Tiling Over an Existing Tile Floor

The last part of my bathroom remodel project was a new tile floor. I ripped up the most recent layer of tile, but didn’t want to disturb the original 1950’s tile floor. The bathroom was built around the floor, so it was easier just to tile over it.

A couple of things to consider if you want to tile over an existing tile floor are:

  1. The old tiles all need to be secured to the floor. If they are starting to pop up, you either need to reattach them or pull them all up.
  2. The old tiles need to be smooth without corners sticking up or high points. If you try to tile over an uneven surface with new ceramic tile, they could break.
  3. The overall height of the floor needs to be able to accommodate another layer of tile (think transitions in the doorway and any moldings in the room).

Luckily for me, all of these things were in my favor.

The first step for the new floor was preparation. Taking an extra hour or two to prep for a project can save you a lot of time in the end. I cleaned all the old grout and adhesive off of the existing floor and then used an electric sander to scuff the surface as best I could. After that, I was sure to clean up all dust and residue.

The next step was to determine the layout of the tile for the room. For my bathroom, it was most important for me to have the tile edges look nice along the doorway. Because I was using small hexagon tiles, it didn’t really matter to me how the pieces ended up on the other side of the wall. If I were using larger tiles like 12″ squares, I would have ensured the tiles ended up centered in the room, so you didn’t start with a full tile on one end and have a little sliver of tile at the other end.

Tiling Over an Existing Tile Floor | Style & the Suburbs

Once I knew the layout, it was time to start cutting and laying tiles. The hexagon tiles took a lot more thought and planning than I would’ve thought. Tiling in the open field also required a lot of patience to make sure every tile ended up straight. The tiles were on a mesh backing, but they tended to stick into the adhesive right where they landed and had to be pushed around to make sure they didn’t start getting crooked.

Tiling Over an Existing Tile Floor | Style & the Suburbs

When we got to the corners and edges of the room, we had to cut tiles off the sheet to individually cut and place. This actually seemed to go faster than trying to align all of the tiles on a sheet!

We removed the toilet to tile under it so there was a nice clean finish. I also begun grouting areas that had been finished so that it could dry in sections. The grouting also took a lot more time and product than a typical square tile. It took a lot of work to pack the grout into every edge of the tile! I ended up using 2 1/2 tubs of grout on the project, and I thought I would only use 1.

As I grouted, I used a damp sponge to remove as much excess grout off the tile face as possible, but you never want to get the grout too wet, so I tend to leave it a little messy and then go back a few hours later and wipe again. Once the grout is totally dry, I scrub the tiles with ammonia to get them totally clean.

The final step was adding a quarter round border tile along the wall. Because the old tiles had a curved edge to the floor, it was a pretty big gap to just caulk over. The border tiles nicely hid this transition and left a really clean finish. I was worried it would look out of place, but it ended up looking really nice!

After finishing the floor, I went back to ensure the grout levels were consistent and there weren’t any low spots and touched up a few places. After that, I sealed all the grout lines, which also took forever!

The floor looks so much brighter and I’m really happy with the result. It was a lot of work, but worth it to have a floor that will last. I only have a few more little things to finish up before the bathroom remodel is done!

Tiling Over an Existing Tile Floor | Style & the Suburbs
Tiling Over an Existing Tile Floor | Style & the Suburbs


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