Ceramic tile installation over many materials will work just fine. But will ceramic tile over linoleum work? That's a good question and the answer is ... it depends!
Probably the most important step in a successful tile installation project is preparing the backing - the surface over which the tile will be installed. Save time and money by properly preparing the backing so that's it's solid and of the right material. Backings must be flat, solid, smooth and clean. Install tile over a springy surface and you'll have a failure. Any movement will produce cracking of the grout and maybe even cracked tiles.
You can install tile over many surfaces including linoleum or vinyl. Tile is also installed often over old tile, plywood, brick, wall board and cement board. As long as the surface is flat, solid, smooth and clean you can use it as a backer. Now the surface may require proper preparation and the proper adhesive. Your tile supplier can help with these decisions.
Ceramic tile over vinyl works if the backing is smooth, clean and tightly in place. Any movement of the flooring will likely crack the grout. Certain types of vinyl flooring are cushioned so that they will flex. These floors will not work because of the movement. A cushioned floor should be covered with plywood or cement board. You could also remove the flooring and eliminate that layer.
Be careful when removing old resilient flooring. Until 1986, many floors contained asbestos, which is a health hazard if fibers are released into the air. The only way to know whether this flooring contains asbestos is to have it tested. The best way is to just assume older floors contain asbestos. Don't sand the floor. Usually the best approach is to tile over the floor. If the floor is loose, just cover it with exterior plywood.
Installing ceramic tile over linoleum will work great with the proper preparation and adhesives. Once you have the right base, installation is just like any other base. It's often the best way to cover older resilient floors.
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