Your Complete Guide To Tiling Over Tiles

Your Complete Guide To Tiling Over Tiles

In our last blog post, we shared our complete guide to tiling over brick walls. But what about tiling over tiles? Often, we don’t have a raw material to start with; we have existing tiles. And, If you’ve watched any renovation show, you’ll know that removing existing tiles to make way for new tiles is a massive job. We’re talking total demolition.

There’s no way to cleanly remove tiles off plaster or cement sheeting without causing damage, resulting in an uneven surface. You have to strip the wall back to the studs (or brickwork) and start fresh. This means re-sheeting the walls, which isn’t just a massive job; it takes a lot of time and money. Suffice it to say, laying tiles over tiles is a much easier solution!

If you’re looking to give your bathroom, kitchen splashback or feature wall a quick and affordable makeover, there’s no better option to simply tile over tiles!

At Ross’s Discount Home Center, while we love providing customers with modern tiles, tile adhesives and grout for their tiling jobs, we also love to offer DIY tips and advice that make DIY renovation projects quicker and a lot easier. As such, today, we’re going to provide you with all the information you need to tile over tiles, so you can transform your bathroom, kitchen splashback or feature wall in no time at all.

Table of Contents:

Before we dive into this, it’s important that you’re making the right decision to tiling over tiles rather than strip the walls and start fresh. So, let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros & Cons of Tiling over existing tiles

Tiling over tiles may be the quickest, cheapest, and most convenient way to re-tile a bathroom, kitchen splashback or feature wall, but it isn’t always the best solution. In some cases, stripping the walls and starting fresh is the best and only option. The following pros and cons will help you decide which option is the best for you.

Pros of Tiling over tiles

As mentioned, tiling over tiles is the quickest, cheapest, and most convenient way to re-tile a bathroom, kitchen splashback or feature wall. There’s little pre-work needed, and you can transform the look of a space in very little time.

You don’t have to take a sledgehammer to the existing walls, creating a lot of mess and waste, which requires the additional cost of a skip bin to remove it from your property and materials to re-sheet the wall. Best of all, you can do it yourself without the need for any carpenters.

Cons of Tiling over tiles

Tiling over tiles can go wrong for many reasons. The existing surface must be solid, flat, and support the additional weight of the extra layer of adhesive and tiles. If the existing tiles lift or the bond is failing, the new tiles will lift and not offer longevity.

If it’s a bathroom with a waterproofing problem, tiling over tiles is not the best option. The water will continue to leak through to the subfloor and rot the timber.

Tiling over floor tiles will raise the floor height, affecting doors and cupboards; they won’t fit and need adjusting. Tiling over wall tiles will marginally narrow the room. It may also mean that the tiles protrude paste your door and window frames, which won’t look good. You will need to replace the frames with a thicker profile moulding to compensate for the additional thickness of the tiles plus grout.

Now that you know the pros and cons of tilting over tiles, you can decide which is the better option for you.

How To Tile over Tiles

If you have decided to go ahead and tile over the existing tiles, then follow these instructions to ensure an excellent finish that offers longevity.

Step 1: Inspect the existing tiles

inspect tiles

The most crucial aspect of the project is inspecting the existing tiles to make sure they’re in a suitable condition for the project at hand. For this, they need to be flush, adhering well to the substrate, and not broken.

To check that they are flush, place a level over the tiles and see if there are any ridges or crevises under the level. If you find the surface is not level, you will need to grind off any high spots with an angle grinder with a masonry wheel until the level sits flush on the wall.

Check that the tiles adhere well to the substrate by tapping on them with the back of a screwdriver or a wooden mallet. You will hear a hollow sound if the tile is loose or not well bonded. It’s ok if you find a couple, but if more than 5% of the tiles give off a hollow sound, each will need to be pulled out and replaced before you can tile over them to ensure longevity.

Any broken or loose tiles will need to repairing and re-adhering to form a strong foundation.

Step 2: Prime the tiles

prime the tiles

The next step is to ready the existing tiles for the adhesive. If the tiles are glazed, meaning they have a shiny surface, the new tile adhesive won’t bond well; it needs priming.

There are two options here; you can scratch the surface off the existing tiles using 60 grit sandpaper on an orbital sander to remove the glaze off the tile, or you can apply a coat of primer directly to the tile.

Sanding the glaze off the existing tiles is a time-consuming and messy job that is unnecessary with today’s excellent tile priming products. So, get yourself a great tile primer like Universal Primer and thoroughly coat the tiles per the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you’re tiling over a wet area such as the bathroom or shower, then you now also want to apply a quality waterproof membrane such as Morgan’s Waterproof Membrane. Again, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Run a fan overnight to speed up the curing process and dry up any existing mould.

