Can ceramic tile be used on the floors of manufactured homes?

QUESTION

Manufactured Home: I live in a Manufactured Home in Florida and would like to know if ceramic tile can be used on our floors? I have been told that ceramic tile is NOT good for these homes. Also, can a tile be easily replaced if there is a problem area or does the whole floor need to be redone? Thanks!

ANSWER

36 thoughts on “Can ceramic tile be used on the floors of manufactured homes?

  1. Patty Gray says:

    We just closed on a manufactured home in Carlsbad, CA that is on expansive soils. Several questions –

    What product is best for settling and movement?

    Can the weight of ceramic tile be supported by the piers underneath. I did see that there should not be more than 1″ in 30 feet.

    If we choose laminate plank or vinyl plank, how does this hold up to dog pee (he is old and has accidents) and will it scratch or chip if something is dropped on it? What type of subfloor should be installed for each of these products?

  2. Donato Pompo says:

    There isn’t really any product that can perform well if the floor to which it is attached has excessive movement.

    For ceramic tile installed over a wood substrate the standards state the floor should not deflect more than Length/360; thus in a 16″ span between joists that means the deflection can’t be more than 3/64″. For natural stone the standard is no more deflection than L/720 for 3/128″ in 16 inches. So that isn’t much.

    A glazed porcelain ceramic tile would be the most durable, as long as you don’t have excessive deflection on the floor. The suspended wood sub-floor should be either 19/32″ exterior-glue thick tongue and grove plywood with 7/16″ thick cementitious backer board over it. Or 23/32″ exterior-glue thick tongue and grove plywood with 1/4″ thick cementitious backer board over it per TCNA F144-16 detail.

  3. Joseph says:

    Home depot and Lowe’s are refusing to install ceramic or porcelain tile on mobile floors but refuse to tell me why

    • Donato Pompo says:

      I don’t know why Home Depot and Lowe’s are refusing to install tile on mobile floors. Probably because they don’t have the expertise or the qualified installers.

      I have worked on mobile home projects over many years and it is done regularly. I have seen it done successfully and I have seen it done with failures. Failures are the result of not installing the tile properly for the intended applications. You need qualified installers to install the tile correctly in order to get good results.

        • Donato Pompo says:

          Absolutely you can install tile on the floors of manufactured homes. The floor has to be sturdy and not have more than L/360 deflection. The tiles have to be installed correctly and have movement joints. Tile is installed on the floors of manufactured homes on a regular basis and has been done for years. You just have to do it correctly.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Since mobile home flooring can be subjected to excessive stress particularly during transportation, it would be good to use an epoxy grout or a premixed grout.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Porcelain tile can be installed in mobile homes, but it has to be installed correctly. The wood looking porcelain tiles typically come in plank sizes so you need to have a good flat floor to install them on. The concrete foundation doesn’t affect the tile installation. Its the subfloor of the mobile home that is important. First the subfloor can’t have any significant deflection. You might need to add support or bracing to the floor to stiffen it up. You can install a cementitious backer board over the subfloor and then adhere the tile to it. Of course the backer board has to be installed correctly per the manufacturers directions and the tile has to be installed correctly with the appropriate installation products.

  4. Janice Taylor says:

    I am having a custom home built. Is porcelain tiles too heavy to install into a 6 x 3.5 ft shower. 12×24 tiles, 8 in a box at 66 lbs a box ? (Ht of walls to be tiled 80 in). The builder will install ceramic but charging over $4000. I can get material shipped for $700. What would be reasonable labor? (Grout pre-mixed)

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Porcelain tiles are not too heavy for shower applications. Of course the floor can’t have too much deflection so as long as the floor is sturdy.

      Do construct a shower properly you have to have a properly installed shower pan that is waterproofed with open weep holes in the drain, and even a secondary membrane over the mortar bed.

      Cost is based on how much time it takes to do the work, how much is the cost of the materials being used, and what is the complexity of the installation. Showers are a more critical application because if it leaked it could do a lot of damage and cost a lot to fix it and the collateral damage it could do. Normally a full shower application would cost more than $4,000 but it depends on who is doing and all of the other factors mentioned.

  5. Janice Taylor says:

    My home will be a Kingsbrook 55 . They don’t have the color of tile I want so I do have the option of purchasing the fiberglass pan from them. How much prep work should be done if I want a shower dish, built in corner floating seat and a 3 ft frameless clear glass door installed after it is delivered. I understand the walls have to be reinforced and was advised not to have cement board finished. (Open walls and studs)?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Prices for installing various features in a shower are not standardized. There are many factors involved on what it would cost for those various features in terms of the how the shower walls are constructed, the configuration of the shower, the size of the various walls and floors, the type of tile, and what materials are needed for the installation. Best bet is to has at least 3 different installers to bid the job based on the same conditions.

