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Can You/Should You Put Ceramic Tile Over Ceramic Tile

I was recently helping a friend with some renovation he was doing and we came across some ceramic tiles in one of the rooms and we both thought they needed to be replaced.

I want to still use tile but I wanted to know whether you lay ceramic tiles over existing ceramic tiles. I asked some tilers and here’s what they said.

It’s perfectly fine to lay ceramic tile over ceramic tile. But, if the tiles are particularly damaged, or you identify air pockets in the tiles, then it’s best to remove them. Air pockets indicate the tiles were installed incorrectly and will need replacing very soon.

Laying Ceramic tiles

There are a range of subfloors that can be used for ceramic tiles. The most common are plywood, and concrete. But, it’s also possible to tile hardwood floors. Below, I will explain whether it’s a good idea to lay ceramic tile over ceramic tile, as well as, step by step instructions on how to do it.

Should You Lay Ceramic Tile Over Ceramic Tiles

Man laying ceramic tiles

Since it’s perfectly fine to lay ceramic tiles over ceramic tiles, I was curious about how ceramic tiles compare to the other types of subfloor, and whether it’s a good idea. According to builders and tilers here’s whether you should or not.

Generally, it’s a good idea to lay ceramic tiles over ceramic tiles. The main concern with laying ceramic tiles is the subfloor is stable, level, and flat. Ceramic tiles need to be inspected before laying ceramic tiles on top to ensure they are level, and installed correctly.

Testing tiles to see if they are installed correctly is done by tapping the top lightly. Use your finger or a light coin like a quarter to tap on the surface of the tile. Where there are air pockets you will hear a hollow sound.

Air pockets are created when the glue wasn’t applied using the best technique, or not enough glue was used.

Tiles with air pockets fail much faster than tiles that are installed correctly. So, if you discover the tiles were installed incorrectly you may decide to remove them and start fresh.

Copyright protected content owner: and was initially posted on August 11, 2021.

It should be treated as a case by case basis depending on how much of the tile floor has air pockets, as well as, the overall conditions of the tiles.

Generally, laying ceramic tiles over tiles saves labor cost/time which means the job will be cheaper and take far less time than removing the existing tiles.

But, some people prefer to remove the existing tiles for their own piece of mind in cases where they don’t know who installed them, and what’s underneath.

How to Install Ceramic Tile Over Ceramic Tiles

Man laying laminate flooring

As an avid DIY’er I’ve installed tiles before. But, I was curious if there are any considerations when it comes to installing ceramic tiles over ceramic tiles, as well as, what the general process is. Here’s what I found.

The steps involved in installing ceramic tile over ceramic tiles are:

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  1. Ensure the existing ceramic tiles are flat, and level
  2. Lay out the tiles on the floor to see how they will fit
  3. Apply tile mortar to the existing ceramic tiles
  4. Lay the tiles
  5. Grout the joins

There’s some tools which you’ll need they are:

Tools Needed

  • Pencil
  • Notched trowels – small tiles small notches/big tiles big notches
  • Carpenters level also called a bubble level or spirit level
  • Buckets
  • Tile spacers
  • Tiling grout
  • Tiling mortar
  • Chalk string
  • Mixing paddle
  • Tile cutter
  • Tape measure
  • Tiles – of course
  • Cement board
  • Cloth
  • Sponges
  • Scraper
  • Vacuum and broom

1. Ensure the existing ceramic tiles are flat, and level

The surface that you install tiles onto needs to be level otherwise the resulting tile floor won’t be level. Use your carpenters level to check the existing ceramic tiles to see if they are level.

A little bit off here and there is OK. But, anything that you can visibly see or obvious high and low points in the floor should be addressed using a self leveling compound. Self leveling compound is made by mixing the self levelling compound powder with water and pouring it onto the floor. As it dries it will level itself out.

You can also build up areas, and fill in imperfections using filler. There are many different kinds and brands available from your local hardware store. A generic builders/tilers putty or filler works well.

3. Lay out the tiles on the floor to see how they will fit

Once the floor is flat and level you should lay out the tiles to see what configuration will fit the best. The general thing you want to avoid is having a thin piece of tile at the edges where the floor meets the wall.

An easy way to lay them out is to start with one row of tiles down the middle. Then lay out the rest of the tiles. Adjust where the middle row is so that the end tiles are the biggest size possible.

For example you may find that you need to start with half a tile on one wall to get half a tile on the opposite wall. Or, that if you start with a full tile on one wall, the opposite wall will end up being a half tile.

4. Apply tile mortar and lay the tiles

Now that you know how you’re going to lay the tiles, you can now begin applying mortar. Mortar acts like glue and sticks the tiles to the subfloor.

The USA National Tilers Association has put out a video explaining how tiles are affected when mortar is applied using the different trowel patterns. As well as, the best method for applying mortar for tiles.

Here’s the video:

I know a few tilers here locally and they have said that they come across projects from time to time that have been tiled incorrectly, and as a result they had to be repaired at an extra expense.

Simply follow the instructions in the video above to see exactly how you should apply the mortar and place the tiles on the mortar.

6. Grout the joins

When you lay your tiles, you will use spacers to keep the distance between each tile even. But, there will still be a space in between the tiles that needs to be filled with grout. After 24 to 28 hours the mortar underneath the tiles will have dried and you can remove the spacers. Now, you need to apply grout to the spaces in between each tile.

Grout is moist and soft and is similar to working with clay used in pottery. You can apply it to the spaces in between the tiles using a trowel, and use a wet sponge to even it out.

Make the surface of the grout smooth and even by wiping the top of the tiles and the grout lightly with a wet sponge. There can be some grout residue that will only become visible once it dries a little bit. You will see a fine dust finish on the top of the tiles.

Take a clean wet sponges and wipe the surface of the tiles again to remove it. As you do so, try not to touch the grout in the joins as it will still be soft and wet. Grout takes 1 to 3 days to completely dry depending on the temperature and humidity.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on August 11, 2021.

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