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Can You Tile Over Tile? Yes, Here’s How…

construction worker installing small ceramic tiles on bathroom walls and applying mortar with trowel

Anyone that has ever done DIY home renovations will tell you, the less demolition and, more importantly, the less clean up you have to do, the better. Creating a new space that fits your design taste and your budget can be much more difficult when you have to remove the original materials before you can even start on any new installation. A prime example of this challenge; the existing tile in your home.

Removing tile requires a lot of effort before you can even start installing the new, better, tile you’ve picked out. So that brings us to the issue at hand. Can you tile over tile? Good news, DIY pros. The answer is yes! As long as you do it right.

When You Should Tile Over Existing Tile

As much as we’d like to tell you that you can just go ahead and lay down your new tile over any existing tile in your home, sadly that isn’t completely true. Examine your current tile to ensure that it’s fit to be tiled over before you make the final decision.

Check the overall condition of your current tiles. You’ll want to look for cracks, and broken or loose tiles to determine whether or not you can tile over them. Unfortunately, if the current tiles are badly damaged, you’d be better off ripping them out and starting fresh. But, if you’ve got one or two loose tiles with a chip here and there, you can repair them before laying your new tile. Be sure to assess any water absorption in porous tiles. If the existing tiles show signs of water damage or mildew, rip them out to avoid future problems.

How to Tile Over Old Tiles.

If your tiles are relatively intact with only minor dings and scratches and show no sign of water absorption, you’re clear to prepare your space for tiling over your old tile! Here’s how.

Prepare Your Space.

As mentioned above, you can tile over tile if you have some small imperfections, but you will want to fix what you can before you start. If you don’t, you risk damaging the new tile after installation which negates all your hard work.

Repair any loose or badly cracked tiles by removing them and installing spare tiles to fill them in. Use a sander to remove any excess grout and to level out any uneven surfaces. You’ll want the old floor to be as smooth and level as possible, creating a great base layer for your new tile.

Clean and Plan.

Once your tiles have been repaired, you’ll want to clean the entire area thoroughly. Vacuum up any sanding dust and use a degreasing soap followed by a damp rag to remove any detergent. Allow the area to dry completely before installing any new tile.

To ensure you cover the existing tile entirely, lay out your new tile on top of the old and cut the tile to shape around molding and cabinetry. Once the new tile is all cut and you’ve made sure it lays properly over the existing tile, you’re ready to install!

Install the New Tile.

Start by applying adhesive to one section of your floor, on top of your old tile. Use a trowel to apply the adhesive and then use the grooved edge to pull it in one direction creating parallel lines.

Do the same on the underside of your tile, applying a small amount of adhesive and scraping it with the grooved edge of the trowel. Apply your tile adhesive side down into the adhesive on your existing floor.

Voila, your first tile is installed. Continue in sections throughout your room until the old tile is installed and you’ve said a final goodbye to your old flooring.

Seal and With Tile Sealer (…if required)

If your tiles are unsealed, you’ll need a tile sealer – so check with a specialist before you purchase.

Grouting between the tiles is the final step. The easiest way to apply grout is with a tube that has been premixed for purchase at the hardware store. Fill the spaces between each tile and be sure to use a damp towel to wipe up any grout on the tile surface before it dries. Allow the grout to set. Give your floors another once-over with a damp towel and enjoy your brand new flooring.