  6. Arellano says:

    I bought a manufactured home and I want to remodel the bathrooms with tile (floor and wall), but someone said that is not a good idea, because the house is not stable. Is that right?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Tile has been installed on the floors of mobile homes for many years. As long as the substrate is properly constructed to be stable and the tile is installed correctly it can perform well. The floor can’t have too much deflection and you have to install the tile properly per the installation product manufacturer’s direction and per industry standards.

  7. Curtis McCalla says:

    I have a vacation mobile home near Parker AZ. The home is a Silvercrest, I placed The new unit on the site in 1997 and to my knowledge, they are a high quality unit. I had tile installed 10 years ago. The first attempt was direct on the plywood sub floor. After 2 years the grout was coming out all over the floor. I had the floor pulled up installed cement backing board through all tile areas and found after 1-1/2 years maybe two same thing grout popping up and tiles popping lose. I had trailer leveled and popped all lose tile chinked out old thin set to cement board this time I installed the tiles and grout to be sure time was not a factor, buttered both tile and floor then set tile firmly in place, allowed to dry 24 hrs then installed grout. Now that its been a year and the heat is returning I noticed grout cracking and coming loose. What next, how do you measure deflection or is it extreme temp changes. 30 degrees in winter and 120 in summer Im at a loss.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Normally when there is a problem it is never due to a single deficiency but rather due to multiple compounding deficiencies.

      Sounds like you do have excessive deflection in the floor. The remedy is to get to the underlying floor joists and add bracing between the floor joists, which for a mobile home might mean you have to pull up the plywood subfloor to get to it. The bracing can be 2/4 lumber attached perpendicular to the floor joists. If the floor joists are 24″ on center you might add additional floor joists to make it 12″ on center.

      A ceramic tile floor cannot have any more deflection than L/360. L = length that you are measuring. You need an engineer to calculate what you have, but if you follow the industry standards they specify what configuration you need to achieve the L/360. Rule of thumb is if you put a full glass of water on the floor and jump up and down the water should not spill.

      The plywood subfloor needs to be a minimum of 19/32″ exterior-glue tongue and groove plywood with 1/8″ gap between the sheets. The plywood sheets should be staggered from each other. Then apply a minimum of 1/4″ thick cementitious backer board that is staggered from each other and running perpendicular to the plywood sheets. Properly fasten them and take the backer board joints per the manufacturer’s directions.

      When the tile gets hot or wet it expands and when it cools or dries it contracts. That is why you need movement joints to mitigate that stress.

      Use a good quality polymer modified thin-set to bond the tiles to the backer board. Install at least 1/4″ wide movement joints at the perimeters of the tile installation at restraining surfaces and fill with an ASTM C920 sealant e.g. silicone or polyurethane. Also install movement joints within the field of tile at least every 25 feet in each direction.

      • Cami says:

        Very helpful and detailed information. Thank you. Any chance there are some videos you’d recommend detailing this process, especially the adding of support in the subfloor?

        • Donato Pompo says:

          I am not aware of any videos on this subject, but basically you are installing bracing between two adjacent floor joists perpendicular to each floor joint. If you are not knowledgeable about working with floor joists systems, then you should hire a professional who knows what to do.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      The entire floor should not have more deflection than L/360. To try to align the tiles with the joists shouldn’t be necessary if the floor has been properly prepared for the tile installation.

  8. Ariel says:

    Such an informative article, thank you! Other then measuring deflection, possibly reinforcing subfloor, and installing backer board and tile correctly- is there a limit on tile weight? I fell in love with a thick / heavy cement tile and I’m assuming it’s too heavy at 2.5lbs per 8×9 tile? (Tile would be in bathroom of 1970’s single wide mobile home that has cement footing foundation with additional cement on wood supports. In Eastern WA with temps ranging from slightly below freezing to high 90’s)

    • Donato Pompo says:

      There are always limitations for both dead load e.g. furniture and live loads e.g. lots of people. Two 8×9 inch tiles = 5lbs/sq. foot. That isn’t too heavy if you have 12″ o.c. floor joist spacing with some bracing between floor joists with a nominal 3/4″ tongue and groove epx plywood subfloor with a cement backer board over it. With all boards staggered from each other and from the other layers. With everything being properly fastened down properly.

  9. JD says:

    Hi Donato, we have a 1996 Fleetwood double-wide on a permanent concrete foundation, with the master bath on one corner of the home. The original fiberglass shower leaked, and therefore forced a remodel. We did the demo ourselves, and are planning to have a contractor custom build a shower using a mud bed with tiled flooring and walls.

