Installing a backsplash is one of the most popular ways to upgrade your kitchen’s style and functionality. Not only does a backsplash protect your walls from splashes and stains, it also serves as an eye-catching focal point in the kitchen. But what if you already have an existing backsplash and want to update it with a new one? Can you put a backsplash over another backsplash?
Overview: Is it Possible to Install a New Backsplash Over an Existing One?
The short answer is yes, it is certainly possible to install a new backsplash right over an existing one. However, there are a few important factors to consider before taking on this project.
The condition of the original backsplash will impact how easy it is to install the new one. Removing a damaged or deteriorating backsplash is easier than removing one in good shape. The materials used for both the old and new backsplash will also affect the installation process and the amount of preparation work required.
Overall, putting a new backsplash over an existing one is definitely doable, but will require more time, effort, and materials compared to installing a backsplash on a clean wall. Careful planning and preparation are needed to ensure proper adhesion and a seamless final look.
What to Consider Before Installing a New Backsplash Over the Old
When deciding whether to install a backsplash over an existing one, there are several key questions you should ask yourself:
What material is the original backsplash made of?
- Tile, plastic panels, and metal will need extra preparation for a new backsplash to adhere properly.
- Materials like wallpaper or laminate may need complete removal rather than just covering over.
What condition is the old backsplash in?
- Backsplashes that are damaged, cracked, or peeling will be easier to remove and install over.
- An intact, securely adhered backsplash will need more effort to cover with a new one.
Does the original backsplash have an even, smooth surface?
- Heavy grout lines or 3D tile surfaces will need to be smoothed down before installing the new backsplash.
- Ideally the old backsplash should be made as even as possible for proper adhesion.
What material will the new backsplash be made of?
- Heavy materials like natural stone tiles may require additional bracing and support.
- Lightweight materials like vinyl stick-on tiles can be applied directly over most smooth backsplashes.
How large an area needs to be covered?
- Small 3-4 square foot focal point backsplashes will be simpler than replacing a full backsplash along the whole wall.
Are there any electrical outlets, switches, or appliances in the backsplash area?
- These will need to be removed and reinstalled to apply a full backsplash over the old one.
Thoroughly considering all these factors will determine how complex the installation process will be. Carefully evaluating the existing backsplash and choosing an appropriate overlay material will lead to the best end results.
Preparing the Old Backsplash for Covering
Once you’ve decided that you can safely cover the old backsplash, proper preparation is crucial for a successful installation. Here are the key steps:
Cleaning the Surface
Grease, dirt, and residue will impair adhesion. Clean the old backsplash thoroughly with household degreasers and rinse well.
Repairing Damage and Imperfections
Fix any cracked tiles, gaps, peeling grout, or holes for an even surface. Use grout repair kits, sealants, spackling, or caulk as needed.
Removing Protruding Pieces
File or grind down any bumps, rough grout lines, or protruding tiles so the area is as smooth as possible.
Applying a Separation Layer (Optional)
For slick surfaces like metal or plastic, add a coat of primer or thinset mortar to aid adhesion.
Removing Outlets and Switches
Take out any outlets, switches, or fixtures in the backsplash area to allow full coverage with the new backsplash.
Adding Support Bracing (as Needed)
For heavy stone backsplashes, brace the old backsplash support studs to handle the extra weight.
Thoroughly prepping and evening out the old backsplash will provide the ideal surface for applying the new backsplash materials.
How to Install the New Backsplash Over the Existing One
Once the old backsplash has been prepped, it’s time to apply the new materials. The installation technique will vary depending on the type of backsplash chosen:
Tile Over Existing Tile
Apply a layer of thinset adhesive over the old tile and use tile spacers between new tiles for even spacing. Take care to match grout lines.
Tile Board Over Existing Tile
Screw cement backer board directly over old tile and then apply thinset and new tile over the board.
Peel-and-Stick Vinyl Over Existing Tile/Backsplash
Clean the surface thoroughly, measure and cut vinyl to size, peel off backing, and firmly press onto old backsplash.
Snap-Together Plastic Panels Over Existing Tile
Wipe the old tiles clean, apply adhesive pads, and press the panels into place per manufacturer instructions.
