Can You Put Backsplash on Top of Tile?

Installing a new backsplash can completely transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom. However, if you already have existing tile that you don’t want to remove, you may be wondering if you can simply install a new backsplash right over the old tile. The short answer is yes, it is possible to put backsplash on top of existing tile. Here is what you need to know about adding a backsplash over tile.

Preparing the Existing Tile Surface

Before installing the new backsplash, you need to make sure the existing tile is properly prepared. Here are the key steps:

Clean the Tile Thoroughly

Use a strong degreaser to clean off any dirt, grease or soap scum on the existing tile. You want the surface to be completely free of any residues.

Check for Cracks or Damage

Examine the existing tile for any cracks, missing grout, or damage. Any major issues need to be repaired prior to installing the backsplash.

Rough Up the Surface

Use a sander or grinder to lightly scuff up the surface of the tile. This helps the new backsplash adhere properly.

Apply a Skim Coat if Necessary

If the existing tile is very uneven, you may need to spread a thin layer of mortar or spackle over it to create a more uniform surface for the backsplash. Allow any skim coat to fully cure as per the manufacturer’s directions.

Once the tile is cleaned, repaired, and roughed up, it should be ready for the new backsplash installation.

Choosing the Right Backsplash for Tile

You have lots of options when it comes to selecting a backsplash that will work over existing tile:


Ceramic, porcelain or natural stone tile are all great choices. Select a tile style and color that complements your existing tile while giving the space an updated look.


Metal backsplashes like copper, stainless steel or tin can install right over tile and provide a sleek, contemporary aesthetic.


Glass tile or sheet glass backsplashes are seamless and water-resistant, making them a smart choice for bathrooms and kitchens. They easily adhere over existing tile.

Stone Slab

Slim stone slabs like quartzite, soapstone or granite can be applied over tile for a natural stone statement wall look.


For a warm, rustic accent wall, wood planks can affix to tile with construction adhesive. Use a waterproof wood species like teak or use pressure-treated boards.

No matter what material you choose, always select high-quality, durable products intended for backsplash use.

How to Install a Backsplash Over Tile

Installing a backsplash over existing tile is a relatively straightforward DIY project. Here is a general overview of the installation process:

Step 1: Prepare the Surface

Follow the steps above to ensure the tile surface is clean, repaired, roughened up and ready for the new backsplash.

Step 2: Plan Your Design

Map out the backsplash design and make any necessary cuts before you get started. Measure carefully to ensure the new backsplash fits properly.

Step 3: Apply Mortar or Adhesive

Spread a layer of thinset mortar or construction adhesive on the back of the backsplash pieces as well as on the surface of the existing tile.

Step 4: Set the Backsplash

Press the backsplash pieces firmly into place. Use spacers to maintain even grout lines. Allow the mortar or adhesive to fully cure.

Step 5: Grout if Necessary

For backsplash tiles, grout the joints according to manufacturer’s directions. Cleanup any excess grout.

Step 6: Seal and Finish

Apply any necessary sealers or finish coats based on the backsplash materials used. Caulk edges for a clean finish.

And that’s it! Take your time and make sure each step is done properly. Tiling over tile may take a little extra effort but can give older surfaces a brand new look.

FAQs About Installing Backsplash Over Tile

Can you put backsplash over cracked tile?

No, it is not recommended to install backsplash over cracked or damaged tile. Any cracked tiles need to be removed and replaced before applying the new backsplash.

What about putting backsplash over dirty tile?

Existing tile must be thoroughly cleaned before applying a new backsplash. Grease, dirt and soap scum can prevent proper adhesion.

Should you rough up glossy tile before adding backsplash?

Yes, glossy tiles should be lightly sanded or scuffed to help the backsplash bond properly.

Is new mortar required over existing tile?

In most cases, yes. New thinset mortar helps adhere the backsplash. But for some materials like sheet glass, adhesive may work.

Can you apply backsplash over existing kitchen or bathroom backsplash?

Yes, you can install a new backsplash right over an existing one. Just make sure the old backsplash is solidly adhered and properly prepped.

What’s the best backsplash for bathrooms over tile?

Water-resistant materials like glass, metal, and premium porcelain tile suit humid bathroom spaces. Avoid wood or permeable stone.

Do you need backer board over tile for backsplash?

No. Since tile is already a solid surface, you do not need to add backer board. Just apply the backsplash right over the tile.


Installing a fresh backsplash is a great way to revitalize outdated or tired tile surfaces. With proper preparation and careful installation, it is certainly possible to add a backsplash over existing bathroom or kitchen tile. Carefully follow all the steps for cleaning, repairing, and roughening up the tile before setting the new backsplash. Take your time to do the prep work and installation correctly. With a little effort, you can achieve a beautiful new backsplash without needing to remove or replace the tile underneath. Just be sure to choose backsplash materials that are durable and designed for use around water or heat depending on the location. With the right backsplash installed properly over the tile, you can easily provide a stylish updated look.