How to Tile Over Existing Tile

Date
Jun, 17, 2019

HOW TO TILE OVER EXISTING TILE

When we began talking about our plan for our half bathroom, we immediately decided to tile over the existing ceramic tile. So many of you were blown away by the fact that you could actually do this so I wanted to go more in depth about how to tile over tile.

STEPS FOR TILING OVER TILE

Of course there are a lot of variables that need to be considered but I’m going to share our process with our bathroom walls and then go into more depth and answer all of your questions that you had from instagram.

STEP 1

Repair any minor cracks or missing tiles. Especially for floors you want a solid foundation – if there is a lot of damage I don’t suggest doing it on the floor. For walls, it’s not as big of a deal if there is some previous damage. We had some old base trim that we removed so we needed to do a little repair work where that was ripped out.

Prepping for tiling over old tile

My FIL used some scrap tile he had to fill in the big gaps and make an even layer against the floor then just filled in the rest of the openings when he skimcoated. 

Tutorial for Tiling Over Old Tile

STEP 2

Skim coat over your existing tile. My FIL uses and recommends Laticrete 272 mortar mixed with 333 additive. This will guarantee your tiles to stick over pretty much anything. Make sure you’ve filled in all the grooves and any openings on your existing surface. Let this dry before moving on.

Laticrete 272 Mortar

Laticrete 333 Flexible Additive

STEP 3

Start laying your new tile! Use the same mixture and start laying your tiles right on top of the previously dried layer. 

How to Tile Over Existing Wall Tile

Place new tile over old tile

STEP 4

Grout. Adding in your grout prevents moisture from creeping into the seams and provides a durable layer between your tiles. We used white grout for this entire bathroom.

Green and white tile with white grout

STEP 5

Fill in cracks along the floor, ceiling, windows etc. with caulk. There may be areas the grout couldn’t get into easily and this is a great way to keep things fully sealed and add another layer of protection as well as create a more seamless and cohesive look.

Laticrete Sanded CaulkOk so now that I’ve shared our process, I’m going to answer all the questions you had for my FIL about tiling over existing tile. Let’s get started!

Can you tile over floor tile?

Yes – if you don’t have any cracked or loose tiles. If it isn’t 100% firm and solid, it won’t be a good support for new tile. The weight of tile on tile is not a factor and isn’t something you should worry about. 

If there are minor cracks you can repair them by removing the whole tile and replacing it with a new one. Or you can fill in the cracks with something like Ultra-Set or Sikaflex

There are also crack suppression kits you can use by Laticrete that you adhere to the floor – only recommended if you have 1/4″ crack or less.

What products do you need to tile over tile?

My FIL uses Laticrete 272 mortar mixed with 333 acrylic additive. This sticks to wood/concrete/basement floor – pretty much anything. First you should apply a coat over your existing tile. Once dry, use the same mixture to adhere your new tiles.

What are the pros and cons of tiling over tile?

Pros 

  • You don’t have to rip out your existing wall tile which will create a big mess
  • You don’t have to put up new drywall after you’ve ripped out your old tile
  • Saves time
  • Saves money you would spend on demo

Cons 

  • You might be restricted on the type of design you can do (ie. no shiplap or painted walls)
  • The added thickness of the tile may interfere with your door or window frames if you’re doing it on a wall. If you’re doing it on the floor, it will raise the height of the floor and may interfere with baseboards, or cabinets and thresholds between rooms.

What if tile only goes up half way – how do you transition?

You can use bull nose or chair rail tile to create a wainscot look. You could also put a wooden shelf like we did in here.

Isn’t the security of the new layer dependent on the old which could be uncertain?

Yes. If there are a lot of cracks and damage, then you shouldn’t do it. But there is no way to be sure of the structure of the home and the walls behind or below the old tile.

Any concern about mold/water damage behind existing tile?

If you see any mildew or blackening in the grout joints there may be water damage. Especially look directly around the tub/shower. If you don’t see any discoloration you should be good to go.

Any considerations for future renos? ie. the next person has to remove both layers?

Hopefully whoever lives in our home after us likes the bathroom enough that they wouldn’t want to rip it all out. 😉 Of course it would be more work for them, but that’s not really something that would steer me in one direction or another. We did this reno for us – not for someone else.

Should you start at the wall or the center?

You should start at the center of the wall and you can either center the tile or center a joint – whichever will give you a better cut against the wall. Just measure it out and decide how you want it to look.

