Can I tile over old tiles in my bathroom? Ask the experts
Posted by Adam Chard in
| 2 years ago
5 min read
When it comes to renovating your bathroom, there’s no such thing as a silly question. In this article, we find out whether you can tile over old tiles.
When you’re investing in a new bathroom, you want to know that it’s all being done properly, so arming yourself with knowledge is essential. At MyBuilder.com, expert tradespeople are available to answer any questions people have about home improvements. We’ve collected some of the most common queries people have about bathrooms to get you up to speed before you get to work.
In the first of our series of “ask the experts” tips and advice for your bathroom planning, we answer the question “Can I tile over old tiles?”.
Can I tile over old tiles?
The answer to this is simple: yes, but why would you? Tiling on top of old tiles means that any problems with the originals, such as becoming loose, will still be an issue with the new layer, while the extra thickness can also make it more difficult to accurately install fixtures and fittings. People worry about removing plaster from the wall when stripping old tiles, but re-skimming the plaster as a preparation for the new layer is part and parcel of achieving a good finish.
BJD Building & Roofing say: “You can tile over tiles, with the right preparation, but I would never do this—the proper way is to strip right back to original wall finish. Don’t worry if you do pull a bit of plaster when stripping the tiles, as it’s easy enough to replace. Tiling over tiles can make it awkward, i.e. extra thickness when tiling around shower fittings. For the sake of a few hours work, I would take them off.”
Alternatives to tiling
Bathroom tiles are a popular choice for walls and floors and with good reason: They are hardwearing, easy to clean and come in a range of colours, sizes, textures and shapes to perfectly match your décor.
However, you certainly don’t have to limit yourself to tiles when considering the type of wall and floor coverings you want in your bathroom.
If you’re searching for a more cost-effective alternative to tiles, an acrylic wall panel could the solution you’re looking for.
Designed to fit over tiles or almost any existing wall covering, wall panels can be quickly and easily cut to size and fitted in one go. This cuts down the time you’d require for tiling with no tricky grouting to contend with.
Available in a range of colours and designs, wall panels provide an almost seamless finish that is easy to clean. Plus, with no grout joins, there’s nowhere for mould to develop.
Check out the following ranges:
- Orchard Bathrooms acrylic wall panels
- Zenolite acrylic wall panels
- Multipanel acrylic wall panels
Tiles look great when used on bathroom floors, offering a solid surface that will easily withstand everything a busy bathroom has to throw at it. The only downside being the time it takes to fit and grout your tiles for a professional finish.
One neat alternative which could save you both time and money is vinyl flooring.
Modern laminate and vinyl flooring is a far cry from the lino style flooring you might imagine when thinking about vinyl. With a stunning range of wood, stone and tile-effect finishes, they look every inch the elegant and beautiful floor, but the beauty is, you won’t need a professional to fit it. No messy grout or adhesives, simply lay each plank down and clip together.
Discover more about our range of laminate and vinyl flooring.
Doing your own tiling
Of course, we would always recommend hiring a fully qualified and experienced professional for anything to do with your bathroom. However, if you are competent at DIY, tiling is a job that you may want to attempt yourself.
At Victoria Plum, we have plenty of resources available when it comes to tiling:
- Should I fit the toilet before or after tiling the floor?—We ask the experts for their recommendations
- Should you tile your bathroom walls or floor first?—we discover what you need to attempt first
- How to tile—a comprehensive guide to tiling, including step-by-step videos and instructions
- Bathroom tiles advice—general advice on tiles
- 4 need to know tiling tips—great tips to consider when tiling
- Frequently asked questions about tiles—we answer the most common questions about tiles
Still need your questions answered?
If you have your own questions about bathroom fitting, you can ask MyBuilder’s expert tradespeople.
However, if this article has helped solve your query and you’re ready to get started on your own bathroom changes, you can post a job and get started today on MyBuilder.com.
