The smart approach is to remove the old tile and the adhesive under it before putting in new tiles.

Photo credit: Daltile

Each year, thousands of Arizona residents email or call Romero’s radio show with questions about everything from preventing chimney fires to getting rid of tree roots in their sewer systems. His goal is to provide answers that suit the specific lifestyle wherever someone lives in Arizona. Here are questions about home maintenance and improvement from the Tucson area.

QUESTION: Our home was built in 1998. We bought it in 2003. Neighbors told us it was built as a spec home so that may be why it didn’t have quality tile. So we have ended up with chips in the tile whenever something was dropped on it. It’s in our kitchen and hallways that lead to the bedrooms. Is there anything we can lay on top of it to create a new floor? Can we lay tile on tile?

ANSWER: What you have in your home is not an uncommon condition with tile flooring and is due to the kind of wear that tile often gets. Just about any tile will chip if the right (or wrong) thing is dropped on it. If the chips are really objectionable, perhaps a few tiles can be removed and new tiles laid down in their place if you have any spares in your garage.

As for laying new tile over old, that scenario raises a whole host of issues that you do not want to deal with — from tighter areas for installing a dishwasher to swing clearances for doors and on and on. Additionally, you have no idea how well bonded to your concrete slab the existing flooring is. If it comes loose under new tile, you could have new problems. Your new tile also has to be laid on a flat surface, so there would be a lot of preparation necessary to make the old tile surface perfectly flat.

Your very best bet is to remove the old tile and the thin-set (the adhesive under it). You need to get down to the concrete slab and then have a new tile floor of your choosing installed by a qualified, licensed installation contractor. Otherwise, you could create a situation where you have to spend a lot of money fixing something that you could have prevented in the first place.

Q: What is the most durable countertop for my kitchen?

A: We rate engineered stone among the best choices among the countertops. It wears just as well if not better than granite and it doesn’t have to be sealed as granite does.

When you compare the durability, appearance and bang for your buck, you can’t beat an engineered stone like quartz. It’s beautiful, it resists stains well, and it withstands almost anything.

We also find the butcher block format appealing. If you love to cook, and spend all your time in the kitchen, it can be very practical. There is some continuing maintenance that must be done as well with butcher block. Twice a year, you need to sand it lightly to remove some of the nicks and cuts; we also oil ours .

Q: What is the best system for cleaning carpets? Steam, water or dry?

A: A water-based system can do a great job — although it can’t be water alone. The best cleaning methods we have seen for carpeting start with a pre-spray application of a “green” chemical product to loosen the grime. Then once the water activates the cleaning agent, the results are unbeatable, and they last longer than any other method we have found.

Q: I have a block wall in my yard that has a stair-step crack from top to bottom along the edges of the concrete blocks. It may have been caused by removing the roots of a near-by tree. How do I repair this?

A: You could buy some mortar and do it yourself, but you probably need to hire a mason to fill in this crack. Afterward, you might want to paint the wall as well to cover up the repair.

For more do-it-yourself tips, go to An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 25 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program, heard locally from 8-11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) and -FM (97.1) in Tucson and KGVY-AM (1080) and -FM (100.7) in Green Valley. Call 1-888-767-4348.