need to know about laying tiles on plywood

Finally, here are some tips and tricks that will be of great help, especially for beginner tilers:

  1. not less than 2.2 cm, it is possible to use several layers, otherwise the coating will not withstand the weight of the tile.
  2. It is recommended to provide additional fixation with self-tapping screws for a better fit of the coating.
  3. Be sure to use a strong primer before tiling the base to help ensure the stability of the plywood.
  4. Always use a spirit level when working. In addition, the laying itself is recommended to start from the far corner from the door.
  5. Care must be taken to ensure that all seams are the same size. For this, crosses or special systems for laying tiles are used.
  6. At the end of the job, the choice of grout and its execution becomes an important factor, since it is this that has the greatest influence on the appearance of the coating.

At this point, the question of how to lay floor tiles on plywood can be considered closed. Strictly following the instructions and recommendations, you will be able to do the installation yourself. And for a better understanding of the topic, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the videos below.

The article was specially written for the site




How to prime plywood for thin mortar 900 05

Plywood floor must be properly primed and prepared for fine styling.

Thin-bed mortar is the primary method of laying ceramic or stone tiles on new surfaces, acting as a cement to bond the tiles to their new home. Most tiles are approved for installation on solid plywood floors, but before you can lay out a thin layer and lay the tiles, you need to prepare the plywood to make sure it is compatible with the adhesive. Improper priming and preparation can result in cracks, bumps, or slopes. on a tiled floor, which can eventually become a serious hazard to pedestrians.


How to prepare plywood for tiles | Home Guides

For a tile floor to last for many years, the tile must have an even, solid base. In other words, if you are laying tiles on plywood, the subfloor must support the weight of the tiles. You may need to add an extra layer of plywood to create a subfloor at least 1 1/4 inches thick. To keep moisture from seeping through tiled floors and damaging wood screed, install a protective layer of 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick cement bead protector before installing tiles over wood.

Measure and cut 5/8″ to 3/4″ plywood with a circular saw to cover the subfloor and finish it to 1 1/4″ thickness.

Secure the plywood with screws set 6″ in the center of the perimeter of the sheets and 8″ in the center of the center of the plywood sheet. Each screw must be installed below the surface of the plywood.

Measure and cut the cement base plate to cover the floor. Use a circular saw to cut the backing board outdoors where there will be less mess to clean or cut it by running a utility knife over the ruler a few times to score and break the backing board.

Apply thin adhesive with a 1/4 in. notched trowel to the plywood subfloor. Insert the lining pieces into the adhesive. Lay out the pieces so the patron board and plywood joints do not match up. Zigzag patron board joints as well. Leave a gap of 1/8 inch between the lining sheets. Leave a 1/4 inch expansion gap around the perimeter of the room.

Secure the support board with screws 1/2″ to 2″ from the edge of the room and 6″ to 8″ apart. Install all screw heads below the surface of the board protector.

Fill the gaps in the base plate with a thin layer using the flat side of a notched trowel. Blend the edges so that they protrude 1 1/2 inches from each side of the seam. Apply a thin layer to each screw head.

Lay fiberglass tape in a thin layer along the seams of the lining. Smooth the tape into place with the edge of the spatula.

Cover the tape with another thin layer of thin film. Blend the edges to make the joints as smooth as possible. Allow the mortar to dry before tiling.


Does tile work on plywood? | Home

Lee Carroll Updated December 14, 2018

Plywood provides a smooth base for peeling tiles. Because plywood is porous and is laid into sheets to create a subfloor, some preparation is needed. Lauan is not strong enough even when installed on another plywood floor. Any other plywood that is at least 1/4″ thick will work, providing a smooth and even result.

Fixing plywood

If you are installing new plywood, use galvanized screws to secure it and countersink the screw heads. Loose areas on an existing plywood subfloor can cause tiles to come off over time. Walk across the floor to see if the underfoot areas are soft and secure with screws. If any edges between plywood sheets are uneven, add one or two screws to pull the top sheet down to the plane of the next one. If this does not help, sand the edge with coarse sandpaper. In damp areas such as bathrooms, a raised edge may indicate swelling due to water damage. Plywood warps when wet and does not return to its original shape when dry. It is best to remove the damaged sheet and replace it.


