Tiling over Tiles – Your Comprehensive “How to” Guide

November 26, 2020

If your tiles are out of date and looking a little lacklustre it can really drain the atmosphere of your home. Most people dread re-tiling because it often means that you need to remove all the old tiles first. But this isn’t always the case. Instead of removing the old tiles you can often update them by tiling over tiles. This essentially means laying a new layer of tiles over the old layer.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to go about tiling over old tiles, we’re going to dive into a step by step process in this article. Then, if you’re not sure whether you want to tackle the project on your own you can hire a professional tiler instead!

It's also easy to plan out a budget for your tiling project with our handy tiling price guide. Learn about all the factors which could influence the cost of your tiling project. 

Can You Tile over Old Tiles?

The answer to this question brings good news. In most cases, you can absolutely tile over old tiles!

To determine if your floor or wall is a good candidate for retiling, you need to consider the state of the old tiles. Are they in relatively good shape or have they completely degraded over time? If the tiles are in good shape structurally and are mostly still intact then your floor is an excellent candidate.

On the other hand, if your tiles are mostly chipped, broken, cracked or loose you should just remove them entirely.While it may seem counterintuitive to bother worrying about the old tiles when the goal is replacing them, the old layer is key to the project’s structural integrity.

No matter whether you are tiling over tiles on a floor or a wall, your new tiles will need a stable base. If the old tiles are in bad shape, the new tiles won’t adhere correctly. In the case of a floor, this could cause both layers of tiles to lift up. If there are extensive chips and cracks then the top layer of tiles might even weaken over time due to pressure from daily walking.

Shower tiles

Why Should You Re-Tile?

While the process might seem daunting, you shouldn’t avoid the retiling process. It is important to keep your tiles in top shape both for the sake of aesthetic and practicality. If you don’t tend to broken, chipped or uplifted tiles it will not only be unsightly but it could also lead to further damages later on.

For instance, if you leave a bathroom floor or bathroom walls untended water damage could easily strike. Damaged tiles or tiles that are literally lifting off your floors or walls provide the perfect entry for water. Moisture and steam from your shower can easily creep behind these tiles. When this occurs moisture will continue to build up threatening the plaster and dry lining which lies behind the tile. It could even lead to mould growth!

So, if you notice that your tiles are in need of repair, you should make this a top priority.

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What Are the Best Rooms to Tile?

The kitchen and bathroom are by far the most popular rooms to tile in your home. In these rooms, the aesthetic and practicality of tiles make a perfect fit.

Both the kitchen and bathroom are generally exposed to substantial amounts of moisture from cooking and showering. Whereas other materials like paint or wood can bubble or warp due to moisture absorption, tiles are less likely to be affected by this. Though your tiles will still need to be up kept and depending on the type, even resealed every so often, they are nonetheless the most moisture-repellent option.


Tiling over Tiles Step by Step

Ready to begin your tiling over tiles project? Then check out the following steps below to discover the best way to go about it!

Step 1: Find the Right Tools

The first step of any project is to gather your tools and supplies. To simplify this part of the process we’ve included a handy list of the most common tools and supplies you will need for your tiling project.

Top Tools and Supplies for Tiling

  • Spare old tiles (to replace damaged ones)
  • Wooden mallet
  • New tiles
  • Tiling adhesive
  • Sandpaper or an electric sander
  • Vacuum and cleaning supplies
  • Plastering trowel
  • Wooden spacers
  • Grout

Once you have gathered all of these supplies and any other tools or supplies particular to your project you are all set to begin!

Repair Old Tiles

Step 2: Repair the Old Tiles

Before you can lay your new tiles down, you will first need to repair any old tiles which are damaged. So,  if any of the tiles are chipped or have come loose you will need to fix them. At first, this may seem counterintuitive, given that you are going to end up with a brand new tile floor that covers this old one. However, repairing the old tiles and ensuring they are set correctly will provide you with a solid base for your new layer of tiles.

Do your old tiles have any cracks or chips? Then, you will need to repair or even entirely replace these. Otherwise, pressure from people walking on the new layer of tile will not evenly disperse. This could ultimately cause your new layer of tiles to chip as well.

Aside from chips, you should also firmly set any tiles which are loose. You can easily find loose tiles by tapping each one with a wood mallet. If you hear a hollow sound, chances are that that tile will need more adhesive.

Step 3: Even out the Old Tiles

Now that you have secured each tile and there aren’t any chips you can even them out. For this part of the process, use an electric sander to level any uneven areas. Evening out these tiles will ensure that when you lay your new tiles that they won’t carry forward the flaws of the older tiles. After all, you don’t want your new floor to be just as uneven as the old one!

Even if the old tiles are all level you should still scuff them up with a piece of sandpaper. Scuffing your tiles with sandpaper helps to roughen them up. Then when you go to spread the adhesive, it will stick better. In the end, this will result in a layer of tiles which is firm and secure.

Sponges to Clean Tiles

Step 4: Clean Grime and Dust

After sanding off your tiles there is going to be plenty of dust flying all over the place. When you apply the adhesive it could easily trap this dust for years to come. So you should remove it before you start laying your tiles.

The easiest way to remove this dust is with a vacuum cleaner. While it is possible to remove some dust with a broom, a vacuum will be far more effective.

If the grout in your old tiles is particularly grimy you may want to give this a good clean with a strong detergent. Then after scrubbing off the old dirt, wipe your old tiles clean with water. This will remove any detergent that got left behind and could prevent your adhesive from sticking properly.

