Replacing chipped tile with vinyl is not a DIY job

By Alan J. Heavens / The Philadelphia Inquirer

Q: My townhouse is built on a slab, and I have ceramic tile in the kitchen. A few of the tiles have chips where items were dropped.

Is it possible to have the ceramic tile removed and replaced with vinyl?

This is not a job I would do myself; I would hire a professional. Just looking for some ideas and what the pros and cons might be.

A: I’m glad you will be hiring a professional, because I’ve seen so many botched jobs by amateurs.

It can be done. I assume the tiles are in a mortar bed on the slab. At least that’s pretty much what I’ve seen over the years.

Removing those tiles will be a tough, messy job, but contractors have the equipment to do so quickly and efficiently.

It is, however, very expensive, and I would recommend several estimates before proceeding. (I know this suggestion will elicit many reader comments about trouble getting people to call back.)

Laying vinyl flooring over the existing floor is a possibility, but two concerns are leveling the surface and increasing the thickness — making it higher, so doors and trim have to be adjusted.

Good-quality vinyl flooring installed on an existing surface often does not require underlayment, so that reduces the chance of adding to the floor height.

The contractor will likely level the existing ceramic-tile floor with a self-leveling compound that will fill in the grout lines.

The chipped tiles should be replaced and filled in, as well, to guarantee a level surface for the new vinyl floor.

Or, if you had matching tiles to replace the chipped ones, a contractor could remove and replace them and clean the floor and grout lines to make everything look new.

My rule: Always buy a couple of extra boxes of tile to keep on hand in the event a plumbing disaster creates a need.

— Contact: aheavens@phillynews.com.