A latex paint-like primer that seals the plywood and helps the tiles adhere better to the surface. Before applying the primer, apply a leveling compound to the seams and recesses of the screw holes, scraping off the excess with a spatula or spatula. This composition is based on cement and when mixed with water turns into a paste. When the mixture dries, vacuum the floor to remove sand and fine particles. In a small room, you can prime the floor with a hand-held paint roller. If the room is large, add an extension to the roller handle to protect your back and knees. For the first coat, mix 3 parts water-based primer with 1 part water to help the primer penetrate the wood better. Two layers are enough, the second is applied in full force.


Peelable and sticky tiles come in many varieties; some of them are elastic and flexible, others are quite rigid. Let the tiles sit in the room where you intend to install them for at least 24 hours to allow them to adjust to the temperature. Marking the plywood floor with an intersecting chalk line will help keep the rows even and even. The tile has a plastic or shiny paper backing that peels off to reveal the adhesive. If some of the adhesive peels off along with the paper, you will need a new tile. Even a small area without adhesive can weaken the tile over time. When the adhesive is open, place one edge of the tile on the floor, lay it down gently and press down with your hands. A vinyl flooring knife cuts edge tiles better than a utility knife.

Tile Roller

Tile Roller with 75 to 100 lb. floor roller helps each tile make maximum contact with the primed plywood, increasing the life of the floor. The floor rollers have a heavy cylinder at the bottom and a long handle to guide it. They are used to press linoleum, sheet vinyl, and vinyl tile, and you can rent one from some homes. The weight and size of the roller can make it difficult to transport and use the roller for some homeowners. A kitchen rolling pin is a good substitute for smaller floors. Kneeling with your hands on the rolling pin handles, roll the rolling pin across the tile with force.


How to use plywood to repair sloping floors | House Manuals

Wood floor installers sometimes encounter sloping subfloors when working in older homes. Usually the cause is foundation subsidence, and slope repairs may not be effective. Laying the floor on a sloping subfloor is not acceptable if you don’t like the idea of ​​sliding furniture, so the usual procedure is to level the slope. Slopes in the direction of the floorboards are easier to handle than slopes in the perpendicular direction and can be corrected with both plywood and roof tiles. Correcting a sharp slope in the perpendicular direction requires an additional layer of plywood throughout the floor.

Slope parallel to the direction of the board

Determine the angle of inclination and its amount using a string, a level and a ruler. Attach the cord to the baseboard on one side of the room with a nail and run it to the opposite side. Put a level on the rope, pull it taut and center the bubble, then attach the other end of the rope to the wall.

Measure the distance between the rope and the floor by moving the ruler from one side of the room to the other. Mark the pitch in inches with a pencil directly on the subfloor at regular intervals along the rope. Repeat this procedure in several places between the two walls.

Fill gaps 3/8 inch or less with roof tiles. The shingle is about 1/8 inch thick and you can stack three of them without fear of loosening the grip of the floor nails.

Place strips of plywood across the floor to fill in deeper slopes, increasing the thickness of the plywood at regular intervals to correct the slope. For example, fill in a 1″ slope at 8 feet by placing a 12″ strip of 3/8″ plywood at the point where the slope is so deep. This is followed by a strip of 1/2″ plywood at the 1/2″ mark, a strip of 3/4″ plywood at the 3/4″ mark, and two layered strips of 1/2″ plywood at the 3/4″ mark. 1 inch mark.

Apply construction adhesive to the back of the plywood before laying it down and screw it to the subfloor with 1 1/2″ galvanized wood screws. It is important to glue the plywood because it needs to hold the floor nails. They do not penetrate deep enough to bite into the original subfloor.

Slope perpendicular to board direction

Determine the amount of slope between opposite walls using a spirit level and ruler. Mark the slopes on the subfloor.

Reinforce the subfloor with shingles and plywood to level it just as if the slope were parallel to the direction of the board. We glue and fasten the plywood.

Cover the underlay subfloor with 3/8″ plywood to create a flat, level surface. This part of the procedure is different from leveling the floor if the slope is parallel to the floorboards. This plywood is needed to eliminate gaps between washers that can cause board warping. Fasten the plywood with 1 1/2″ zinc plated screws.