    The bathroom (containing just a shower and toilet) is approximately 60×96 inches. The shower will be 60×48 inches. We are using 12×24 inch porcelain tiles for the bathroom floor (outside the shower) and 12×24 inch porcelain tiles for the shower walls all the way up. The shower floor will be 12×12 porcelain mosaic. The walls outside of the shower will not be tiled.

    The plan is a new sub-floor using 3/4 inch plywood, Hardiebacker cement boards on all four walls, and a hand built cement mud bed and tile as mentioned above. Obviously I’ve been worried about the overall weight pushing down on the corner of the house and causing any kind of settling, and/or deflection. Wondering how best we can mitigate any long term potential issues, as this is our retirement home for the next 30 years.

    For reference, the two outside walls are 2×6 (16″ o.c.) and the floor joists appear to be 2×8 (16″ o.c.) so that’s good. The third inside wall of the bathroom is shared with the bedroom, but this wall is not heavy duty using only 1×3 studs.

    What would you say are the most important concerns to share with the contractor? Do we need to brace the floor joists from underneath to handle the extra weight? Or just focus on reinforcing the sub-floor for deflection? I know the inner wall should be reinforced to beef up the current smaller studs. But are there any other concerns that haven’t been mentioned here in this thread? Special instructions for our contractor who does not specialize in manufactured housing?

    I feel like we’re doing it right, but I’m worried about the long term forces from all the extra weight. It’s 150 square feet of porcelain tile, cement backers in the walls, plus the cement mud bed. I don’t know how much weight all that is, but it seems like a lot.

    Thank you for any specific to our situation advice or feedback you might have to offer. And thank you for all your thorough prior replies in this thread. Very helpful and informative!

    PS, one unrelated question…

    What are your thought about having a shower niche on the outside wall? We were planning a 24 inch wide niche, which would require framing it into the wall studs. With 2×6 studs we would have room for the depth, but do you think that would affect the structural integrity of the wall if the niche frame were built through one stud and reinforced well? Again, thank you!

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Best to add bracing between floor joists and wall framing.

      1″ of mortar with tile will weight about 20lbs/sq. foot.

      Niche is fine it actually supports the wall after you frame it out.

  10. Doug Brangan says:

    What do you advise: 1988 Doublewide installed by the community.
    Is it feasible to install floating wood flooring over ceramic tile?
    Your thought please.
    Cheers Doug B

    • Donato Pompo says:

      As long as the existing ceramic tile installation and its substrate are structurally sound, then yes you can install a floating wood floor over it. You could also install a ceramic porcelain tile or natural stone over it too.

  11. Doug says:

    Donato,
    I know from your curriculum vitae that you’re a busy man but a bit of clarification please in reference to my initial question:
    My place seems to have been installed in the “normal” way… beams blocks etc
    Will such a structure be expected to bear the weight of laminated flooring over ceramic tile?
    Many thanks for these postings and your prompt reply.
    ‘May you live long and prosper’
    Doug Brangan

    • Donato Pompo says:

      You can’t assume that the structure is constructed in some standardized manner where one can assume it is constructed in a certain way and that it has certain and specific physical properties. Different manufacturers with different models at different time periods may have different configurations with different performances.

      If the framing is accessible it is always wise to add bracing between the floor joists. The standard for tile floors is to not have a deflection greater than Length/360.

      A Laminate installation is relatively light, so if the ceramic tile floor is performing well I would expect it could be a suitable substrate for the Laminate. Although the Laminate installation performance can’t be any better than the performance of tile installation.

  12. Doug says:

    Many thanks for the clarification.
    I intend factor in what you’ve advised.
    I will pop back in to see how else I can benefit from your sage posts.
    Cheers
    Doug B

  13. Crystal says:

    I have hardwood in my living room that has been there for 18 years and ceramic tile in my other rooms that has been in for about 6 years. I haven’t had any problems. Every so often it feels like the tile is moving, but nothing happens. I love mine

  14. Scott says:

    I just bought a home in Virginia with a block foundation. I would like to install tile flooring. Is cement board required to lay the tile?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      There are standards that allow tile to be installed over a wood subfloor in interior dry applications. It is required to be over a 3/4″ T&G plywood floor and it has an additional plywood underlayment over it respective to the spacing of the floor joists.

      The plywood has to be installed properly and staggered to each other.

      It is preferable to install a backer board over the plywood subfloor that will be less moisture resistant and provide a bond bonding surface.

      Either way, the floor cannot have excessive deflection. Ceramic Porcelain Tile require a deflection not to exceed L/360. Natural stone limits the deflection to L/720.

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