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Can You Put Ceramic Tile Over Formica? (How To)

While Formica is a long-lasting and timeless option for countertops, backsplashes, and floors, it can start to age overtime. When this happens, the Formica and whatever it is covering can look dull, dingy, and unsightly. Covering the Formica with ceramic tile may be a better option than ripping all the Formica out and starting over again. 

The answer to the question “Can you put ceramic tile over Formica? (how to)” depends on the condition of the Formica currently installed and the condition of the lower substrate. If both are in good condition, then you can install the ceramic directly on top of the Formica.

Man installing tiles

Never try to install ceramic tile, or any other type of material over Formica that is damaged, as this will only lead to issues down the road. Even if you are able to install the tiles over the damaged area without them looking a mess, overtime the new tiles may start to sink or crack at the previously damaged area. 

Should You Put Ceramic Tile Over Formica?

Different set tiles

Even though installing ceramic tile over Formica is not a difficult process, it does require time and care to ensure you do the job right the first time. In fact, there are some problems that could arise if you don’t properly research the job before you tackle it. 

As long as the Formica and lower substrate are in good condition and you properly prepare the surface, you can and should put ceramic tiles over Formica. A problem that can occur, however, is the adhesive slipping a little. This occurs because Formica has a smooth surface.

Thankfully, this issue can be fixed by sanding the Formica a little before applying the adhesive. Use a gritty sandpaper and give the entire Formica surface a little sanding just enough to give the surface some texture. This will allow the adhesive to stick to the Formica better. Once you have it sanded, thoroughly clean the Formica with TSP (Trisodium Phopshate). This is a heavy duty cleaner that works better than household cleaners to remove residue.

Use our tile floor calculator to find out how much it’ll cost you to put tile over Formica.

What Tools Do You Need To Put Ceramic Tile Over Formica?

Tools for tiles

Most of the tools needed to put ceramic tile over Formica are basic items available from most hardware stores. You may even have some of them on hand at this moment. 

You’ll need several tools to assist in installing ceramic over Formica. These tools include wet tile saw, tack cloth, tile nipper, sander and sanding paper or discs, trowel, tile spacers, rubber tile float, adhesive, grout, grout float, and TSP cleaning chemicals.

Remember that the above list is just the basic tools you will need and not a complete breakdown of every item that may be required to install ceramic over Formica. Depending on what type of Formica you are tiling over, such as countertops or flooring, you may need additional tools and supplies.

What Preparations Do You Need To Install Ceramic Tile?

Different set tiles

One of the most important things you must do before installing ceramic tiles is to properly prepare for the task. Not being prepared can leave you in a lurch and even result in a poor job of installing the tiles. 

Copyright protected content owner: and was initially posted on October 27, 2022.

When installing ceramic tile over Formica, you will need to ensure the Formica and substrate are in good condition. If they are not, the old Formica must be removed and the substrate replaced. If they are in good condition, lightly sand the Formica surface to prepare it for the adhesive.

Along with preparing the Formica surface for ceramic tiles, you should also lay out the tiles to get a good idea of how you want the pattern and position of each tile to be. This will also help you figure out if any of the ceramic tiles will need to be cut to fit around outlets or other structures. You can then cut the tile at this time so you’re not trying to do that step on the day of installation.

How To Install Ceramic Tile Over Formica

confused man standing

Installing ceramic tiles over Formica is something that is an ambitious job that do-it-yourselfers can successfully complete if the know how to do it properly.  

To install ceramic tile over Formica, you will first need to wash down the Formica to remove any grease or dirt, then lightly sand the surface until the Formica feels rough and textured. Wash the surface once again with TSP and then allow it to dry before continuing.

Once the surface is dry, you are ready to start installing the ceramic tile. This will require laying out the tiles so you know the correct pattern and placement of the ceramic tiles before beginning.

You may also have to cut the ceramic tiles as needed to fit around outlets, grooves, or other structures that cannot be moved.

After you have determined how you want the ceramic tile pattern to appear, use the adhesive or mortar to start placing the tile over the Formica, using spacers to keep the lines of the tile straight.

A trowel is needed to spread a thin layer of adhesive or mortar on the Formica and then press the tiles into the substance to set them.To help set the tiles evenly into the adhesive or mortar, hold a beating block on each tile and then tap with a rubber mallet. Let the adhesive or mortar for at least 24 hours.

Continue in this manner, applying the adhesive and mortar over the Formica and then setting the ceramic tiles in place until you have covered the entire area. 

After the curing time has passed, you can start grouting the ceramic tile by using a grout float to spread the substance between the ceramic tiles. Make sure to scrape any excess grout off of the tiles’ surface.

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Wait for about 10 minutes for the grout to dry and then clean the ceramic tiles with a damp grout sponge to remove the excess grout from the surface. The grout will then need to fully dry for 24 hours.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on October 27, 2022.

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