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how to tile over tiles

Are you looking to re-tile different areas around your home? While tiling over older tiles is certainly possible, there are a few things you need to be aware of. In this article, we’ve explained why you might choose to tile over existing tiles, what to consider, and how to tile over your current floor and wall tiles.

15 June

Are you thinking about re-tiling your old kitchen or bathroom with new natural stone tiles, but don’t want to go through the task of removing all the old ones laid on your floor and walls? Maybe you’re wondering whether or not you can tile on top of your existing porcelain tiles to save time.

Well, the good news is that you can definitely tile over tiles - however, it’s not always the right choice. There are several things you’ll want to consider before laying tiles on top of other tiles, or else you run the risk of your new set cracking, coming loose, or falling off entirely.

So, to help you decide whether or not you should lay your new tiles over your old ones, here is everything you need to know about tiling over tiles.



Why tile over your existing tiles?

When it comes to the question of whether or not you can tile over tiles, most experts would recommend against doing so, instead suggesting you remove all the old tiles beforehand to ensure you’re working on a smooth and stable surface.

But, with that being said, there are a few key advantages that make placing new tiles over old ones a tempting proposition:

  1. Saves your time: tiling over tiles is a practical option for those looking to make changes on a budget. Using older tiles as your base surface not only saves you the time associated with removing them but also the energy and money you might spend ripping them up as well.
  2. You already have a flat surface: if the old tiles were laid correctly, then you already have a perfectly smooth and flat base to work with when laying your new set, helping you get the perfect, unblemished finish.
  3. A stand out feature: if done properly and in the right location, the increased prominence of the new tiles can stand out as an aesthetically pleasing, architectural feature – one that can catch the eye of guests while also helping to highlight other prominent areas of the room.
  4. Avoids damaging your substrate: pulling up your old tiles may very well damage the surface sitting beneath them, such as in older homes where the base may be constructed of soft stone or wood. In this case, laying your tiles on top of the old ones could save you additional time and money fixing the damage done to your surface base.



What do you need to consider when tiling over tiles?

So, with the above points in mind, you might be ready to start placing your new tiles over your old ones, but there are still several important aspects you need to consider before you get started.


Check the strength of your current tiles

For one thing, you need to check the strength of your existing tiles so you can be sure they’ll bear the weight of the new set. This is most important when tiling your walls.

To do this, gently tap your tiles and listen for a hollow sound. If it’s present, then these tiles are not suitable to be tiled upon. As a rule, any form of damaged tile is also unsuitable to be tiled upon, nor is any area prone to dampness.


Confirm your wall can take the added weight

On top of this, you also want to be sure that the surface your original tiles are bound to can take the added weight of another layer, as well as the additional grout and adhesive you’ll be adding for a proper protective seal.

This weight limit is often not a problem when setting out a single tile layer, but with a second added on top, it may push your wall over the limit, causing structural problems such as warping.

If you’re planning on tiling over your existing bathroom tiles, our suggested maximum weight of tiles and adhesive per square metre is:

- Gypsum plaster: 20kg

- Plasterboard (without skim): approx. 35kg

- Tile backer boards: 60kg


Think about the aesthetic potential

You’ll also need to consider the aesthetic potential for such a redesign. While the right tile set poking slightly further out of the wall could look stylish, double tiling is often very noticeable around the edge of rooms, at doorways, or if the room is half-tiled.

With floors in particular, you need to be careful that you don’t raise the floor level higher than the door frame and cause an unseemly trip hazard. Needless to say, thick tiles in particular are not a good choice when tiling over tiles.


Clean your existing tiles

Finally, you want to be sure that your existing tiles have been thoroughly cleaned before you tile on top of them. Any leftover grease and contaminants have the potential to affect the strength of the bond and leave tiles hanging. Once clean, we recommend a bonding agent is applied over the old tiles and allowed to cure. We recommend Kerakoll Keragrip Eco Primer as adhesive may not adhere to your old tiles.



Can you tile on top of wall tiles

As you’ve no doubt guessed, it is certainly possible to tile on top of tiles, but you need to think long and hard about whether or not your walls and old tiles can handle the new weight. Wall tiles are typically thinner and more fragile than floor tiles, meaning they’re more prone to damage and more likely to break under pressure.

You also need to choose the right adhesive, as only certain adhesives will work for tile-on-tile application, and the last thing you want are your new tiles falling off and getting damaged.

Last, but not least, you need to double-check for any wall gaps that could cause issues with debris and water affecting adhesive strength. These should be rectified if possible and grouted thoroughly once your new tiles have been set.



Can you tile over floor tiles

Tiling over floor tiles is a little different to wall tiles. For one thing, you don’t need to worry so much about the potential added tile weight, as there is no risk of your tiles falling off the floor and smashing. Again, we recommend a bonding agent is applied over the old tiles and allowed to cure. Before application, you simply need to clean your tiles and make use of a high polymer, modified adhesive to lay your new ones. There are also fewer issues with finishing edges.

What you do need to think about, as we mentioned earlier, is how high your new floor is going to be, which is why we recommend doing a dry run beforehand to see how your floor might look once your tiles are set down. If they’re too high, then it’s best to remove your old tiles and add in some new, thicker ones if you still want a slightly higher floor.



Ultimately, whether or not you choose to tile over your old tiles is entirely up to you, and in many cases, it could be the ideal solution. However, if you plan to lay out your new tiles on a fresh surface but don’t know where to start, you should get in touch with the experts at Stone Superstore.

Our skilled team are on hand to answer any tiling and paving questions you may have, as well as provide their own recommendations on materials and best tiling practices. Reach out to us today to find out more and don’t forget to check out our tile installation advice for more insightful pieces like this one.