Posted by Adam Chard in
| 2 years ago
A born & raised West Countryman, now living on the Yorkshire Coast, for over 9 years Adam has been bringing home interior ideas to life at Victoria Plum. Adam’s favourite interior styles have been shaped by both urban and natural influences.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Start laying your new tile! Use the same mixture and start laying your tiles right on top of the previously dried layer.
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.
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.
Ok 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?
- 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
- 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.
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!
Is it possible to lay tiles on tiles
The question of whether it is possible to lay tiles on tiles does not have a clear answer. Here a lot depends on the primary conditions – which surface will be used as the base, for example, the old wooden floor and the old cladding. Plus, there are other factors to consider.
Cases when it is not recommended to lay tiles on tiles
Laying purchased tiles on old tiles is highly undesirable in the following cases:
- if the material covers utilities;
- ceiling or floor with obvious bumps or defects;
- when the bathroom, kitchen or toilet is small;
- The adhesive under the cladding has dried up and a characteristic sound is heard when the decor is tapped.
In the above examples, do not lay tiles on tiles. Here it is necessary to first remove the previous layer and only then glue the new finish.
Before deciding whether tiles can be laid on tiles, the surface should be carefully examined. But in most cases, regardless of the result, it is better to remove the outdated decor and lay a new coating.
Inspection of the surface
Before laying new material on top of the old, it is necessary to carefully examine the condition of the old decor. If it is qualitatively laid, there are no irregularities, transitions, this fact will simplify the work. In this case, it should be assumed that you will not have to tear off the bad finish, mess around in the dust and take out the trash.
It is quite easy to determine exactly how well ceramics are holding and the appropriateness of the solution.
- Tap with a hammer or mallet on each item. If there is no characteristic sound, vibration, then it is well placed.
- Take into account that a new layer on top of ceramic tiles may interfere with the opening of the door, and this will entail unnecessary work – changing hinges, etc. .
In principle, it is possible to lay tiles on tiles on the floor, on top of the old material, but when there is a strong certainty that the work will not be done in vain. Before the necessary actions, preparatory work should be done.
When the question of whether it is possible to glue tiles on tiles has been positively resolved, the repair site should be prepared and the necessary tools purchased.
- finishing material;
- tile adhesive;
Thoroughly wash the old surface with cleaning agents to make it easier to glue the new ceramic decor. The recesses of the fallen tiles can be repaired with cement mortar.
Also, if necessary, prepare a plaster mixture if the wall is uneven in certain places, with pits, crevices. The same applies to the seams between tiles. After the preparatory work, a primer layer should be laid to increase the adhesive properties.
How to proceed
It is not difficult to lay the ceramic material correctly on the old decor. You just need to follow a certain sequence and believe that the work will be done well or excellently.
- When the primer is dry, you can glue the tiles over the decor.
- Apply mortar with a notched trowel and give it a characteristic relief.
- The adhesive should preferably be thick and elastic.
- Bond tiles in the usual way, regardless of the room.
- Tap decor with a rubber mallet – in the center and corners.
- Periodically check the quality of work with a level.
Sticking tiles is easy, even if it is placed on top of the old decor, and it is also wrong to believe that only the master can handle such work.
It is possible to lay tiles on tiles on the floor
It is possible to lay tiles on tiles on the floor – a question that interests those who do not want to dismantle the old tiles. The answer is yes, that is, it is possible, if you approach the preparation of the ceramic floor base correctly.
Installing new tiles on top of old ones
Why is it important to lay tiles on top of old ones
A floor covered with old ceramic tiles is a strong, rigid and practically waterproof base. The latter can become a surface on which any floor finishing material, including ceramic tiles, can be laid. But there are other factors that cannot be discounted:
- tile dismantling is a laborious process that will take a lot of time and effort;
- it is highly likely that the screed below will begin to peel off along with the tile;
- if this happens, you will have to invest effort and money to level the floor surface;
- there is a lot of garbage that will have to be removed.