Natural Stone Veneer Panels Over Existing Tile
Adhere a cement backer board first, then apply mortar and the stone veneer pieces according to the product instructions.
The key is using the appropriate adhesive or backing for the new backsplash material to ensure proper application directly over the old backsplash. Follow all product specifications closely.
Tiling a Fresh Backsplash Over Existing Tile
One of the most common backsplash installation projects is adding new tile over an existing tiled backsplash. Here is a step-by-step overview:
- Tile separating/cutting tools
- Thinset mortar and grout
- Trowel, grout float, and sponge
- Tile spacers
- New tile selections
Step 1: Prepare the Surface
Follow the steps above for cleaning, repairing damages, removing protrusions, etc. Grind down grout lines or use tile leveling systems as needed.
Step 2: Apply Thinset Mortar
Apply a layer of thinset adhesive mortar over the entire area using a notched trowel. Thinset provides a strong bond.
Step 3: Add Tile Spacers
Place temporary spacers between each of the new tiles to allow consistent grout line spacing.
Step 4: Apply New Tiles
Press the new tiles into the thinset mortar, using the spacers to align them evenly.
Step 5: Allow Tile to Set
Let the tiles fully adhere and the thinset to dry completely per manufacturer directions. Typically this takes 24 hours.
Step 6: Grout the New Tiles
Mix grout and apply it over the tiles to fill in seam lines. Let dry slightly and then sponge off excess.
Step 7: Seal the Grout
Once fully dried, apply a grout sealing product to protect grout from stains. Allow to dry.
The result will be a refreshed backsplash with an updated look, while still saving the effort of fully removing the original backsplash.
Common Questions about Installing Over an Existing Backsplash
Many homeowners have additional questions about the process of covering an old backsplash with a new one:
Does the original backsplash have to be removed?
In most cases, an existing backsplash does not need to be taken down, as long as it is still in good condition and properly prepped. Installing right over it is fine in many situations.
Do I have to use the same tile size or pattern?
The new backsplash tiles do not have to match the old; feel free to use a completely different size, color, or style. Just be sure to account for an uneven surface.
Can I install new backsplash tile over drywall instead?
It is not recommended to tile directly over drywall, as it does not provide enough support. Installing over the old tile or other backing is best.
What about electrical outlets in the backsplash area?
Any outlets or switches need to be removed prior to installation since the new backsplash will cover the entire wall surface. Outlets can be reinstalled over the new backsplash.
Is it okay if the old backsplash is glossy or sealed?
Glossy surfaces need to be sanded or etched to allow proper adhesion for the new backsplash materials.
How long will this project take?
Prepping and installing over an existing backsplash typically takes 2-3 days in total. Removing the old backsplash first would add considerable time.
Carefully considering these frequently asked questions will ensure your particular project goes smoothly from start to finish.
Tips for Achieving a Seamless Look Installing Over Old Backsplash
When installing a fresh backsplash over an existing one, you’ll want to take steps to achieve a streamlined, coordinated finished look:
Choose complementary colors and styles
Select new backsplash tile or panels that match the tones in your kitchen so the transition between old and new blends seamlessly.
Use matching grout colors
Replacing only the tiles? Use same grout color as old backsplash so tile lines flow naturally together.
Maintain straight grout lines
Take care to align new tiles properly so the grout lines continue logically from old to new backsplash.
Transition edge to edge
If possible, start new backsplash tiles directly adjacent to last tiles of old backsplash for smooth visual line.
Wrap border edges cleanly
If old backsplash has a trim border, try to start new materials exactly at border edges for clean transition.
Make sure lighting casts an even glow over both sections of backsplash to minimize visual differences.
Blend styles cohesively
Combining highly disparate tile shapes or mosaic patterns can look disjointed. Keeping overall style consistent creates flow.
With proper planning, material selection, and installation focus, your new backsplash can beautifully integrate with the existing one.
Professional Installation for Seamless Results
While installing a backsplash over an existing one is certainly a DIY-friendly project for many homeowners, for seamlessly flawless results it may be wise to hire a professional installer.
