Can we overlaying existing shower wainscotting?

jd168January 25, 2011

We are doing general remodeling of our 25 years old home. Because of limited budget, we are postponing our master bathroom shower. This shower is tiled from floor to ceiling and the tiles show discoloration which cannot be cleaned any more. The contractor suggested that a complete demolition of the tiles and wall boards and reinstalled with granite slabs. About a week ago, we went to an open house of an older home and found that they have overlaid existing tiled shower and bath with new 13"x13" tiles and cut slivers or narrow tile strips to cover the edge. The job is nicely done. So here are questions for overlaying the existing shower wall and floor.

1. I read advice from others on how to overlay kitchen counter. They use hardibacker to provide a surface for the tiles to adhere to. The hardibacker is glued and screwed onto the plywood substrate without removing the old tiled surface. I wonder if I could do the same by gluing the hardibacker onto the existing tiled wall.

2. What kind of glue I should use to hold down the hardibacker? Liquid nail?

3. What about applying screws, I gather that I cannot put any screws to hold the hardibacker at the level of the water spray?

4.Could this be overlaid with granite tiles?

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jd168, you are making it much too complicated. If your tiles are not coming off the wall, and if there is no structural damage to the walls or leaks in the floor, and the surfaces are flat, the existing tile is an excellent backing for new tile. You do not need Hardibacker.

Nine years ago, we retiled the shower in our home, built in 1917. The old shower was tiled entirely in glossy porcelain white 4x4 tiles, with a white honeycomb tile floor. We left the existing tile in place and tiled over it. The nine-year-old installation looks like new today.

It is important that the old tile surfaces be scrupulously clean. Years of use will have left soap residues on the surfaces that you want completely off. Wash down with a TSP solution (or TSP substitute), then wash down again. We also took the precaution of having a handyman rough up the surface a bit (he used a router); it is not necessary to rough up every square centimeter, but it helps to have the roughed-up areas not too far separated.

Then lay down a skim coat of latex-amended mortar. (We used Mapei Keraply with Custom thinset.) Mortar is, after all, specifically designed to stick to tile. Cover the entire surface, but keep the coat as thin as you can; you want the surface to be level. Let the thinset dry and cure completely, a couple of days. Then tile just as you would with a Hardibacker surface. Grout with epoxy grout if you want low maintenance grout lines in the wet environment of a shower.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 9:49AM
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Thank you herring maven for your advice. You make this easier than I thought, although I do not understand how to rough up the surface with a router.
Would an oscillating tool fitted with carbide rasp be able to do the job as well?
Did you use the router to remove the grout from tile joints?
Could I purchase Mapei Keraply with custom thinset at Home Depot?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 4:40PM
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jd168, I am sure that the oscillating tool fitted with carbide rasp that you describe would do the job. We did not tell the handyman whom we hired how to do the task we assigned him -- to rough up the surface a little -- we just told him the end result that we desired, and the choice of tool was his. Our handyman used a window washer's motion, and we ended up with VERY shallow (less than 1/16" deep, perhaps half that depth) tracks that were 1/2" t 3/4" across and about 2" apart and looked like tiny bicycle tracks.

We left the old grout in place, but, as I wrote earlier, we washed down the wall and floor very thoroughly.

Historically, I think that Lowe's has been a Mapei house and Home Depot carries something else; I am pretty sure that we bought the Mapei Keraply at Lowe's, but we may have bought the Custom thinset at Home Depot.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 8:32PM
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herring maven: Now I am clear and very appreciative of your assistance. If I ever got this done, I should post a picture

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 11:59PM
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