Dismantling tiles is always a lot of garbage
That is, large investments of money cannot be avoided. Therefore, laying new tiles on the floor on the old tiles makes it possible to save a lot. It is not difficult to make such a lining, everything depends on purely technical problems. The last ones are:
- the surface of the base for the installation of ceramic tiles must be monolithic, which cannot be said about the separately laid elements of the tiled floor;
- the surface of the base must be rough and porous, that is, it has high adhesive qualities, which cannot be said about the even and dense surface of the tile.
It is easier with solidity, because the tile laid, even several years ago, is a single structure with the lower screed. It has a serious bearing capacity. But this is only if there is no delamination between the tiled layer and the screed.
Roughness and porosity are more difficult. If the old tile is cracked, then the roughness is ensured, but the bearing capacity is reduced. Therefore, such a basis for laying tiles is not used.
Is it possible to lay tiles on tiles
There is no ban today, new technologies and materials allow it. But before you start laying a new tile on the old one, you need to be one hundred percent sure that the base for the new floor finish will withstand the loads acting on the floor. That is, a situation may arise when the process cannot be carried out. This means that you will have to dismantle the old finish, re-align the floor base. And already on a flat monolithic surface lay a new ceramic tile.
When not recommended
So, the technology is there. But they may not always be used. There are five situations that indicate the impossibility of laying tiles on an old tiled floor.
The first situation. Part of the ceramic cladding has peeled off. The reason is usually the same – a low-quality adhesive composition was used. Sometimes the cause may be a violation of the instructions for mixing the adhesive. That is, mixing it with water.
It’s good if the trim elements have peeled off and it’s clearly visible. But if at first glance the floor seems solid without defects, then all the same, its surface must be tapped. To do this, you need any tool with a wooden handle, for example, a regular hammer. Each tile is tapped with this handle. If the sound is sonorous, as if you are hitting a monolith, then the fastening between the tile and the screed is good. If the sound is deaf, as if a void has formed under the finish, then it means that it is there. That is, a separation has occurred.
A few peeling tiles are no reason to remove the entire cladding. But if the number is large, then it will have to be done.
Second situation – unevenly laid ceramic tiles. The difference in the plane up to 2 mm per 2 m of length is ideal. A difference of more than 4 mm is bad. Without pouring the screed, such a difference cannot be leveled.
Third situation – the old ceramic floor is covered with a network of cracks. Inside each is a huge amount of dirt, fats and harmful organisms. Etching all this is difficult and costly. And all this negativity reduces adhesion.
Fourth situation . The screed of the old floor contains engineering communications to which there is no access. They are operated for a long time, which means that their resource is reduced. It is highly likely that after some time they will need to be repaired, which will require the dismantling of a new finish.
The fifth situation is when the new tiled floor is higher than the floors in other rooms. This is especially true for bathrooms and toilets.
Cracked tiles on the floor
If all of the above situations are not present, then laying tiles on tiles on the floor is allowed. That is:
- no plane differences exceeding 4 mm;
- no cracks in tiles;
- no delamination of tiles from the floor base;
- no old communication networks in the floor;
- The new tiled floor must not be higher than the floors in other rooms.
Advantages and disadvantages of method
The technology of laying ceramic cladding on old tiles has pros and cons:
- there is no need to remove old tiles from the floor – saving effort, time and money;
- no waste, no costs for its removal;
- free from dust and dirt.
- the height of the flows decreases;
- tile-on-tile requires adhesive with a higher degree of adhesion, it is more expensive than usual;
- there is always the possibility of an error in determining the quality of the old cladding.