See also

  • How to return the desktop tile to the start menu on windows 10
  • How to stick tiles on the wall
  • Tiles on the floor wobble how to fix
  • How to choose ceramic bathroom tiles
  • How to lay tiles in a sloping sink
  • How to finish the walls in the toilet without tiles
  • How to clean tile grout
  • How to choose the right stealth hatch for tiles
  • How to glue tiles on gypsum board
  • How to remove green paint from tiles
  • How to beautifully tile a bathroom

Tips for working with tiles and ceramics.

Installation conditions on plywood base

Ceramics, laid on a drywall surface, does not cause difficulties during work and holds quite firmly. However, a number of additional procedures must be performed to ensure an excellent result. First of all, this is the processing of joints of drywall sheets with putty, which can increase the integrity of the finished structure. Then a primer of the finished surface is required, which will ensure excellent adhesion to ceramics.

At a distance of 40 cm, when working, it is necessary to put down guides so that the drywall does not move from the starting point after the adhesive has dried. It is worth considering the thickness of the sheets: guides are installed more often if the drywall is thin. As a fastener, not only construction adhesive with high elasticity is used, but also water-dispersion liquid nails, as well as tile adhesive with a cement base. It is worth considering that the use of the last two methods is not always economically justified.

Wood gluing

Ceramic tiles are laid on a wooden floor in different ways, the choice of which depends on the condition of the surface and the conditions in the room where the work is planned to be carried out. One of them when laying directly on the wood:

  • Careful strengthening of the surface so that there are no vibrations under loads.
  • The next step is a primer, which often uses formulations designed for non-absorbent materials.
  • Application of an elastic self-levelling compound.
  • Ceramic bonding. You can purchase liquid nails that allow you to glue tiles to wood, or an elastic adhesive.

When using liquid nails, the surface must be carefully prepared: clean, dry, degrease. Using this universal adhesive allows you to quickly and effortlessly bond various finishing materials, including wood and ceramics, without laying the screed.

The composition dries from half a day to a day, it all depends on how thick the layer of the substance is applied and what are the temperature and humidity parameters in the room. If the ceramic is heavy, then liquid nails should be applied in a spiral, with a small weight of the material – in dots.

Another common way to bond wood to tiles is to install a metal grate on a wood surface. The metal mesh is nailed, and then the structure is poured with a thin layer of screed, which keeps the surface from vibrating. The technology for laying tiles after the screed has completely dried is similar to the scheme for gluing onto a concrete screed.

Ceramics on plywood

Before starting work on gluing ceramics to plywood, the base must be carefully strengthened in order to avoid further damage to the tiles due to micro-vibrations. If this is not done, then the tile will not hold on to the surface under heavy loads. For work, plywood should be used, the thickness of which is at least 25 mm.

The sequence of work is as follows:

  • Surface priming. It is advisable to repeat this step several times. Each coat must dry well before the next is applied.
  • Adhesive selection. The composition is best to buy with a high rate of elasticity. Only when using such an adhesive can an excellent result be achieved, in which ceramics will not crack under mechanical stress.
  • Bonding tiles to plywood.

Experienced craftsmen use compositions with a two-component base when working. They are divided into polyurethane and with epoxy resins in the composition. The advantages of formulations with two components are excellent waterproofing performance and bonding strength.

It is best to choose two-component, resilient brands for bonding plywood and ceramics.

Two-component ceramic and wood adhesive

Elastic adhesives, which include polyurethane resin and hardener, have high adhesive parameters. When working with this substance, both components must be mixed until a homogeneous mass is obtained, using a drill with a mixing nozzle or a mixer. Only after this procedure, the mixture is ready for application to a wooden surface.

Do not hesitate to bond the ceramic, as the compound is suitable for use within a maximum of 1 hour from the date of manufacture. On the packaging, manufacturers indicate information about almost instant gluing, but it is better to play it safe and wait a few days (2-3 days) to get a guaranteed excellent result.

When working, it is recommended to use a two-component composition due to the different properties of materials – ceramics and wood, which change their dimensions relative to each other. This happens for various reasons: fluctuations in temperature or changes in humidity levels in the working room. If an adhesive is chosen that cannot adapt to the characteristics of the materials under consideration, then visible and invisible damage cannot be ruled out. The latter are especially dangerous, since if they are detected late, you will have to start work again, and this leads not only to time, but also to significant financial costs.

