Installing a new backsplash can instantly update the look of your kitchen or bathroom. However, if your existing backsplash is still in good condition, you may wonder if you can simply install a new backsplash right over the old one. Here is what you need to know about putting backsplash on top of existing backsplash.
What is a Backsplash?
A backsplash is a protective surface installed on the wall behind sinks, stoves, and other wet areas. Backsplashes are typically made of tile, metal, glass, or other water-resistant materials. The main purposes of a backsplash are to:
- Protect the wall from water damage and stains
- Provide an accent wall that matches the decor
- Make clean-up easier by providing a smooth, washable surface
Backsplashes not only serve functional purposes but also provide design opportunities to personalize a space.
Can You Install New Backsplash Over Old?
In most cases, it is possible to install a new backsplash right over an existing backsplash. There are a few things to consider first:
Condition of Original Backsplash
- If the original backsplash is in good shape with no damaged or missing tiles, it can likely support a new backsplash.
- Cracked, loose, or missing tiles should be repaired or replaced before installing the new backsplash.
Smoothness of Original Backsplash
- The new backsplash will follow the contours of the existing wall and backsplash.
- If the original backsplash has an uneven surface, it could create an uneven look with the new backsplash.
Weight of New Backsplash
- Make sure the original backsplash and wall can support the weight of the new backsplash materials.
- For example, natural stone or glass tile will be heavier than ceramic tile.
As long as the original backsplash is in good condition, installing right over it is usually fine structurally. The key is prepping the surface properly.
How to Install New Backsplash Over Existing
Installing over an existing backsplash is similar to installing on a new wall. Follow these general steps:
1. Clean and Prep the Existing Backsplash
- Clean thoroughly to remove all grease, soap residue, and grime.
- Sand any painted surfaces to roughen them up for better adhesion.
- Repair any damaged areas and replace any missing tiles.
2. Apply Cement Board if Needed
- If the existing backsplash is tile or textured, applying a smooth cement board on top provides a flat surface for the new tile.
3. Mark Your Layout
- Plan the pattern and design. Mark the layout on the wall as a guide for installation.
4. Apply Thinset and New Tiles
- Spread thinset adhesive on the wall and press new tiles into place.
- Use a grout float to apply grout between the tiles.
5. Seal and Finish
- Once grout has cured, apply a sealant.
- Caulk along countertops, ceilings, and edges for a finished look.
The key is taking time to properly prep and smooth out the original backsplash prior to installing the new one. This helps ensure proper adhesion and a smooth finished look.
Pros and Cons of Installing Over Existing Backsplash
There are some pros and cons to consider when deciding whether to install over an existing backsplash:
- Saves time and money on demo of original backsplash
- Avoids repairs to wall behind original backsplash
- Provides smoother surface than bare wall
- Less dust and debris than demolishing old backsplash
- Uneven original surface can show through new tiles
- Thicker finished surface on wall
- Need to prep and smooth original backsplash surface
- Existing backsplash limits design layout options
Alternatives to Installing Over Backsplash
If the original backsplash is in rough shape or you want a fresh surface, some alternatives include:
- Demolishing and Removing Old Backsplash: This allows you to start fresh but creates more debris and drywall repairs.
- Applying New Cement Board Over Old: This levels out the old backsplash and provides a uniform surface for new tile.
- Painting Over Old Backsplash: Priming and painting updates the look without installing new tile.
- New Wall Covering Over Old: Install wood panels, shiplap boards, or another covering directly over old backsplash.
No matter which method you choose, the key is properly preparing the surface for the new backsplash installation. Taking time to clean, sand, patch, and level the old backsplash helps ensure the new tile or materials go on smoothly.
FAQs About Installing Over Existing Backsplash
Can I put a backsplash over ceramic tile?
Yes, you can install a new backsplash over existing ceramic tile backsplash as long as the old tile is in good condition. Smooth any grout lines, roughen the glossy tile surface, and apply a cement board before installing the new backsplash.
What if parts of my old backsplash are missing?
If sections of the original backsplash tile are missing, you’ll need to patch those areas before installing the new backsplash. Use cement, mortar or drywall compound to fill any holes or missing sections to create an even surface.
Should I take down tile backsplash before putting up new?
It is not absolutely necessary to remove an existing backsplash before installing a new one. As long as the old tile is properly prepped, new tile can be successfully installed right over it. However, removing the old backsplash does allow you to address any underlying issues with the wall before tiling again.
How do you prepare an existing backsplash for new tile?
To prepare an existing backsplash for new tile, thoroughly clean the old tiles, sand any painted or glossy surfaces, scrape off any loose grout, caulk around edges and seams, and apply a cement backer board if needed to smooth and strengthen the surface. This provides a flat, stable surface for the new backsplash installation.
Can I put backsplash adhesive straight on old tile?
It is generally not recommended to apply new tile adhesive, or thinset, directly to an existing backsplash without preparation. Old grease, soap residue, and sealants prevent proper adhesion. The old tiles should be sanded, cleaned, and potentially flattened with a layer of cement backer board before applying new thinset and tile.
Installing a new backsplash over an existing backsplash is certainly possible in many situations. As long as you properly clean and prepare the old backsplash tiles first, a new backsplash can be applied right on top. This can provide a quicker and easier update than demolishing the old backsplash first. However, removing the old backsplash does allow you to remedy any underlying issues and provides for a fresh surface. Consider the condition of the existing tile, the complexity of the new design, and your budget when deciding whether to install over or replace an old backsplash. With the right preparation, a new layer of tile can update the look of your kitchen or bath backsplash.