If you are tiling over tiles in a bathroom, I highly recommend you read our previous articles ‘How to Prep A Bathroom for Tiling’ and ‘How to Install Bathroom Tiles’. While they are both written from the perspective of tiling over a fresh substrate and not tiles, they still contain some valuable information that will help you achieve a more professional finish.

Step 3: Replace existing frames and tile edge trims

tile edge trim

As mentioned in the Cons of Tiling Over Tiles, tiling over tiles will make the floor higher and the walls thicker. This can impact the existing doors and windows and any tile edging that may be used.

Before you start tiling, remove and replace any existing window and door frames and tile edging with a thicker version to allow for the extra layer of tile adhesive and grout. The additional height is usually 3mm for the tile adhesive and between 6mm to 10mm for tiles but can range to 20mm thick for large slab tiles. Thus, measure your tile to get the correct height.

Step 4: Lay the tiles

tiling over tilesIf tiling a wall, start at the bottom and work your way across and up the wall. Use a trowel to apply a suitable tile cement-based adhesive like Mastik Tile Adhesive 20kg to the back of each tile as you go.

If you prefer to apply the adhesive directly to the wall or floor rather than the tile, use a larger-notch trowel, spreading the adhesive evenly in one direction. But only add enough for only 1-2 tiles at a time. You don’t work too far ahead of yourself; otherwise, the bond will set before you get around to laying all the tiles, and you’ll have to scrape it all off.

Because you are tiling over tiles, you want to make sure you have good coverage over the entire surface area, leaving no gaps to ensure a strong bond.

Apply the tile to the wall or floor perpendicular to the trowel’s combed lines, pressing it firmly to ensure it bonds well with the adhesive and sits flush. It’s a good idea to lift the tile once a few seconds after pressing it down to strengthen the bond.

Insert tile spacers around the tile before moving onto laying the next tile. Tile spacers are essential when laying tiles on a wall. They prevent tiles from slipping down, resting on each other and maintain the grout space.

Once you have completed the tiling, wait for 24hours or the recommended time stipulated by the adhesive manufacturer before moving on to grouting.

Step 5: Grout & Clean the tiles

The final step is to grout and clean the tiles. Choose either a regular coloured grout or a coloured grout to finish the project.

Mix the grout to the manufacturer’s instructions and liberally apply it to the tiles, ensuring you fill every gap. Wait the recommended time specified by the grout manufacturer for the grout to firm up. Once the grout has cured, you will need to apply a sealer to the grout to prevent staining.

Complete the job by wiping the tiles down with a clean, damp sponge and bucket of water to remove excess grout. The Once Over is another excellent product to help with the project.


Your new bathroom, kitchen splashback or feature wall may be much easier and cheaper to achieve than you think! You don’t have to go to the effort and expense of stripping back the existing tiles, removing the existing plasterboard or cement sheeting to provide a new substrate to tile onto! You can tile directly over tiles in many cases, saving you a lot of time, money, and effort!

Tiling over tiles is a great idea providing the existing tiles and substrate are up to scratch. The surface needs to be clean, level, and free of lifting tiles or failed adhesive. If the surface is all these things, then you’re good to go. However, you should keep in mind that while this is the easiest and cheapest option, it can come with some drawbacks.

It will raise the floor and thicken the walls, affecting existing doors and window and door frames. Doors will need to be shortened to allow for the extra space, and frames will need to be thicker to ensure the tiles don’t stick out past them. It will also hide any potential waterproofing issues that a bathroom or wet area may have, causing hidden rot within the wall frame.

However, if you think the pros far outweigh the cons, which in most cases, they will, then you can bask in the fact that you will be saving yourself a lot of money and time, being able to jump into the project.

Simply inspect the surface to ensure it’s level, sturdy, and has no loose tiles or surface debris. Coat the tiles in a primer (followed by a waterproof membrane if re-tiling a wet area), and replace any door and window frames or tile edging to allow additional height for the adhesive and tile. You can then start laying your tiles. Once you’ve finished tiling, apply your grout, followed by a grout sealer and bam! Project finished. Lot’s of money saved!

If you’re looking for the perfect tile to re-tile your bathroom, kitchen splashback or feature wall, or for quality tile adhesives, primers, and grouts, look no further than Ross’s Discount Home Centre. We have a vast selection of tiles, one of Perth’s largest, and you’re sure to find just what you’re after at a price you’ll love in our range.

Visit our showroom at 57 James Street, Guildford, or shop from our online tile range and receive free shipping to any Perth Metro address.