Only at the initial stage of working with materials should a suitable type of adhesive be selected. This will make it possible to determine with accuracy whether the ceramics adhere well, and whether the wood is deformed under the influence of vibrations and heavy loads.

Other methods of gluing tiles

While bonding ceramics to drywall, plywood, or wood is excellent when using high-strength adhesives or liquid nails, there are other ways to achieve the desired goal without further material loss. These include the following:

  • Use of silicone based sealant. Gives a good result, allowing you not to be afraid for the integrity of the surface during micro-oscillations.
  • Application of tile mortar. If you use drywall (attracted to the tree by means of self-tapping screws) as an auxiliary layer between the tree and the tile, then the bonding strength will be high. Masters are not advised to be guided by the method for performing work in the kitchen, as quite a lot of dust is generated.
  • Application of putty based on acrylic in a dotted way. The composition is similar in properties to liquid nails.
  • Using PVA glue. Not recommended when working with thin wood due to its deformation due to moisture. Suitable for gluing to wood with a large thickness.

When choosing a technology for gluing tiles to wood, drywall or plywood, special attention should be paid to the compositions with which the surfaces adhere. In this matter, you should not save, the glue must fully comply with the requirements of working with the selected materials.

The use of ceramic tiles for flooring is very popular. Such material is durable, practical and has an attractive appearance. True, in order to lay tiles, it is desirable to have a perfectly even base. To achieve this, plywood is often used. The result is a flat surface, the tile lays down neatly and easily, however, if you know all the nuances of such work. Laying tiles on plywood on the floor has its own characteristics. It is about them that will be discussed in this article.

Why choose plywood

Some decorators rarely use plywood. This material, in their opinion, does not have such strength as a concrete screed. But plywood has one indisputable advantage – it is the simplicity and speed of installation. There is no need to knead the solution, fill it in and wait for almost a month until the screed hardens. It is enough to lay the sheet, and you can continue to work.

It is very important to choose the right material. Moisture resistant plywood must be used for laying tiles. Most often it turns out to be a veneered variety. It costs a little more than usual. It should also be remembered that the thickness of the sheet should be in the range of 20–30 mm. But otherwise, subject to all the rules, using plywood as a base for laying tiles is quite acceptable.

Preparing the base for tiles

Before you start laying the plywood sheets, it is worth doing some preparatory work. Namely:

  • remove old floor finish;
  • clean the base from dirt and dust;
  • to seal cracks and joints between floor and walls. This is done using a sand-cement mortar;
  • if the draft floor is wooden, then it is necessary to cover it with an antiseptic;
  • install beacons using a spirit level. Alternatively, a line can be used, which is drawn on the wall around the entire perimeter of the room. It will display the level at which the plywood sheets should be installed.

An adhesive is used to mount the plywood. Using a notched trowel, the adhesive mass is applied to the base in the place where the first sheet will be laid. The plywood itself must be degreased and cleaned of contaminants before laying. After laying the sheet in place, it is tapped with a mallet and slightly moved from side to side. Such “maneuvers” will allow the glue to grab better.

The sheet must be aligned horizontally, checking the position with a spirit level. You can adjust the position of the sheets using the thickness of the adhesive mass. If the irregularities are too large, then you can use wooden bars or pieces of plywood. But they must be firmly fixed on the subfloor.

After laying the first sheet, proceed to the next. At the same time, a gap must be left between them.

Pay attention! If laying is carried out in a warm room, then the width of the seam should be within 1-2 mm.

After gluing the sheet, holes are made in it for additional fixing with dowels to the concrete floor. The number of holes will depend on the size of the plywood, but there must be at least four of them. On a wooden base, plywood can be fixed with self-tapping screws.

It is sometimes difficult to find plywood of suitable thickness. In this case, two sheets can be glued together. Such a base will be more reliable and eliminate the possible delamination of the tile.

The next step will be sanding and dusting. Then a primer should be applied. There must be at least two such layers. If work is carried out in a room with high humidity (for example, in a bathroom), then a layer of waterproofing is required. After that, you can start laying the tiles, of course, allowing the primer to dry.

How to install

Now let’s talk about how to lay tiles on plywood on the floor. In principle, there are no special differences from mounting on a conventional concrete screed. First, the adhesive solution is mixed, it can be two-component or silicone-based. The volume of each portion should be enough for 1–1.5 m 2 of laid tiles. It’s not worth doing anymore. The glue hardens in an hour, and during this time it will be possible to lay no more than one and a half square meters of tiles.

