Can I tile over existing old tiles?

Here we tackle the age-old question that we get asked every week. Can I tile over existing tiles?

nWhether you are new to renovation, or a seasoned DIY’er, this question has certainly crossed your mind. You question yourself the need to remove existing tiles if you are going to put them straight back on and if the time, money, and effort invested on it is worth it (notwithstanding the noise and neighbor complaints!)

First things first is to always ask an expert. There is no use asking your work colleague Daryl who spends his days watching the stock market whose brother happened to renovate his own home a few years back. Aunt Betty probably won’t have the answers you’re looking for either unless she spent her younger years with a trowel and angle grinder in her hand.

Here we give you the right advice and things to consider when this question of remodeling crosses your mind.

In a nutshell, yes you can tile over existing tiles but only if you’ve taken the ramifications into consideration. If you’ve been in the UAE long enough during the days when buildings were going up every week, then you know about the shoddy workmanship in those days. Tiling over existing tiles means accepting the substrate underneath (and another person’s work), which includes the tile, the glue, the screed (if it exists) and the slab or other flooring material. If your old tiles are drummy, lifting, loose, uneven, heaving, or in bad shape, then it’s probably best that you remove them. Tiling on top of such tiles is a band-aid solution to future problems. A few things you need to consider when tiling over old tile is the fact that you will lose a few millimeters in height and several more in the wall-to-wall distance. In addition, the extra layer can make it more difficult to install taps and other fixtures.

Preparation is always key. The preparation of the tiles is super important because you want a nice bond between the adhesive and the old tiles. A glossy tile will need to be sanded and scuffed back in order to ensure a good bond exists between old and new tiles. Whilst tiling over existing tiles is easier, cleaner, and saves disposal costs as well as time, there are additional time and cost constraints due to preparation times, and the risk of assuming bad workmanship or building issues you are unaware of.

nSo for the sake of a few days of demolition and maybe some waterproofing, it would be safer to say that taking existing tiles off would be the foolproof and safer method to adopt, giving you peace of mind. It’s the “right way” to do things and should be considered as the first option rather than the second. It could save you ripping out the new tiles at a later stage and a lot of money should any issues arise.

nIf you’d like to discuss your renovation needs with our experts for any work in Dubai or Abu Dhabi in the UAE, please get in touch with us and we’d be happy to talk about anything related to renovations and makeovers with you. You can find us at to check out some of our latest remodeling projects.

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