What about tiling over tile on the ceiling?

Yes. As long as you prepare it properly and follow the same steps as above it will be fine!

Will it work in a shower?

Yes but be sure to use the 272 and 333 and check for hairline cracks. There is a product you can use called Sikaflex – it’s a water proofing membrane you can use over old tile to seal it before adding the new tile.

How did you handle where the wall tile and floor tile meet?

We caulked it for a seamless look.

Can you tile over brick?

Yes! First skimcoat and then take a hammer and chisel and knock off the high parts. Then continue with laying your new tile.

How do you get a seamless transition from carpet to bathroom tile?

The best way would be to use a transition strip. They make them out of different materials and colors and allow the different flooring to come to a clean end. If the tile and carpet aren’t on the same level, they make ones with a slight slant so that it fills that gap.

How do you transition to a wood floor?

Again, using a transition strip is the best way to connect two different floors if they aren’t on the same level. If they are on the same level, you could just grout and caulk right up to the wood floor.

Can you grout over old grout?

No. You would have to dig it all out or you could use a grout pen/marker to change the color of it.

I love how our bathroom turned out so much and it totally made sense for us to tile over out existing tile in the case. It allowed me to have fun with a unique tile pattern and gave me a space I love.

Green and White Tile Bathroom

If you guys have any other questions about how to tile over tile on any surface then leave them below and I’ll be sure to answer them! This is such a great option that will save you time and money and I hope this post will help you determine if it’s the right decision for you!

Step by Step Guide for Tiling Over Tile

brepurposed

17 Comments

  1. Reply

    Glinda Reeves

    February 7, 2022

    We had quartz counter top installed and I hate backsplash we had prior to the countertops. So I want to try tiling over backsplash. It is not a flat surface . Will this still work ? Appreciate your advice.

  2. Reply

    Leilah

    January 21, 2021

    Hi Bri,
    Did you have to worry about the additional weight of the new tile? I am wanting to do this on a second floor bathroom and I don’t know if that is something I need to consider.

    Thanks!

  3. Reply

    Tile Contractors Portland Oregon

    August 4, 2020

    Interesting post. Always looking for interesting things, and I enjoyed reading your post. I am glad that you just shared this useful information with us. Maintain the helpful job and delivering in the crowd!

  4. Reply

    Julie

    June 16, 2020

    This is fantastic, I didn’t even consider tiling on tiles a possibility. Glad I’ve come across it

  5. Reply

    Julia

    May 31, 2020

    This is perfect for our bathroom. We have very old tile that had a weird texture very early 90s style. We painted over it and I just don’t love it because of that texture.

    I have a question though…. before adding the first coat of Laticrete 272 mortar mixed with 333 additive, should I sand down the tile before hand?
    Thanks!

    • Reply

      brepurposed

      June 1, 2020

      No you do not!

  6. Reply

    RICHARD

    December 29, 2019

    Thanks for the tile on tile tips..I just might attempt to try this …
    i do have one question concerning the tile on tile in a bath /shower///how do you extend the water faucet and the spout for the bathtub and the shower ///Or it there enough flex in the plumbing to make up for the extra distance needed when you add the new tile over the old tile …

    Thanks Richie

  7. Reply

    andersonmichel

    September 14, 2019

    Hi Bre
    Thanks for writing this piece. I learned a few things that will hopefully help me going forward.

  8. Reply

    Kelly

    July 6, 2019

    Hey Bre,

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful idea. I am going to remodel my home soon. I will follow this in my bathroom. 🙂

  9. Reply

    Anna @ IHOD

    June 18, 2019

    This is brilliant Bre! Thanks for sharing such helpful tips. Pinning this for future use:)

    • Reply

      brepurposed

      June 18, 2019

      So glad it was helpful!!

    • Reply

      Wedding party

      March 27, 2020

      Repair is always exciting. Interesting and creative. I love him so much! ????????

  10. Reply

    Teri

    June 17, 2019

    How about tile over slate? Would that be the same as over brick?

    • Reply

      brepurposed

      June 17, 2019

      Yep, same process!

  11. Reply

    Erika

    June 17, 2019

    How did you secure the wood shelf to the wall?

    • Reply

      brepurposed

      June 17, 2019

      I’ll be doing a post on that but we basically just glued it right in with the tile adhesive and added some caulk to secure it. The tile above and below it helps hold it in place!

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