Work can be started both from the far corner of the room and from the middle. Everything will depend on your skills and the configuration of the room. But in any case, you should first perform the layout on a dry one. Thanks to this, you can avoid a lot of undercuts.

Pay attention! During laying, horizontality should be monitored. For this, a building level of at least one meter in length is used. That will be more accurate. To level the tiles, you can change the thickness of the adhesive layer.

When laying, plastic crosses are used, which are inserted between the tiles. With their help, achieve the same width of the seams.

After all the tiles have been laid, it is necessary to wait until the adhesive mass has completely hardened. As a rule, one or two days will be enough. Only after that you can start grouting the seams.


This video shows how tiles are laid on plywood:


Having started an independent repair, it is not always possible to foresee all its nuances. Sometimes this process becomes unpredictable due to various circumstances and surprises us. It happens that sometimes the performance of a particular type of work cannot be carried out in strict accordance with the requirements of technology. And then the home master has to think about how to combine 2 materials that are considered incompatible with each other.

Today we will talk about ceramic tiles and plywood. Someone will say that it is foolish to even try to lay ceramic floor tiles on a plywood surface, but I would like to note that this is not entirely true and there is a real way, which we will consider below. Laying tiles on plywood can be done both by professionals and on their own. Which method to choose is a personal matter for everyone. However, in the second case, you can save a lot. Decide for yourself which is more acceptable!

Laying ceramic tiles on plywood: technological features

In what case would this method be the most appropriate? Of course, if the house is built of wood, or using frame construction technology. This design option has a fairly low weight, and if there is also a wooden floor (high-quality logs), then flooring from boards can be made quite quickly without incurring large financial and labor costs.

Now about . This material, as a type of decoration, is very widespread. It is used for both walls and floors, in rooms for various purposes, from the bathroom to the living room. The ideal surface for its laying is, of course, a concrete screed. But in the absence of such, laying ceramic tiles on a plywood sheet is also possible. Laying floor tiles on plywood or wall cladding: all this is done using almost the same technology.

Even professionals in this business take advantage of this opportunity and do not neglect the laying of tiles on a plywood surface. True, the complexity in this case increases slightly. And the process itself is practically no different from installing tiles on any surface of a different kind. What is the difference between this method and others? Everything is very simple: in preparing the base for laying ceramic tiles.

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Details of foundation preparation

So, let’s start with the fact that the plywood base must have a thickness of at least 22 mm, and when it is laid on logs, it increases to 30 mm. This is necessary to give good rigidity to the base, it is it that will ensure the quality of the entire further procedure and will not allow the tile to be mobile and crack.

  1. To reduce the so-called surface tension, in this case a plywood sheet, it must be divided into 4 square parts.
  2. Only after that you can start fixing it on the logs or on the wooden floor. This is done in a checkerboard pattern. A floor made of boards or parquet is also suitable for attaching plywood to it.
  3. Please note: if the plywood sheet is fastened to the logs, then they must have gaps of no more than 40 cm. This is important! Such a plywood floor will be of high quality.
  4. And yet, when fastening plywood with self-tapping screws, do not save on their number. Since their more frequent location will make the plywood floor more rigid and help it not succumb to deflections.
  5. And this, in turn, will reduce the degree of possible vibration of the base sheet. If you fix the sheets in this way, then in the future you will not expect surprises in the form of cracked plates.

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When laying the plywood base, it is necessary to control its strictly horizontal position using the building level. Only in this way will the plywood floor fully meet the requirements for a surface intended for laying tiles. And speaking of tools, you may also need:

  • screwdriver;
  • tape measure;
  • marker;
  • hammer;
  • jigsaw;
  • spatula;
  • tile cutter.

If you have sheets of thinner plywood than recommended above, you can use them, but in 2 layers. When performing this kind of base preparation, make sure that the seams of these 2 plywood layers do not coincide with each other.

To give a greater degree of rigidity to such a two-layer plywood base, an adhesive composition is used, gluing the sheets together, and in addition, the top sheet of plywood must also be fixed with self-tapping screws.

