Can I install New Ceramic Tile Over Existing Ceramic Tile?


Can I install New Ceramic Tile over Existing Ceramic Tile - We're planning on renovating our kitchen and to minimize the timing needed and cost we are contemplating refacing the cabinets. One company suggested we don't remove our tiles (large white ceramic tiles) and cover them with another layer of tiles. This will enable us not to remove all the cabinets. Can we install new tile over the existing tile?


ANSWER - If the existing ceramic tiles are well bonded (attached) to its substrate you can bond over them with the new tile, although the new tile bond will be no better than the attachment of the original tile to its substrate.  It will be important to prepare the surface of the existing tile properly and use a good thin-set adhesive for bonding the new tile to it.

First, get a thin metal pole (e.g. rebar) and go around and lightly tap the surface of the existing tile.  Note if the sound changes anywhere.  If it is well bonded to a concrete substrate you should hear a high pitch sound compared to a hollow dull sound if the tile is not attached well.  If it is over a wood subfloor the sound will be different, but what you are looking for is a difference in how one spot sounds versus another.  If they all sound the same and there are no loose tiles or cracks in the existing tile or grout then you can assume it is well bonded.  If you get a hollow sound (lower pitch) then the tiles may not be well bonded and you should remove them first.  You can verify this by removing a tile or two.

To prepare the existing tile for bonding another tile to it, you should scarify (grind) the surface to abrade it.  Then thoroughly clean it with clean wall and change the water frequently.

Once the existing tile is properly prepared then use a good quality polymer or latex modified thin-set mortar that meets ANSI A118.4.  Make sure whatever thin-set is used it is recommended for bonding over existing tile and the manufacturer provides a single source warranty to cover both labor and material costs.  This isn't no-fault insurance, and most problems are tend to be caused by installer error, but it helps ensure the installer is using good quality installation products.

Click here for Installation Guidelines for more info.  Good Luck.

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