For laying tiles on tiles, you need an adhesive for ceramic tiles and porcelain stoneware. For example, as in the photo below. The choice of this material is confirmed by one of its technical characteristics – adhesion. The indicator can be found on the packaging. More specifically, at the bottom, where there is an inscription – a class. The letter “C” stands for adhesion. But for mounting tiles on tiles, you need a mixture where there is a number “2”. It means that this solution has adhesion greater than 1 MPa. C0 and C1 do not correspond to this. On some packaging, adhesion is indicated separately, which can be clearly seen in the photo. And the higher this indicator, the better the tile will be held on the tile.
The preparation for veneering requires special attention because the ceramic surface is smooth. Putting another finish on it is useless. Over time, it will peel off and break. Therefore, it is necessary to give the sexual plane roughness and porosity.
Treating old flooring
Here are the steps to follow:
- Tap each tile to determine if there are gaps underneath. If there are several such elements, they must be dismantled, and the resulting space filled with adhesive or screed mixture. We must wait for the filled material to dry.
- Be sure to completely remove the old grout between the tiles.
- The ceramic surface must be roughened. For this, a grinder with a grinding wheel or a diamond cup is used – better than a two-row one. The grit size of the grinding wheel is medium or coarse. Before polishing, the floor must be sprayed with water so that it does not generate dust during the removal of the glaze.
- The grinder, on which the cutting disc is installed, notches are made on the surface of the old floor finish – shallow grooves that increase the adhesive properties of the material. The location of the grooves may be different. Another option is to use a chisel and hammer.
Notches on the ceramic surface
- The ceramic floor can be cleaned with clean water. After drying with soapy water. If a heel of paint, grease, stubborn dirt is found on its surface, then they must also be disposed of. The dirt will be well wiped off with soda mixed with water. Paint and grease can be removed with a solvent.
Sanded ceramic is usually enough to lay tiles on. But if the degree of roughness turned out to be small, then it is necessary to apply an additional layer with high adhesive properties on top. For example, the primer “Betonokontakt”, aka “Betokontakt” or “Beton-Kontakt”. This liquid material based on acrylic resins and sand will create a rough layer with high adhesion on the ceramic surface. Acrylic will additionally perform the functions of waterproofing. The material is applied evenly, for which a brush or roller is used. It usually dries within 4 hours.
In the video, the master tells and shows how to roughen a smooth ceramic surface:
A trouble-free method of how to put a new tile on top of the old one
How to remove the old grout from the tile joints
If the grout has already lost its strength, then you can use a knife or opener. If it is still strong, then you can not do without a power tool. For example:
- Dremel with a carbide bit. Fits 1.6mm in diameter.
- Drill. A drill is also used here, it can be won.
- Grinder with cutting disc.
- A screwdriver can be used, but without a drill. Better wire drive.
All power tools must be operated at slow speeds. There is no need for accuracy here, because the old floor finish will be covered with a new one. But caution is needed. The edges of the tile and the edges of the cutting tool will touch, resulting in chipping of the cladding. Solid small particles can get into the eyes.
Removing the grout with a jointer
Laying tiles on tiles
Here, the standard technology is used with one exception – joints, they are also seams, between new tiles should not coincide with the joints of the elements of the old cladding. Everything else is carried out in the following sequence:
- Exactly according to the instructions indicated on the package, the tile adhesive is prepared. In this case, the dry mixture must be poured into a bucket or other container, into which water was previously poured in the required volume. Do not pour water into the mixture. Mixing is carried out using a construction mixer or a drill with a special nozzle until a homogeneous creamy mass is obtained. Next, the solution is left for 5-10 minutes, after which mixing is carried out again.
Joints must not overlap
- The finished adhesive is applied with a spatula to the floor substrate in small piles. Two or three is enough. They are leveled on the surface with a notched trowel.
- Start laying ceramic tiles from the wall opposite the front door. You can lay along or across, moving to the exit.
- They put it down, pressed it with a hand or knocked it out with a mallet and immediately set a building level on it. The stacked element must be located strictly horizontally. If this does not happen, it is necessary to knock out that side or corner that is higher than the rest.