Due to the fact that plywood is susceptible to the effects of temperature and humidity, experts recommend not to fasten its joint to butt to each other. It will be most correct to leave small gaps between plywood sheets, equal to about 0.5 cm.

The distance from the wall to the plywood must be at least 1 cm.

It will be possible to fill this gap with mounting foam or fix the plinth.

Before proceeding with the direct installation of floor tiles, the plywood surface must be well cleaned of dust and other contaminants, and then leveled. For this purpose, a procedure such as grinding is used.

At the moment when you will fasten the plywood with self-tapping screws, do not forget that their hats need to be sunk a little into the base, only in this form they will not interfere with the subsequent grinding process.

After finishing sanding, clean the surface again, only with a vacuum cleaner and a damp sponge. At the next stage, the surface is primed: this procedure will be especially high-quality if it is performed twice. This option will help you provide additional waterproofing and enhance the protection of the wooden base.

If ceramic floor tiles are to be installed in areas with a high degree of humidity, such as kitchens, bathrooms, etc., it is best to purchase plywood sheets with a moisture resistance characteristic for arranging the base.

Whether you are tiling the walls or the floor, you will need to waterproof before laying the tiles. For these purposes, you can use a ready-made waterproofing composition. It can be liquid, or it can have the qualities of a powder.

Only after the primer and waterproofing layer are completely dry, it becomes possible to lay ceramic tiles.

When tiling, many specialists refuse to use concrete screed, which acts as a rough coating. An interesting alternative is laying ceramic tiles on plywood
. In this case, rather laborious dirty work can be eliminated, as well as time costs can be reduced, since it is not necessary to wait for the concrete mortar to harden, but immediately after the plywood sheets are laid, work with tiles.

Laying on plywood is an excellent choice for wood and frame houses, as well as situations where there is no time or opportunity to screed. With the help of plywood sheets, you can qualitatively level the surface by laying it on the logs. They are also recommended to be laid on top of the finished concrete floor in order to improve the heat and sound insulation properties of the floor.

In terms of labor intensity and complexity of work, there are no differences with laying on concrete, the main point is the correct choice of plywood sheets and preparation of the base.

Which plywood to use

The range of plywood sheets available for purchase is quite extensive. It is important to correctly approach the choice of material on which ceramic tiles will subsequently be laid. Here are the main recommendations:

  1. The sheet thickness must be from 28 mm. In some cases, thinner 22mm plywood can be chosen (provided the tile is not too heavy). If plywood sheets are laid on logs, then the minimum thickness of the material increases to 30 mm. These are the requirements that will allow the plywood to withstand the weight of the tile and not deform.
  2. The grade of plywood does not really matter. Since the material in this case is draft, it is permissible to choose low-grade sheets (3 or 4). But it is better to refuse rejection with an abundance of defects and obvious manifestations of unevenness.
  3. It is better to give preference to the FC brand. It is an environmentally friendly material that does not emit harmful substances and is suitable for residential use. The choice in favor of FSF is acceptable when it comes to facing industrial facilities or rooms with a high level of humidity (subject to good ventilation, this version of plywood is acceptable).
  4. The linear dimensions of the sheet are not particularly important, since it is usually divided into smaller squares.

How to lay tiles on plywood

Prior to tiling, select the appropriate tile adhesive for plywood
. The traditional composition for concrete bases is not suitable. It is better to choose silicone or two-component adhesives that are designed for moving bases. Also suitable for these purposes and parquet adhesive.

  • as a preparation of plywood sheets for tiling, its surfaces are cleaned and leveled. The best option is grinding;
  • either nails or self-tapping screws are used to fix plywood;
  • further, a primer is applied to the resulting base, and if the room is damp, then additional waterproofing is performed;
  • the process of laying tiles is practically the same as the classic version with a concrete base. First, the mortar is applied in an even layer to the plywood, then the first tile is laid – ideally from the corner. For better fixation, you can lightly tap the ceramics in the corners or press down with your hand. The work uses traditional crosses, allowing you to maintain the desired distance of stitching;
  • grout can be applied immediately after the adhesive has hardened (optimally – 3-4 days after laying).

You can choose suitable plywood for subsequent tile work in the PlywoodMonolit online store.

