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Know The Truth: The Pros & Cons Of Adding New Tiles Over Old Ones

With the coronavirus outbreak causing many of us to stay at home, for many tiling suppliers, it wasn’t a surprise to learn that many people were ready to try remodelling their living spaces. After getting a taste of DIY, the home renovation boom is here to stay. As a result, many of us have started taking on larger scale projects. This includes kitchen and bathroom revamps, which can be significantly more complicated and labour-intensive jobs. A key part of these DIY tasks is knowing how to lay and install tiles. 

However, because removing old tiles is a time-consuming and labour-intensive task, tiling over existing tiles is a popular choice to recreate the space quickly. But is it the right thing to do for your project?

Why You’ll Want to Lay Those New Tiles Over Your Old Ones

You Save Time & Effort

The biggest benefit of putting tiles over tiles is the amount of time that will be saved. This strategy also avoids the stress and effort of tile removal. Tiling over tiles eliminates the need to spend lots of time uninstalling old tiles and scrubbing the underlying floor. 

If your existing tiles are in decent shape with no signs of cracks, chipping, or damage, and you’re simply wanting to swap them out because they look old and dated, or you want a fresh look, tiling over them is a better option than removing them. Your tiling project will go faster and even be less messy.

You Save Money Too

Another benefit of this approach is its low cost. An angle grinder, notched trowels, a belt sander with 80-grit sandpaper belts, ceramic tile and thin set mortar are the same tools and supplies needed for a new tiling installation. If you’ve previously tiled rooms, you may already have some of these tools, saving you money. Also, while tiling over tile, you do not have to stress about the cost of paying someone to pull up your tiles or sourcing the equipment to remove the tiles if you undertake the task yourself. 

But What Can Go Wrong With Tiling Over Tiles? 

You Won’t Have a Good Foundation to Build On

Although tiling over tiles is a quick and cost-effective way of re-tiling, it will not correct any pre-existing faults in your floor. If your existing tiles are uneven, for instance, you may have to apply a levelling agent to ensure that the second tile layer is level and flat. While preparing your old floor, you will also have to remove any cracked, chipped, or broken tiles. If there are multiple defective tiles, it could be more effective to just remove all the old tiles and start over with the tiling. 

You’re Adding Weight to Your Floor

Another downside is the weight of the tiles, particularly ceramic tiles. Tiling over tiles increases the weight of your floor overall, which may put a strain on the underlying flooring or support infrastructure. This issue is made worse by the size of the space; the bigger the area, the more weight is transferred to the floor, and the greater the potential threats to the underlying ground. 

For instance, a metre square of ceramic tiles can weigh anywhere between 20 and 32 kg. The load capacity of most subfloors is sufficient to manage the burden of one layer of tile flooring, but a second layer may surpass this capacity, thereby breaking or splitting the substrate or the foundation. Only a full house examination and consultation with a structural engineer can reveal your floor’s actual weight capability. 

You’re Obstructing Fixtures

Tiling over tiles might raise the height of your flooring by 1 to 2.5 cm based on the height of your new tiles. To make sure that the new floor height does not create an obstruction or represent a tripping hazard, you may need to modify the height of doorways and review your chairs and other significant appliances. If you install tiles in front of a significant household appliance, it may become more difficult, if not impossible, to remove the equipment for maintenance or replacement. Because of the added height, you may need to do additional work to integrate the new layer of tiles, such as reducing doors or steps to compensate for the height changes. The extra work might cancel out the cost savings you anticipated by choosing to tile over tiles. 

The Correct Way to Install Tiles Over Tiles

Whether installing tiles over tiles is right for you will depend on your project and what you’re working with. However, if you’re keen to try it, we’ve got some steps and tips for you to follow.

Step 1: Check Your Tiles’ Integrity

Before you begin, examine the condition of your current tile flooring. Tap each tile and listen for a hollow or empty sound to check if they have come loose. If you hear any, you may still cover them with tiles. However, a reasonable rule of thumb is to limit the number of loose tiles to no more than 5%. If there are many loose tiles, try replacing them before beginning the tiling overwork. 

You also want to be checking that the floor is even.

Step 2: Gather Everything You Need

Now, grab the following things and get them together to make the tiling process run more smoothly:  

  • Gloves  
  • Clean cloth or rag  
  • Water  
  • Mild soap or detergent or floor cleaner
  • Tiling primer and adhesive from a good tile supplier  
  • Tile grout  
  • Trowel  

Step 3: Clean & Prep the Old Tiles

Before you begin placing tiles, you must carefully clean the old floor. Don’t compromise on this step; you’ll thank yourself later for reducing drying time and the chance of mildew and bacteria growth. Clean dust and dirt away using a vacuum, then rinse the tiles with water and detergent. Dry them thoroughly. 

After that, sand all the tiles until they feel rough to the touch. You can then add a primer to the old tiles. Because several tile adhesives need porosity to attach properly, primer is essential. Furthermore, you are tiling over glazed tiles, which do not have exposed pores. Primer fixes this problem since it adheres to the glazed tiles and is highly porous, allowing the tile adhesive to attach to it once dry. 

After you’ve applied your primer, you can go over it with a layer of thin-set mortar. Fill in the existing grout lines to create a flat base to place your fresh tile on. Allow the mortar to set — this takes about 24 hours — before proceeding to the next stage. 

Step 4: Lay Out Your New Tiles in Sections 

There is no need to hurry this part. Because drying times might vary, it is recommended to place the new tiles one at a time. Also, don’t waste too much time after applying the bonding adhesive to the tile, since it may dry before you’re able to install it. ‘Draw’ straight and clean lines with the tip of your trowel all along the wet surface; these grooves assist in the curing and adhesion procedure. 

 Step 5: Place Your Tiles

Place each tile on the freshly scored adhesive and gently press it to the ground. Repeat the steps until all the new tiles are in position. If your old tiling is in decent shape, you can apply glue straight to the back of the new tile. 

Step 6: Seal Your New Tiles

The last step is to apply the grout to the crevices between the tiles. Grouting is a major step in preserving the floor from damp and fungal growth. Use a ready-mixed grout from a tiling supplier to save time and effort. Apply it swiftly. 

 Bonus Tips!

Here are a few additional things to think about before you start tiling:

  • If your floor base is plasterboard, get expert assistance. Unfortunately, usually two layers of tiles can cause structural damage. 
  • Choose your bonding agent carefully, as your adhesive needs to stick to the old tiles. It is often recommended to use the same glue type as the primer. There are two types of glue used for tiling over old tiles: matte finish and gloss finish. 
  • Take into consideration the average floor height increases with tiles and adhesive (3 cm). You may need to adjust trims and door frames to suit the new floor height. 

How to Find a Dependable Supplier for Tile Installation

Typically, if you’re tiling over decent old tiles, you should be okay. Just be sure to thoroughly examine your existing tiles for mould and mildew, and to check that no tiles are uneven or out of position. 

Then, to ensure you get the job done to your best of your abilities, don’t forget to get quality tiling equipment and supplies from a top tiling supplier! We recommend Tilers Online. They have a wide range of adhesives, primers, and essential tools to help you get the job done quickly and effectively. 

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