Can You Put Backsplash on Tile?

Installing a backsplash is a great way to add visual interest and protect your walls in a kitchen or bathroom. But what if your walls are already tiled – can you still install a backsplash on top of existing tile? The short answer is yes, you can install a backsplash over existing tile with the right preparation and materials. Here is a detailed guide on how to add a backsplash on top of tile.

What to Consider Before Installing a Backsplash Over Tile

There are a few things to take into account before installing a backsplash over existing tile:

Condition of Existing Tile

  • The existing tile must be in good condition with no cracks, damage, or loose tiles. Repair any problem areas before installing the backsplash.

Flatness of Existing Tile

  • The existing tile needs to have a flat surface for the backsplash to adhere properly. Fill any grout lines or uneven areas with thinset mortar to create a smooth surface.

Type of Backsplash Materials

  • Natural stone, ceramic, porcelain, or glass backsplash tiles will adhere better than glossy or metal backsplashes.

Weight of New Backsplash

  • A heavy natural stone backsplash may require additional support over lightweight existing tiles.

Layout and Design

  • Decide on the backsplash layout – do existing grout lines need to be matched or can the new backsplash tile run horizontally/vertically?

As long as the existing tile is in good shape and properly prepared, a new backsplash can be installed successfully.

How to Prepare the Existing Tile Surface

Proper preparation of the existing tiled wall is crucial for the backsplash installation. Here are the key steps:

Clean and Sand the Tile

  • Clean the existing tile thoroughly with an alkaline tile cleaner to remove all grease and soap residue.
  • Lightly sand the glazed tile surface with 30-grit sandpaper to rough up and improve adhesion.

Fill Grout Lines

  • Use unsanded grout to fill any existing grout lines and create a smooth surface. Let the grout dry completely.

Apply Primer/Sealer

  • Brush on a tile primer or sealer to enhance the surface for better backsplash bonding.

Mark the Tile Layout

  • Mark the tile layout on the existing tile based on your design using a chalk line.

Adjust Outlets

  • Turn off electricity and adjust any outlets or switches to accommodate the backsplash tile.

Proper prep of the existing tile provides the ideal subsurface for your new backsplash installation.

How to Install Backsplash on Tile

Once the surface prep of the existing tile is complete, you can move on to the backsplash installation. Follow these key steps:

Spread Thinset Mortar

  • Apply a notch trowel to spread a layer of thinset adhesive mortar on the tile surface for the backsplash.

Apply Backsplash Tiles

  • Press the backsplash tiles into the thinset mortar and use spacers for consistent grout lines.

Let Tiles Set

  • Allow the tiles to set for at least 24 hours before grouting or normal use.

Grout the Backsplash

  • Mix grout and apply to the tile joints. Let dry completely, then polish off excess grout haze.

Seal the Backsplash

  • Use a penetrating grout sealer on the finished backsplash to protect from moisture and staining.

With the right products and proper installation method, the new backsplash over your existing tile will look fantastic and last for years to come. Be sure to maintain with routine cleaning using pH-neutral cleaner.

FAQs About Installing Backsplash Over Tile

Can you put backsplash over cracked tile?

No, it is not recommended to install a backsplash over cracked, damaged, or loose existing tiles. Any problem areas in the existing tile should be repaired or replaced before applying the backsplash.

What type of backsplash is best on tile?

Porcelain, ceramic, or natural stone tiles are best for installing over existing tiles. Avoid highly polished, shiny, or metal backsplash tiles which do not bond as well.

How do you prepare tile for a backsplash?

To prepare tile for a backsplash, clean thoroughly, sand glazed surfaces, fill grout lines, apply primer, and mark the backsplash layout on the tile. This provides the proper surface for backsplash tile bonding.

Can you put peel and stick backsplash over existing tile?

Yes, peel and stick backsplash tiles can be applied over existing tile. Ensure the surface is smooth by filling grout lines. Use caulk between the peeled edges and tile. Apply firm pressure when setting the backsplash tiles.

What thickness of backsplash tile is best?

1/4 inch to 3/8 inch thick backsplash tiles are ideal. Heavier natural stone tiles may require additional support. Thin backsplash tile can crack more easily.

How do you attach backsplash over existing tile?

Use a quality thinset mortar adhesive specifically made for bonding tile. Apply in a notch trowel pattern over the existing tile, press backsplash in place, and let cure fully before grouting.

Is new backsplash over old a good idea?

Yes, installing a new backsplash over properly prepped old tile can update the look of your kitchen or bath without removing the existing tile. It is a great way to refresh the space.


Installing a backsplash over existing tile opens up design possibilities without undergoing a complete tile demolition. With careful surface preparation, quality installation materials, and proper application technique, you can achieve a successful and long-lasting backsplash facelift. Be sure to address any problem areas in the tile prior to installation. Choose backsplash materials suited for application over tile. And take time to properly clean, rough up, prime, and layout your new backsplash design. With the right approach, your new backsplash can provide the perfect finishing touch over your existing tiled surface.