An important problem that must be solved when carrying out repairs is the selection of optimal building materials. Incorrectly selected components can further lead to the fact that the repair will not be durable enough, problems will arise that are invisible at first glance. When laying tiles on plywood, it is very important to choose the right adhesive. This is even more important than, as an example, the quality of the wood used. The market offers a rich variety of options, from which it is sometimes difficult to choose. Consider the most popular types of adhesives, namely, elastic adhesive for tiles on plywood.

Adhesive features

Elastic adhesive called two-component polyurethane.

It got its name due to the fact that it comes with two main components:

  • special hardener;
  • polyurethane resin.

They are mixed to form a very flexible mixture with outstanding adhesive properties. Mixing two-component tile adhesive on plywood is carried out using a mixer or using a drill with a specialized mixing nozzle.

They must be mixed right before use, they must be used up approximately half an hour to an hour after mixing.

The packaging periodically says that the mixture dries for about half an hour, but it is better to wait much longer, up to three or four days, to be sure. The question of whether it is possible to glue tiles on plywood does not even arise when this specialized adhesive is used. But why is he?

Why this glue

There are reasons to use the described adhesive when laying ceramics. Wood and ceramics have different properties, as a result they are able to change dimensions relative to each other. This is facilitated by jumps in humidity and ambient temperature. If the adhesive composition does not adapt to this, it will turn out that noticeable damage may occur, or, even worse, imperceptible, which does not appear immediately, but some time later. It is necessary to consider the type of adhesives at the stage of initial selection of materials in order to understand how to glue ceramic tiles on plywood in the most optimal way.

The wood floor is highly deformed under heavy loads, without the elastic properties of the adhesive, the tile may peel off.

It is important to take into account other features of the compositions, in particular, the tree tends to delaminate, the composition must not penetrate too far into the material so as not to create additional problems. Before gluing tiles to plywood, it is important to understand this point.


Not all cases necessarily allow the use of such a composition. The limitation is underfloor heating, heating up, which will lead to the potential melting of the adhesive layer and the violation of integrity.

Not all similar mixtures are designed to work with ceramics and porcelain stoneware. By making the wrong choice when choosing a method for how to stick tiles on plywood, you can simply lower the quality of the results by several times. Look carefully at the label on the packaging, it is always indicated there.

Installation principles

Let’s consider the approach to laying on wood using an elastic mixture. Here is how to glue ceramic tiles on plywood in this way:

  • Initially, a wood layer with a thickness of 30 millimeters or more is laid on logs, carefully fixed with self-tapping screws. You should not place logs too rarely, less than half a meter is not recommended.
  • The surface of the material is thoroughly cleaned of dust and other contaminants, treated with a tile primer. It is necessary to wait a little longer until the primer dries thoroughly, otherwise the result may not be good enough.
  • The adhesive is applied to the surface of the floor (it is recommended to use a notched trowel), leveled so that the layer is small and as uniform as possible.
  • Next, the composition is applied to the reverse side of the tile, similarly in a small layer.
  • Paving starts. The material is oriented in the necessary way (optimally, in advance, before gluing the tiles on the floor to plywood, mark the surface so as not to go astray in the future), after that it is placed and slightly pressed against the floor.
  • When the compound is dry, the grouting begins. For this, a special grout is used. If there is too much, then it is removed.
  • The coating is wiped with a soft cloth and left for some more time. About a day after you decided to glue the tiles to plywood (or earlier), it will be permissible to walk on it.


Although elastic adhesive is the main solution in this situation, there are other alternatives. A simple tile grout does not work very well. But it is also realistic to use it if you use drywall as an intermediate coating. Drywall is attracted to the tree with self-tapping screws. The work ahead is dusty, not very suitable for the kitchen and similar premises.

Liquid nails are a popular alternative. They are applied in the center of the tiles with several points. For grouting, in this case, it is important to avoid cement compositions and use only epoxy ones, otherwise chipping will occur. Is it possible to stick ceramic tiles on a cement mixture on plywood in principle? Not desirable.

Silicone sealant is the third alternative, worthy, allowing you not to be afraid of coating vibrations, except for especially significant ones. It is used together with a grout with transparent silicone, it has good properties.

Polyurethane foam is theoretically applicable, but it is important to consider that its volume will increase, but, due to the fact that the coating is laid without gaps, this effect will be compensated.

Acrylic mixtures and acrylic putty are similar to liquid nails in properties, but they need to be applied in a continuous layer, and not pointwise.