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Is it possible to install tile on top of tile

  • So you've decided to replace your old tile with new, but you're not sure if you can tile over the old tile. The short answer is that, while there are times when it is possible, it is probably not a good idea. This is the longer answer: we'll get to it later! Generally speaking, you'll want to start from scratch the vast majority of the time. This will ensure that your tiles have the longest possible life, both aesthetically and practically. While it is possible to install new tile over existing tile in some cases, this is not always the case. Let's take a look at which option will give your beautiful new tiles the longest possible lifespan!

    Why shouldn't you use tile over tile when laying a floor?

    When someone is embarking on a renovation or remodeling project, this is usually the first question that they ask themselves. Wasn't all of that tile already laid by someone else; do I really need to rip it all out and start over? While it is technically possible to install new tile over existing tile in some situations, this is a practice that should be avoided whenever possible. You probably didn't want to hear that, so we apologize in advance for the inconvenience. However, investing a little extra time in your project's demo phase up front can save you a lot of time, effort, and energy - not to mention money - in the long run.

    1. Tiles that have already been laid do not provide the best surface for new tiles to adhere to. It is one of the most important factors in ensuring that your tiling job will last for many years to come that the bond between the adhesive and the tile is strong and durable. To ensure that the bottom of your swimming pool tiles is properly covered with adhesive, you should make sure that the wall or substrate on which they are being installed is as level as possible before laying them. If the surface is uneven, as in the case of a zellige-style tile or where grout lines create a dip, the adhesive will not be able to properly bond with the bottom of the new tile, resulting in a failed bond. You run the risk of having tiles lift up after the installation is complete, or even having water leak between the layers and cause rot and damage to the structure.

    2. Not all adhesives are capable of bonding tiles together. Several thinsets and tile mortars are designed to bond with a backerboard or substrate and the bottom of a tile; however, some glazed ceramic tiles and polished glass tiles may not bond properly with the surface of a glazed ceramic tile. These tiles have special backings that will provide a firm grip on the bottom, but that doesn't necessarily imply that they will make a good surface for tiling on top of them.

    3. By doubling the number of tiles, you are increasing the height and weight of the structure. Always keep in mind that the wall tiles you choose must be thin and lightweight in order to adhere to your plasterboard or drywall. If you tile over tile, the weight will be multiplied by two, and it may become so heavy that it will cause damage to your wall. To ensure that floor tiles do not jam or stick, there must be sufficient space between the tile's surface and door openings, appliances, and furniture. Tiling over tile effectively doubles the thickness of the flooring, increasing the likelihood of jamming or sticking.

    4. Any gaps or pores in the tile can cause problems after it has been installed. Tile professionals advise that you tile on surfaces that are as clean as possible. You want to make sure there isn't any debris, dust, cracks, gaps, or large pores that could allow moisture to seep in or cause tiles to settle or shift after they've been installed, so check for these things. The greater the amount of wiggle room (literally) in your installation, the greater the likelihood that your beautiful new tiles will be damaged, cracked, or trapped in moisture after installation.

    Having even one of these concerns can be enough to derail your brand new tiling job, resulting in a great deal more work and money being spent than if you had simply ripped out the old tile in the first place. Not to mention the fact that a successful demo day can be quite cathartic! Put on your mask and get your mallet ready to start smashing!

    When is it permissible to lay tile on top of tile?

    Occasionally, it is possible to get away with removing old tiles - or even your entire backerboard - and starting over from the beginning. While we recommend consulting with a contractor or builder to ensure that your new installation will last as long as possible and will be up to code, here are some guidelines to help you determine whether you should consider tiling over tile.

    1. Determine the condition of the existing tile

    Your first step should be to evaluate the existing tile installation. Regardless of whether you are physically unable to remove the old tile or simply do not want to (hey, we're not judging), there are some situations in which tiling over existing pool tiles is acceptable. If the existing tile provides a solid, level, and clean work surface that is free of cracks, crumbling grout, or signs of retained moisture, using the existing tile as a subfloor for new tile can be a successful installation.

    Alternatively, if you discover that your existing tile is unlevel or cracked, or that it has mildew or retained moisture, it is best to have it removed to avoid the dangers described in the preceding section. To see if your existing tiles are securely bonded to the floor, lightly tap them with a wood mallet to ensure that they are. They are loose and will not provide the best surface on which to lay new tiles if any make a hollow sound when tapped. In order to ensure that you're working on a smooth surface, simply use a level to check for any imbalances in the surface. If you have a slight irregularity, you can use a right angle grinder (as shown above) to grind away any high spots that appear.