Have to retile the floor; can it go over the old stuff?

HappykateJanuary 7, 2008

Our kitchen floor was done so badly that it has to be re-done  by someone else! One of the suggestions was that the new tile could simply go down on top of what's already there; is this a feasible option? It's 1" x 1" squares, on a 1' x 2' mesh.

Let's see; what can I tell you? It's already been grouted, the new tile thickness won't bother the cabinet height, any door openings, or mess up any transition to other floors too badly.

Thanks in advance! I'd like to have an answer ready when this is presented to me; this, in addition to the fact that the ENIRE master bath has to be retiled as well, is sure going to slow us down!

Thanks! Kate.

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Don't know for sure, but wonder if weight will be a factor. I didn't think it was that difficult to remove tile. Good luck with whatever you decide.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 9:21PM
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I just touched up tile in my mudroom with some extra grout. It worked! It is a bit darker than the old for some reason, but could be bc it has not been sealed. You might want to try one area out at first to see as a test.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 11:02PM
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Wife and I got tired of our white floor tile in kitchen, entryway, hall and bath so we removed it with hammers, chisels and scrapers. All 500 sq ft. It took a few days to remove the tile, metal lath and morter down to the subfloor. We floated thinset morter and installed hardbacker board, then more thinset and finally the tiles. All in all we saved about $7000 in labor for a few days (mainly evenings, mornings and weekends) work.

We installed a porcelain tile that looks like natural slate and gives us the natural warm look we were after. First time for a job of this magnitude, looking back it seems unbelieveable that we did it ourselves.

Now to ansewer your question. The correct way is what I have outlined above, but there is more than one way to skin a cat. Our home is in a very nice area of homes valued between $800K - $2M+ and a job done correctly will add value and future marketability as well as current appreciation and satisfaction. If I had an inexpensive rental that needed the "quick and dirty" fix, I may do it in a less time consuming manner.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 11:23PM
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fran, weight shouldn't be a problem.

zoe, the problem is this tile is laid so very badly that unless the tile was completely and permanently covered with grout, grout isn't the answer!

bignich, this is new construction. The tile store is standing up to this problem (it was their installer who messed it up) and sending out their best guy to retile; we've seen his work and are confident that he will do an excellent job.
So you can see that the tile store is trying to make us happy at the least possible cost to themselves, of course; if they tear out the old tile, they'll not only have that labor but will have to replace the backer board as well.

But, can we just go over the tile that's there without tearing the old stuff out? How will anyone know that there are two layers of tile? Is cracking more likely? Again, these are 1" square tiles.

Thanks again! Kate.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 11:44PM
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Define "badly" installed. What, specifically, are the problems? What is under the tile? Are you re-installing the same tile? If not, what material is the existing tile? The new tile?

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 12:24AM
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Have them do it right! Start over with new backer board, tile over tile is a lazy and poor way to do a job. Just like vinyl tile over linolium or ashpalt tile and re-roofing over existing shingles. This is a cheap and at best a very bad way to do a job. Like I said before, it may be justified if you have a shack in shanty town and are on an extreemly tight budget. But for most homes that are owner occupied it's not a big deal to do the job as it should be done correctly. Just my take, the decision is yours and I'm just trying to put your options in perspective.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 1:09AM
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'Define "badly" installed. What, specifically, are the problems? '
The tiles are very poorly positioned; instead of straight grout lines, ours move every time one 1' x 2' mesh-mounted sheet of 1" tiles meets another.

'What is under the tile?'
Backer board.

'Are you re-installing the same tile? If not, what material is the existing tile? The new tile?'

Yes, we're installing the same through-body porcelain tile.

Thanks again, everybody; we're on our way out there in a few hours, at which point I may have to make a decision! Kate.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen floor tile

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 10:20AM
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You can successfully re-tile over existing tiles - every if you have a nice house and not a shanty town shack - but:

- the exisitng tiles must be 100% solid and 100% flat. If the problem with the tiles is that they are not flat do not let them tell you they can correct that with glue.

- The glue used for the new tiles must specify that it can be used over old tiles - not all floor tile adhesive can.

We have done this were the old tiles were very old and removing them would cause too much damage, but if I had a nex place and it was the installers fault I would insist that they take up all the old tiles.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 10:28AM
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Although I agree with fondantfancy, the industry frowns on tiling over ceramic mosiacs (1x1's and 2x2's). Although I don't know why for sure, I would imagine that it has something to do with the very light amount of thinset used to adhere them.

As for the thinset to use, I won't go over a layer of tile with anything other than an unmodified thinset mixed with a liquid latex additive full strength, The reason is latex content. You won't get anywhere near the amount of latex in any modified thinset that you will when mixing an unmodified with the additive (and no, you can't mix a modified thinset with a liquid additive-- the polymers will react badly with each other).

My favorites are one of two combinations-- Laticrete's 317 thinset mixed with their 333 additive, or Mapei's Kerabond thinset mixed with their Keralastic additive. Either one will hold on and not let go for anything.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 5:01PM
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Thanks, Bill, fondantfancy, and all. At least I'm armed now. Bill, could it be an issue of the small tiles flexing on the mesh?

Unfortunately, it turned out not to be today's issue at all; the only guys at the house were installing the heat pump . . . Well, maybe tomorrow!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 6:01PM
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I trust whatever Bill says.

To ease your mind, 24 years ago when I did my bathroom the tile was not square with the room. He set the saddle first, totally not lined up with the doorframe and set the entire room to it. The tile is small white octagons (maybe 2") with (maybe 1")black squares at a diagonal in between. The effect was like being in a distored fun house. The tile was installed on a mud job reinforced with wire lath and was perfectly flat and even - just dizzy to be in. The second guy installed another layer directly on top (after setting up a straight line). There have been absolutely no issues with that floor. I plan on replacing the sink and toilet soon and maybe tiling the walls; I'm not touching the floor.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 9:44PM
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Bill, could it be an issue of the small tiles flexing on the mesh?

No. Once set, they shouldn't flex at all. One other suggestion I'd make, and that's taking a belt sander with a coarse belt on it and rough up the surface of the old tile to give you a little more "bite".

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 10:07PM
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Thanks, judeny & Bill. I'll lean strongly towards taking the first layer up, but we'll see where it goes. It might be more in my favor to leave that layer down, if it's not a sure recipe for disaster. The tile that's already under the cabinets, of course, has to stay. Tileshop has a 'toe kick grinder' that was mentioned as a way to get the tile that shows up . . . doesn't help that my cabinets have no toe kick!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 11:23AM
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If you're talking about the Crain toekick saw, you want to stay as far away from that thing as you can get. That saw's a death machine, and I'm not exaggerating.

Especially for ceramic mosaics, you can get them out pretty easily using a hammer and chisel.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 7:35PM
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Wow, that sounds ominous! death machine?!? I think he was talking about using whatever it is to separate the part of the tile that is under the cabinet from the part that isn't, and will have to be removed.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 7:54PM
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Go over to John Bridge's site and do a search on "toekick saw". See what you come up with.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 8:31PM
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Wow! thanks to the information I got on this thread, I was able to *gently* make sure that the old tile & backer board would come up! It's supposed to start today.

 certainly hope they stay on their hands & knees, and that they're not using the recalled Crain with the flimsy handle . . .

Thanks, all! Kate.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 3:19PM
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