Tile Installation: How to Tile Over Existing Tile

You can lay new ceramic tile right over old tile if you use the methods we show you here.

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Introduction

You can lay new ceramic tile right over the old, using the prep techniques we show here. It avoids the time-consuming, messy tear-out process.

Tools Required

  • Angle grinder
  • Belt sander
  • Dust mask
  • Notched trowel
  • Safety glasses
  • Shop vacuum

Materials Required

  • 80-grit sanding belts
  • Ceramic tile
  • Thin-set mortar with latex fortifier

If your old ceramic tile is worn or dated, you can lay new tile right over the old, and avoid the huge job of tearing out the old tile. In fact, pros do it all the time. But this assumes that the floor underneath is solid (concrete) and that there are no cracks in the existing tile (indicating underlying problems in the concrete).

Project step-by-step (4)

Step 1

Check the Surface

  • Make sure all the tiles are solidly bonded to the floor by tapping them lightly with a wood mallet or a chunk of 2x4.
    • Note: A hollow sound is an indication that a tile is loose.
  • Remove and reset any loose tiles with thin-set.

Step 2

Grind Off the High Spots and Clean the Tiles

  • Lay a 4-foot level on the old tile and mark any high spots.
  • Grind them down using a right-angle grinder with a masonry wheel.
  • Sand all the tiles with a belt or orbital sander (80-grit) to scratch any surface glazes.
  • Remove any moldy or loose grout with a rotary tool or carbide scraper.
  • Vacuum the tiles and clean with detergent and water to remove dirt, sealers and wax.
  • Rinse the surface with clear water and let it dry.

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Step 3

Spread Adhesive

  • Spread a flat layer of thin-set on the back of large tiles for better adhesion.
  • If you spread an area of thin-set on the floor instead, use a larger-notch trowel.
  • Whichever method you use, always comb the adhesive in one direction (no swirls).

Step 4

Set the Tile

  • Press the tile onto the floor thin-set and slide it perpendicular to the combed lines.