How to Install Tiles Directly Over Old Tiles

How to Install Tiles Directly Over Old Tiles

Something we get asked frequently here at Millcot is – ‘how can I tile directly over some existing tiles I have in my bathroom?’.

It’s a great question because, if you can get away with it, then tiling over existing wall or floor tiles can be a big money and time saver.  There’s no need for the messy, dusty, removal of the existing tiles and the ‘elbow grease’ required to remove any old adhesive on the wall or floor left behind after the tiles have been removed.

As long as the correct preparation procedure is undertaken, which we’ll cover off in this article, then there will be no problems with tiling directly over old tiles.


Key Considerations

Key things to think about before deciding on commencing with overtiling are:

What effect will tiling over old tiles have on floor level – will it bring the floor level up too much and create a ‘step’ into the room? 

Will the thickness of the final finished surface be thicker than the architrave around the doors, creating a ‘lip’?

Are the existing tiles firmly fixed?

Are the exiting grout lines stable and not cracked?


If these potential problems can be overcome then it’s time to crack on with the overtiling!



Once you’ve decided to move ahead and tile over the old tiles in your kitchen/bathroom/living room/dining room etc etc you’ll then need to do the following:

Ensure the surface is clean, free of dust and free of other contaminants (such as grease).  Ensure there are no cracked tiles, loose tiles or cracked grout lines.  If there are any loose or cracked tiles then we’d recommend these are removed if possible to prevent the cracks appearing in the tiles you’ll be installing over the existing ones.

You’ll then need to prime the tiles with an appropriate primer so that a key coat is formed.  The key coat will ensure the tile adhesive you will be using to fix down the new tiles will be able to grip sufficiently onto the surface of the existing tiles. There are several brands on the market that produce a product that provides a key coat.  The ones we are familiar with here at Millcot are the following:

Tilemaster Prime + Grip

Ardex P4 Primer

Larsen Primer Grip 360

Commence Tiling

Once the key coat has dried sufficiently (check the manufacturers instructions for drying times – different brands vary) then it’s time to commence tiling.

A correct adhesive needs to be used depending on the size and type of your new tiles.  For wall tiling, ready mixed adhesive can be used although anything bigger than a 25cm x 25cm tile we’d recommend a powder adhesive which you mix with water. The reason for this is ready mixed adhesive requires exposure to air to cure and if the tile is too large the air can struggle to reach the adhesive to cure it, whereas a powder adhesive reacts with the water to cure.  If you are going to use a ready mixed adhesive we’d recommend you use a flexible one.



So, in brief, tiling over existing tiles can be undertaken as long as what we’ve covered off in our brief article is taken consideration of.  We trust this article has been helpful and is only a brief guide but should give you some help when it comes to making a decision as to whether to tile over some old tiles you already have in situ.