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Step 5: Dry Lay Your Tiles

This is a simple step you don’t want to skip. Dry laying allows you to find the best spot for your tiles before you permanently stick them in place. All this step requires is that you lay out your tiles on the old tiles in your preferred arrangement.That way you will know exactly how you want them laid out well before you apply the adhesive and it dries.

Parallel Tile Adhesive

Step 6: Add the Adhesive

Now that your tiles are mended, scuffed, cleaned and you know just where to put them it is time to apply your adhesive. During this step you will want to cover the back of the tile you plan to lay with the adhesive. Your plastering trowel will help you to effectively cover the tile’s backing.

Apply a layer of adhesive on top of the old tiles as well. Then, comb the adhesive in one direction – don’t get fancy here. Your tiles will stick better if the adhesive is combed in one direction in parallel lines without swirls.

Step 7: Press the Tiles Down

Once you evenly apply the adhesive it is time to lay your tiles. Make sure that each tile is properly aligned before you set it down and slide it into place. Then, as you add new tiles you wooden spacers to ensure that spacing between each tile is even. When you are certain that the tile is in the correct location, press firmly on it to set it in place.

Now the waiting game begins. Once you have laid out all of your tiles you will need to patiently wait for it to set. The adhesive can take anywhere from 24 hours or more to set. To find out precisely how long it will take your adhesive to set, make sure to take a look at the package’s instructions.

Don’t rush this process. It is crucial to leave your tiles alone while they set. Otherwise, you could end up with an uneven layer of tiles.

Tile Grout

Step 8: Grout the Tiles

As soon as the adhesive has firmly set beneath your tiles you can then begin to grout them. To grout, use the tip of the grouting tube to apply a straight line of grout between the gaps in the tiles. If you get any grout on your tiles, clean this up immediately. You don’t want this to set or it could leave a permanent and unsightly mess. To clean it up, a damp rag should be all you need.

Once the grout sets, your project is finished. Now just sit back, relax and enjoy your new tiles!

All set to install new tiles in your home? Easily find a top tiling expert in your area when you submit a free request!

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Can You Paint Tiles?

Let’s start at the beginning by unraveling the question, ‘can you paint tiles?’ As we mentioned above, the good news is, you can paint tiles!
It is possible to paint ceramic tiles. Ceramic is commonly used to make tiles throughout your home. They offer the offer the perfect surface for counters, and flooring, not only in the kitchen but also in the bathroom as they are more resistant to water and highly durable.

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Safety Considerations

Hidden pipes in floors and walls can cause major issues if you’re not careful. Accidentally hammering or drilling through a pipe can be a very dangerous and expensive mistake to fix. Luckily, you can use a pipe detector to easily find any hidden pipes. Simply mark these areas with a pencil to avoid damaging them.

Even once you have identified the pipes, it is a good idea to cut the power and water to the room if possible.

Cleaning Your Surface

Proper preparation is essential to ensure great final results. First of all, you need to remove the old wallpaper, paint, or tiles from your surface. If the surface was previously wallpapered, you can read our wallpaper removal guide before you begin for tips and techniques.

Tile adhesive tends to be very strong. You may need to invest in or hire a wallpaper steamer to help you. Once the adhesive has been softened, you can use a scraper to manually loosen and remove it. This process will be long and requires a lot of time and patience. However, it is worthwhile; the surface needs to be as flat as possible before you start tiling, otherwise, you won’t achieve a good finish.

Once you’re finished, wash the wall with TSP or an ammonia-based cleaner. This is step is necessary to remove any grease or oil left behind on the wall. This ensures the tile adhesive secures to the surface. When you are removing wallpaper or old tiles, your wall may sustain some damage. Usually, this can be done with a filler. However, you might need to skim the surface instead if the damage is significant enough. A full step-by-step guide to the process of skimming a wall can be found here.

Measuring Your Surface

You need to carefully measure the surface that you plan to tile. This will determine how many tiles you will need to purchase. To work out the area of your surface, measure the length and the width. Then multiply these numbers together. Take the area and divide it by the size of the tiles that you have chosen. This final figure will tell you how many tiles you need to buy.

You should also factor in breakage by buying more tiles than you plan to use. Investing in some extra tiles may also save you time and money if you need to replace some tiles later on. Map out your route and pattern before you begin.

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Which Bathroom Tiles Are Right for Me?

First of all, when tiling a bathroom, you should bear in mind that the size of the room should influence a lot of your decisions. Small bathrooms won’t be suited to large bathroom tiles, as they can make the room look even smaller. Instead, medium or small tiles are a far better option for small bathrooms.

Most bathrooms tiles are either porcelain or ceramic. They tend to be affordable tiling options. There are benefits to both options. Porcelain tiles tend to be more hardwearing than ceramic tiles. However, this means that sometimes they can more expensive than ceramic tiles. If you are tiling a bathroom wall, you won’t need to choose tiles that can withstand a lot of wear. So, you can opt for whatever style of tile that you prefer.

Natural stone tiles are also increasingly popular in bathrooms. If you are looking to learn how to tile a bathroom for the first time, you may want to avoid these tiles. Tiles made of stone or limestone are far more porous and absorbent than their ceramic or porcelain counterparts.

Essentially, natural stone tiles will need sealing a lot more regularly. So if you’re a D.I.Y. novice, or short on time, you might want to steer clear of them as they require quite a lot of upkeep.

Always order sample tiles before you start tiling a bathroom. It can be tricky to picture the size of a tile when you’re looking online or in a bathroom store. However, taking the tiles and living with them will make your more confident that you’ve chosen the right colour and size.

If you need some bathroom tiling inspiration, why not check out our bathroom tiling ideas article?

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