Tiling Over Existing Tiles: Is It a Good Idea & How Can You Do It?

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Looking to update the look and feel of your bathroom or kitchen without going through the hassle, dust, and construction time involved in ripping up your existing space? 

Keen to transform your outdoor space and wondering how to keep the costs of new outdoor tiles down?

Then you may want to consider tiling over your existing tiles. 

Here’s everything you need to know about tiling over tile, and how to get it right. 

Is it ok to tile over existing tiles? 

First thing’s first: is it ever a good idea to tile over existing tile? 

In short – yes, as long as you make sure that your existing tile meets the following criteria.

  • Are your new tiles… evenly placed and completely level?
  • Are your new tiles… free of cracks, which could introduce moisture and mould (and prevent your new tile from bonding effectively)?
  • Are your new tiles… free of moisture, which you can tell by signs of mould or mildew?
  • Are your new tiles… free of warping or strangely placed tiles that will keep you from evenly laying new tile?
  • Are your new tiles… not too heavy or too high to apply new tile on top. Remember, new tile applied directly on top of old tile will add both height and weight to your wall or floor. Be sure that the surface that you’re applying the tiles to can take this extra strain. 

With that in mind, here are the steps you need to follow to expertly tile over tile. 

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5 steps for tiling over existing tiles 

If your tile passes the test and doesn’t check any of the boxes above, you can move forward with tiling over your existing tile. 

Here are the steps to getting this right and avoiding any frustrating problems that are both stressful and expensive to fix.

Step #1 – Inspect your existing tile 

First, it’s important that you assess your base layer of tile and look for signs that you cannot proceed, including:

  • Surface irregularities
  • Bonding issues 
  • Signs of mildew or grout discoloration (which could signal a water absorption issue). 

Step #2 – Correct any concerns with existing tile 

If your existing tile is free of these major concerns, it’s important that you effectively prep it for the new tile. This means that you should: 

  • Ensure that your existing tile is solidly bonded to the floor or the wall. To test this, you can lightly tap tiles with a wooden mallet. If they sound hollow, it is likely a sign that they are loose – and that they will not provide the best surface to lay new tiles. This will have to be fixed. 
  • Use a level to make sure that you are working with a smooth, even surface. If there is any irregularity, you can use a right angle grinder to grind off the high spots. 
  • Fill any gaps in the tile to make sure that no moisture gets through and that the adhesive bonds properly. 

Step #3 – Prepare the surface for installation 

Next, we recommend that you prepare everything for installation. This means that you should: 

  • Lay out your new tiles and cut them to fit around walls or fixtures as necessary 
  • Prepare the existing tile surface with degreasing soap. Let it dry completely after scrubbing with the degreasing soap to ensure that the surface is totally ready and pristine 
  • Tape the edges of the project area with painters tape, and cover the surround area with protective plastic sheets 

Need help preparing your home? Steal our ‘Home Tiling Checklist’ here

Step #4 – Apply adhesive and tiles 

Next you can apply adhesive to sections of your prepared base tile. There are two types of adhesives you can generally choose from: 

  • Thin-set adhesive – or thin-set mortar – which works best for spaces that will be exposed to moisture 
  • Mastic adhesive, which is most suitable for dry spaces 

When applying adhesive, we recommend that you take your time and only apply to a small section of tiles. This is because curing times may vary, and you don’t want the adhesive to set before you have time to properly place the tiles. 

After you apply the adhesive using your bucket and trowel, be sure to score the surface adhesive with the toothed edge of your trowel and draw straight lines along the adhesive surface. This will help with both curing and adhesion. 

Secure your new tiles to the adhesive as you go, taking care to press firmly in place. 

Continue to spread adhesive, score the adhesive, and place your tile until you are done setting tile in your space. 

Step #5 – Apply grout 

Once all your tile is laid, you will need to apply grout to all spaces in between the tile. This is a crucial step to help make sure that moisture does not creep in between the seams and lead to water damage in your tile. 

You can also keep your grout clean and free of unnecessary moisture by sealing it with the right sealer. If you’re working in a wet space – like a bathroom or shower – we recommend a penetrating sealer. If you’re working in a dry space, like a kitchen, you can use a membrane-forming sealer. 

P.S Check out our project gallery for examples of new tiling done right

Key things to keep in mind when adding new tiles

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If you want your re-tiling to look like a high-quality job, rather than a quick fix, it’s important that you pay attention to detail and ensure that things like trim and grout are applied evenly and professionally. 

It’s also important that you remember that, while there are certain situations where you can easily tile over existing tile, this is not always best practice, particularly since tiles do not always provide the best surface to bond new tiles onto, not all adhesives work on tile-to-tile. Plus, gaps or pores in existing tile (or between tile layers) can cause issues after install as tile on top of tile is more likely to fall off or become damaged more quickly 

With this in mind, it’s often the case that – if you want your new tile to be long-lasting and durable – then it makes sense (and ultimately saves you money) to start from scratch. 

Looking for a 100% obligation-free quote on your next tiling job? Get in touch online!

Trust NHK Tiling for your next tiling job

If you’d like more information about your floor tiling, wall tiling, or renovation tiling, feel free to reach out to our experts at NHK Tiling at any time at 0402 462 570 or by filling out the form here. 

We’re here to help make sure that you get the job done right, first time, every time.

Request a free quote on 0402 462 570, or simply enquire online.