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can I lay tile over tile

Can I Lay Tile Over Tile? How to Do It Right

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing many of us to stay at home, it’s no wonder that we’ve started renovating our spaces. The home improvement boom seems like it’s here to stay, and as such, many of us have turned to larger projects. Unfortunately, kitchen and bathroom remodels are much more involved projects and require far more labor. You may even need to lay your own tile if you don’t want to hire a contractor to do a tile installation for you. 

However, what should you do if your current setup already has tile? You may be wondering, can I lay tile over tile? or will I need to remove what’s already there? Here’s what you need to know about laying tile for yourself.

* Do you want to get the guide on 4 common errors to avoid when  professionally laying tiles? Click here and download it for free.
can I lay tile over tile

Where Can You Lay Tile in Your Home?

While it’s most common to install tile in the kitchen and bathroom, there are many other tiling ideas that you can implement in your home. As a strong, water-resistant material that’s easy to clean, tile works best in rooms where water exposure is likely. That’s why it’s used so often in bathrooms and kitchens.

can I lay tile over tile However, you can use tile for any room in your home! If you want a Grecian-inspired, mosaic tile living room floor, go for it! If you want to try mixed media tiled flooring on your bedroom walls, nothing is stopping you. Tile also makes an exceptional surrounding material or background for a fireplace.

Should You Try DIY Jobs With Tile?

There are certain renovations that you should never attempt to do yourself when it comes to home improvement. These include plumbing adjustments, roofing, electrical work, or anything to do with gas lines. So long as your tiling job won’t overlap with any of those projects, you should be good to go.

Before You Get Started, Consider the Following

While you can lay tile yourself, you should make sure you consider all the factors before you begin. Renovating flooring by yourself can be an in-depth process, so keep the following in mind before you begin:

Do You Have the Right Tools?

Laying tile is an intensive process that requires specialized tools, especially if you want to or need to remove the existing flooring or surfacing. We’ll go over the tools you may need below. However, even acquiring these tools (if you don’t already have them) can be an expensive endeavor.

Check your current stock of renovation tools to ensure you have what you need. If you don’t, feel free to browse our full catalog of products to fill any gaps.

Do You Have the Expertise?

can I lay tile over tile

One of the main reasons why people hire contractors for tiling projects is because of their expertise. We’re not saying that you need to be an expert in tile laying, but you do need to have an exacting eye for details and measurements. If you don’t have that, then your project will look less like a gorgeous DIY and more like a “D-I-Why.”

Is It Cheaper in the Long Run?

can I lay tile over tile

Another common reason that people consider doing their own home improvement project like custom tile installation is due to the misconception that it might be cheaper to do it themselves. However, if you lay your tile incorrectly, you might have to redo entire project. This will add to your expenses for materials, not to mention lengthen the project’s timeframe. Speaking of…

Do You Have the Time for the Project?

In the hands of a professional, tile-laying shouldn’t take too long. However, if you lack their experience, it will of course take longer to finish your project.

In addition, while you’re working on tiling, you may be unable to use your shower, bathroom, kitchen, or fireplace. Because of this, make sure you have the time to finish the project to your satisfaction before you get started.

Can I Lay Tile Over Tile?

Now, the operative question: Can I lay tile over tile? The simple answer is, “Yes, you can.” However, the more accurate answer is that it depends.

can I lay tile over tile

Here’s what you’ll need to establish before you start laying new tile over the old.

Does the Old Tile Retain Moisture?

This should be your top concern. If the older tile retains moisture or shows signs of mold or mildew, you should not attempt to lay the new tile over the old. Trapped water can cause both old and new tiles to rot. Worse, you could wind up with a mold or mildew infestation that could cause severe health consequences for you and your family.

Is the Old Tile in Good Condition?

can I lay tile over tile

Next, you need to ensure that the old tile is in good condition. It might seem counterintuitive for you to worry about the status of the old tile when you’re retiling.

However, if you lay your new tiles over cracked, broken, or loose tiles, they may not adhere properly.

This proves especially important when you’re tiling a floor, as your floors take much more daily pressure than your walls. Therefore, tile floors and walls need a solid foundation to work properly.

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What Will You Need for Your Retiling Job

With all those considerations out of the way, let's get down to brass tacks. If you want to do your custom tile installation yourself, you will need to have certain tools.

Your Choice of Tile (and Replacements for Broken Ones)

To begin, you will need your new tile for the project. Depending on the material you're working with, you may need special tools to ensure proper installation. (Ceramic tile, for instance, requires of spacers to lay properly.)

If any of your base tiles are broken, you may also need spare tiles to replace those and give you a strong foundation for your new tile.

Personal Protective Equipment

Cutting, filing, and working with ceramic can generate a lot of dust, which is dangerous enough on its own. Ceramic dust, though, can have disastrous health consequences if you breathe it in. So, make sure you have a dust mask and goggles to protect your face and eyes.

can I lay tile over tile

Tiling Adhesive and Grout

When you are ready to lay your new tiles, you will need adhesive for them to stick to the surface and grout to fill any gaps.

Tiling Over Tile: Handling Custom Tile Installation Like a Pro

Now, the fun part! First, let's go over the steps you need to take to install tile over tile like a professional.

Preparing Your Tiles for the Installation

  • First, you need to clean your old tiles. You can do this while examining them for cracks and dents, as well as any other signs of damage.
  • Next, make sure that you replace any dented or cracked tiles with spares to give yourself a solid base.
  • Then, sand everything down until it feels rough to the touch. After this step, it is time to apply the primer. Primer is important because many tile adhesives require porosity to adhere correctly. In addition, it's likely that you are tiling over glazed tiles, which don't have accessible pores. Primer solves this problem because it can stick to the glazed tiles and is also very porous, which means that the tile adhesive will adhere to it once it is dry.
  • Once you have applied your primer, you can apply a coat of thin-set mortar. Make sure to fill in the current grout lines so that you have a flat base on which to lay your new tile. Let the mortar cure for around twenty-four hours before you start the next step. 

Lay Your New Tiles

Using your tiling adhesive or mortar, start laying your new tiles.  A little trick to keep in mind here is that it is good to lay tiles from different boxes next to each other because this way, you avoid laying tiles with small color and dimensional imperfections next to each other.

Make sure to go slowly and lay them straight so that they do not look odd. Afterward, grout your new tiles and fill in any gaps left behind with caulk to seal them. If your custom tile installation is in a room with water exposure, make sure that you apply a sealant to the tile as well.

can I lay tile over tile

Bear in mind that accidents happen, especially if you try to do something complicated like tile installation. So be prepared, knowing that it is likely that you’ll drop a tile or that for some reason or another, a few of your tiles will break.

Therefore, it is best to buy between 5% and 10% more tile than what you’ve calculated you actually need to cover the floor.

Allow your new tile time to dry and cure, and then you should be all set!

Can I Lay Tile Over Tile? Let's Review the Basics!

You can lay tile over tile in any room of your house. However, as with any DIY project, you need to make sure that you have the tools, techniques, and time to complete it. If you lack these, it might be better to call a professional.

If you are willing to put in the elbow grease to make it work, you can handle your tile laying project on your own. However, if you need help getting the right tools for the job, we at RUBI Group are happy to assist! Whether you need levels, mallets, or grinders, we have the wide selection of tools you need.

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Website comments

  1. I have a question. Mistakenly, I bought high gloss porcelain tile for a shower and now would like to install it on the floor as well, but it is too slippery. Is there any product that can be applied, to give it a non-slip surface?

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