Can you tile over existing tiles

Updating your bathroom tiles can be both costly and time-consuming but if done right you can achieve a beautiful finish to your newly renovated bathroom.

You might be wondering how you can make the process quicker, and this is where the idea of tiling over your existing wall or floor tiles comes in. Is this a good idea? Will it be worth it in the long run? Or will it be a lasting regret for years to come? Read on to find out the answers to these popular questions.

Positives

Simply tiling over your existing tiles can be cheaper and quicker than removing your them and starting from scratch. With no need to spend time chipping away at old tiles or smoothing out your wall, you’ll be saving hours of either your own labour or the cost of a professional.

If you’re in need of a quick fix then tiling over your existing tiles is likely to be one of the quickest solutions and particularly useful if your existing tiles are well and truly secured to the wall. If your existing tiles are still firmly secured to the wall, then removing them could cause damage to the wall and therefore add additional costs to your new tiling project.

Negatives

One of the main reasons tiling over your existing tiles isn’t a go-to solution is the finish they achieve.  Creating an additional layer of tiles can massively affect the overall finish. A single layer of tiles can be finished off well around door frames, baths, and half-tiled walls but the same can’t always be said about an additional layer of tiles. We suggest using a tile trim in these areas to keep the tiles looking neat and tidy.

On top of the extra thickness/height of a double layer of tiles, this additional layer will also add a significant amount of weight to your wall.  In some cases, this can cause the surface of the wall behind the tiles to deteriorate. It could even result in the tiles falling off the wall and potentially pulling plaster off with them.

You might also find it difficult to attach your new tiles to existing ones as the surface is unlikely to be smooth and matt. This can also be problematic when choosing different-sized or shaped tiles from the existing ones. This is because the grout is unlikely to be of the same height as the existing tiles, meaning a completely flat and even surface may be difficult to achieve.

The addition of a second layer of tiles can also bring shifting and settling issues. While tiles generally don’t tend to have settling issues once installed, this is likely because they have been fitted on a flat, dry surface that has been pre-prepared for the laying of tiles. However, as a second layer of tiles won’t have this treatment it is more likely for them to experience shifting and settling issues.

Another complication that might occur when tiling over existing tiles is unwanted moisture. If you’re unable to seal in the new tiles correctly this can cause moisture to seep in between the two layers of tiles which could eventually cause, damp and mould. In turn, this could even cause the tiles to detach from the wall completely.

Consider the type of wall

The type of wall you have, for example, whether it’s an internal or external wall can have a big impact on the weight limit for the wall. If you add too much weight to the wall this can seriously affect its stability, causing plaster to peel off or even affect the structure of the wall itself.

Therefore, when choosing to tile over existing tiles we advise checking the type of wall and the weight of both your new and existing tiles first.

Consider your adhesives

The type of adhesive needed for this will be in most cases different to the adhesive used for tiling directly onto a plastered wall. Some adhesives also state the weight limit they can hold, making this something to consider before purchasing. If you choose the wrong adhesive, this could lead to your tiles slipping or potentially falling off the wall altogether.

Cleaning existing tiles

Existing tiles need to be clean and free of any residue such as soap, water, and grease. Sugar soap is a great way to ensure your tiles are as clean as possible before starting to lay any new ones.

Alternatives to wall tiles

If you’ve decided tiling over your existing tiles isn’t for you, then you might be wondering if there are any alternatives. Keep reading to find out about bathroom wall panels.

Wall panels

An alternative to tiling over your existing tiles is by adding bathroom wall panels instead. They can be installed directly over existing tiles or straight onto a pre-prepared wall surface.


You can even get tile effect wall panels, providing the same look as a newly tiled wall but with half the hassle. They can be used in specific areas such as inside a shower enclosure or on every wall in your bathroom, the choice is yours.

Bathroom wall panels are also perfect for reducing moisture build-up. Unlike tiles, they are simply one whole panel meaning there are fewer areas for water and moisture to seep into, as long as the panel is properly sealed around the edges.

Wall panels, however, aren’t a solution for replacing floor tiles.

If you are looking for further information on bathroom wall panels, take a look at the following posts - How to fit bathroom wall panels - Tiles or bathroom wall panels.


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