Experienced contractors have the specialized tools and expertise to:
- Provide guidance on the best overlay materials to use
- Effortlessly remove old backsplash if needed
- Smooth and prepare existing backsplash for ideal adhesion
- Perfectly integrate outlets, switches, and plumbing fixtures
- Have access to a wide selection of quality backsplash products
- Use precision techniques for cutting, fitting, and grouting new materials
- Achieve completely smooth, aligned finished results
Though professional installation may cost more upfront, the added peace of mind and assurance of high-quality results can be worth the investment in this backsplash project.
The Bottom Line – Yes, You Can Put Up a New Backsplash Over the Existing One!
Installing a fresh backsplash directly over your existing backsplash is absolutely possible, saving you from having to fully remove and dispose of the original. With careful prep work, using the appropriate overlay materials and tactics, and focusing on smooth finished transitions, your new backsplash can seamlessly integrate with and upgrade the old one.
While this project requires more precision and effort compared to a new backsplash on a blank wall, the end results are well worth it. Follow the preparation, installation, and finishing tips outlined here to achieve backsplash success. Or consider hiring a pro for guaranteed flawless execution.
Either way you choose to approach updating your backsplash, the answer is yes – you can put a backsplash over another backsplash and end up with a cohesive, eye-catching kitchen focal point. With strategic planning and skilled execution, your kitchen can have a stunning “new” backsplash without needing to gut the entire thing.
FAQ About Installing a New Backsplash Over the Existing One
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about installing a new backsplash over an old one:
Can I use a different tile layout or pattern for the new backsplash?
Yes, you do not have to match the tile size, grid pattern, or design of the existing backsplash. Feel free to use a completely different tile layout in order to update the look. Just be sure the new tiles will adequately adhere to the surface.
Do I need to take down the old backsplash first?
In many cases, it is not necessary to fully remove the old backsplash, as long as it is properly prepared and serves as a suitable surface for the new materials to adhere to. However, a damaged or deteriorating backsplash is better replaced completely.
What about the grout lines between the old and new tiles?
It is best to try and achieve straight, aligned grout lines from the old tiles to the new. This gives the most cohesive look. Having the new grout lines off-set from the old ones can look disjointed.
How do I prep glossy or sealed tile for installing over?
Glossy tiles must be scuffed up using sandpaper or etched with an etching solution so the new materials can bond. Sealed tiles like marble need the sealant stripped off using chemical removers or abrasion.
Do I need special tools or materials to prep the old backsplash?
Standard household tools like putty knives, screwdrivers, and sandpaper can be used. For heavy prep work, a multi-tool oscillating scraper is very useful. Primers, mortars, or abrasive etching solutions may also be needed.
Can I install natural stone backsplash over existing tile?
Yes, natural stone can be installed over existing tile backsplashes. Stone veneer panels are a great option. Be sure to prep the surface and add support braces for the weight of real stone. Adhere according to product specifications.
How long will it take to install the new backsplash?
Depending on the size of the area and materials used, installing over an existing backsplash typically takes 2-3 days from start to finish. Removing the old backsplash first adds considerable demolition time.
Should outlets be removed before installing the new backsplash?
Yes, any outlets, switches, or fixtures in the backsplash area will need to be removed before installation, so the new backsplash can be applied to the entire wall surface. Outlets can be reinstalled over the new backsplash.
Is it better to hire a pro for this project?
For flawless results and an expert job, hiring a professional backsplash installer is advisable. They have the skills to perfectly transition from old to new backsplash for a streamlined look.
Can You Put a Backsplash Over Another Backsplash? – In Conclusion:
- It is possible to install a new backsplash directly over an existing backsplash in many cases. The key is proper preparation and using the right overlay materials.
- Consider the condition of the old backsplash, its surface, existing grout lines, and type of material when deciding if covering over it will work.
- Prepping should include cleaning, evening out the area, adding support as needed, and removing outlets and protrusions.
- Common backsplash materials like ceramic tile, plastic panels, and peel-and-stick vinyl can adhere over old backsplash.
- For best results, take steps to achieve a cohesive transition between the old and new sections.
- Hiring a professional provides expertise, tools, and precision for flawless installation over an existing backsplash.
- With strategic planning and skillful installation, you can absolutely upgrade just the backsplash while leaving the original intact.