Can You Put Backsplash Over Old Backsplash?

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 be wondering if you can simply install the new backsplash right over the old one. Here is what you need to know about putting backsplash over an old backsplash.

What to Consider Before Installing New Backsplash Over Old

There are a few factors to consider before deciding to install a new backsplash over an existing one:

Condition of Old Backsplash

  • If the old backsplash is in good shape with no cracks, warping, or missing tiles, it may be possible to install over it. However, any imperfections will likely show through the new backsplash.
  • Grout lines and texture from the old backsplash will also be visible. This gives the finished look a busier appearance.
  • For best results, the old backsplash should be smooth and in immaculate condition.

Thickness of New Backsplash

  • Standard backsplash tiles are often 3/8 inch thick. Installing these over an existing backsplash reduces the clearance to the wall and can make fitting tricky around outlets and switches.
  • Opt for thinner tile or materials like metal or vinyl sheets to maintain more clearance from the wall.

Weight Considerations

  • Natural stone, glass tile, and other heavy materials will add a lot of weight when installed over an existing backsplash.
  • Make sure underlying surfaces can support this added weight to prevent sagging or detachment over time.

Moisture Barrier Issues

  • Covering an old backsplash loses the water-resistant barrier behind the tile. This allows moisture penetration and potential mold growth.
  • Consider adding a waterproof membrane over the old backsplash before installing new tile.

How to Install New Backsplash Over Old

While there are concerns to address, it is possible to install a new backsplash over an existing one with proper preparation and care. Here are the basic steps:

Clean Surface Thoroughly

  • Remove any grease or soap residue from the old backsplash with degreasing cleaners.
  • Scrub grout lines to remove any dirt or grime so the new backsplash adheres properly.

Make Any Repairs

  • Seal any grout cracks with new grout to create an even surface.
  • Use spackle or caulk to fill any holes or uneven areas, allowing to fully cure before tiling.

Add Adhesive Membrane

  • Cover the entire surface with a waterproof adhesive membrane to create moisture barrier.
  • RedGard and Nobleseal TS are two commonly used products. Apply per manufacturer instructions.

Prepare New Backsplash

  • Select backsplash tile or panels that are thin and lightweight to make installation easier.
  • Natural stone, metal, glass, and peel-and-stick vinyl tiles are good options.
  • Cut tiles and panels to fit outlets, switches, and any obstacles in the area.

Apply Thin-set Mortar

  • Use a quality modified thin-set mortar suitable for the backsplash material you are installing.
  • Apply a thin layer evenly across the surface using a notched trowel.

Set New Backsplash

  • Press tiles or panels into the mortar, maintaining even gaps and wiping away excess.
  • Use spacers between tiles or panels to achieve consistent spacing.
  • Allow to fully cure per mortar instructions before grouting or sealing.

Seal and Finish

  • Apply grout between tile joints, wiping away excess. Seal grout once cured.
  • Seal natural stone materials according to manufacturer directions.
  • If using peel-and-stick tile or panels, ensure adhesive is firmly pressed to avoid lifting or curling edges later.

Tips for Achieving Best Results

  • Opt for solid backsplash panels rather than individual tiles to avoid seeing grout lines from the old backsplash.
  • Use matching grout color between new and old backsplash to minimize visible seams if grout lines align.
  • Take time to prepare the wall surface thoroughly for maximum adhesion.
  • Hire a professional installer if uncomfortable doing the work yourself.

Can You Put Backsplash Over Old Backsplash? FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions about installing a new backsplash over an existing one:

Is it okay to put backsplash right over old backsplash?

It is possible, but the old backsplash needs to be in near perfect condition to avoid imperfections showing through or adhesion issues. Covering an old backsplash also eliminates the water barrier behind the tile.

What problems can happen from installing over old backsplash?

Potential problems include new backsplash coming loose over time, cracks or grout lines showing through, increased weight on the wall, and lack of a proper moisture barrier leading to mold growth.

Should old backsplash be removed completely before new one?

Removing the old backsplash completely provides the best outcome for the new installation. This allows inspecting the wall condition, adding proper backing materials, and ensuring a smooth surface for the new backsplash.

Can you put peel and stick backsplash over existing tile?

Yes, lightweight peel-and-stick backsplash tiles or panels can be installed over existing backsplash tile. The adhesive allows them to bond well, just ensure the existing tile is clean and smooth first.

What’s the best way to prepare old backsplash for new installation?

Thoroughly clean the old backsplash, making any repairs to grout or tile. Apply an adhesive waterproof membrane across the entire surface. This helps bond the new backsplash and provides a moisture barrier.


Installing a new backsplash over an old one is certainly possible in many cases. However, it is important to carefully assess the condition of the existing backsplash and understand potential drawbacks before deciding if it is the right choice. Preparing the surface properly and selecting the right backsplash materials will provide the best results. For some situations, removing the old backsplash completely may be the wiser option to start fresh. Consider factors like time, cost, and convenience when weighing installing over or removing an old backsplash. With careful planning and effort, you can achieve the updated backsplash look you want.