How to Adhere Ceramic Tile to Ceramic Tile

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Ceramic tile stays in place with the assistance of a bonding agent.
Ceramic tile stays in place with the assistance of a bonding agent. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Removing old ceramic tile takes time and creates a mess. If you plan to change your tile, consider adding new ceramic tiles over existing ceramic tiles to create a unique look. Since ceramic tiles come in a variety of colors and styles, covering tiles makes changing your decor easier than ripping up old tiles and putting in new. However, covering existing tiles requires preparation and taking necessary steps to ensure the new tiles adhere to existing tiles.

Things You'll Need

  • Grout
  • Grout float
  • Large sponge
  • Level
  • Broom
  • Vacuum
  • 6 cups white vinegar
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Mop
  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Belt sander (optional)
  • Mortar
  • 14-inch trowel
  • Spacers

Look for broken or loose tiles. Replace or repair any tiles needing attention. Add grout to any areas where grout is missing or chipped. Use a rubber grout float to evenly spread the grout. Wipe it with a large, damp sponge to ensure it is level with the tiles. Allow grout to set for 24 hours.

Place a level on the existing tile floor. Make sure the reading indicates the floor is level.

Sweep and vacuum the existing ceramic tile. Remove all particles of dirt or dust that may interfere with the tile adhering. Mix 6 cups of white vinegar with 6 cups of water in a mop bucket. Use a clean mop to clean the entire area, removing dirt, oil or wax from the tiles. Let the tiles completely dry.

Rough the top of the existing tile by rubbing it with medium-grit sandpaper. Use a 14-inch belt sander for large areas. Sanding the original tile helps the new tile bond to the existing tile.

Mix the bonding agent, or cement mortar, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The consistency of the mortar should mimic peanut butter's consistency.

Adhere the tiles to each other by applying the mortar to the backside of the new tile or on top of the exiting tile by using a 1/4-inch trowel. Spread the mortar evenly and do not make it too thick. Generally, one-half inch of mortar effectively holds the tile.

Place the new ceramic tile on top of the existing tile. Start in the far corner of the room and work toward the outside door. Put a spacer between each new tile; the new spacers should be the same width as the existing space between the original tiles. Allow the tiles to set overnight.

Mix the grout with water according to the manufacturer's instructions. Put some grout onto the tile floor and evenly spread it between the tiles with a rubber grout float. Wipe the tile with a large, damp sponge to ensure the grout is level.

Tips & Warnings

  • Only mix enough bonding agent for about one hour of use. It hardens quickly.
  • Consider the height of the existing and new tile before starting the project. Using a thin layer of mortar helps ensure the finished tiling is not too high.

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