Can I Put Backsplash Over Existing Backsplash?

Installing a new backsplash over your existing one is definitely possible, but there are a few things to consider before taking on this project. With proper planning and preparation, you can upgrade your backsplash and give your kitchen a fresh new look.

Assessing Your Current Backsplash

Before installing a new backsplash over the old one, you’ll want to assess the condition of the existing backsplash. Here are some key things to check:

  • Material: Is the current backsplash made of ceramic tile, plastic panels, or another material? This will impact how well the new backsplash adheres.
  • Condition: Is the existing backsplash in good shape with no cracks, damage, or missing grout? Any imperfections will likely show through the new backsplash.
  • Cleanliness: Is the existing backsplash free of grease, soap scum, and other debris? This needs to be cleaned off for proper adhesion.

If the current backsplash is in poor condition, it’s best to remove it completely before installing the new one. But if it’s in good shape, you can likely install right over it.

Choosing a New Backsplash

Once you’ve assessed the old backsplash, it’s time to choose your new one. Consider the following:

  • Material: Ceramic tile and metal panels are common choices. Glass tile can also make a beautiful statement.
  • Style: Do you want something bold and graphic, like subway tiles, or an organic look, like marble or stone? Consider the overall aesthetic you’re going for.
  • Color/finish: Matte, glossy, metallic? The finish impacts the overall look and feel.
  • Cost: Budget-friendly options include faux tiles made of vinyl, plastic or metal. Natural stone and quartz are pricier.
  • Ease of installation: Large format tiles or panels are beginner-friendly vs. intricate designs.

Selecting a backsplash that coordinates well with your existing one is key for a cohesive look. Bring home samples to see the full effect.

Preparing the Surface

Once you’ve picked out your new backsplash, proper prep work is crucial for successful installation:

  • Deep clean: Give the existing backsplash a thorough scrubbing with an abrasive cleaner to remove any grime and oils. Rinse well and let dry completely.
  • Sand surface: Lightly sanding the old backsplash will help the adhesive adhere to the new tiles. Be careful not to scratch or damage the surface.
  • Prime: Apply a tile primer over the sanded surface. This gives the adhesive something to grip and prevents moisture issues.

Take your time with the prep work for best results. If the old backsplash is glossy or the wall paint is oil-based enamel, adhesion could be an issue. Consulting a pro may be wise.

Installation Tips and Tricks

When you’re ready for installation, follow these tips:

  • Use proper adhesive: Choose a high-quality tile mastic adhesive suited for your backsplash material. Many can bridge old and new surfaces.
  • Watch grout lines: Be aware of alignment and grout lines between the old and new backsplash. Some offset can create visual interest.
  • Cut carefully: Measure precisely and use a wet saw with a diamond blade for clean cuts around outlets and corners.
  • Grout thoroughly: Be diligent about eliminating gaps and voids when grouting. Caulk edges for a polished look.
  • Seal when done: Use a penetrating sealer suitable for your backsplash material once installed. This prevents stains.

Installing the new backsplash directly over the existing one without removing it can be a big time and money saver when done properly. Taking the time to prep and using the right materials will ensure it adheres correctly and looks seamless.

Common Questions about Installing a New Backsplash Over an Existing One

Can you put tile over existing tile backsplash?

Yes, it is possible to install new tile or stone over an existing tile backsplash. The key is proper prep and using a high-quality tile adhesive designed for bonding to old surfaces. The existing tiles must be well-adhered to the wall and in good condition.

Should I remove old backsplash before installing new?

It’s not required to remove the old backsplash first, but it can make for an easier install if it’s in poor shape. Removing it allows you to start with a blank slate. Consider if imperfections will show through the new backsplash before deciding.

What about asbestos in old tile?

Asbestos was commonly used in floor and wall tiles installed before the 1980s. Never attempt to remove these yourself. Have them professionally removed and disposed of safely. Non-asbestos tiles don’t pose a risk.

Can I put marble over existing ceramic tile?

Natural stone like marble can be installed over existing tile backsplashes. Be sure to use a white polymer-modified thinset adhesive so the dark color doesn’t show through lighter marble. Check for any potential warping issues.

How do I prepare glossy tile for a new backsplash?

Glossy tiles require extra prep. Thoroughly sand the surface with 40-50 grit sandpaper until it’s completely dull. Wipe clean then apply a tile primer/sealer before installing the new backsplash. This allows for proper adhesion.


Installing a new backsplash over an existing one is a home improvement project that can completely transform the look of your kitchen. With careful planning, surface preparation, proper materials, and skillful technique, you can achieve a stylish updated backsplash without the hassle and expense of removing the old one. Use high-quality setting materials, allow ample drying time, seal and grout thoroughly, and your new backsplash will look amazing for years to come. With a little time and effort, you can do it yourself and save.