Can You Put Tile Over Formica Backsplash?

Installing tile over an existing formica backsplash is a popular DIY project for renovating kitchens and bathrooms. With some preparation, tile can be successfully installed over formica to upgrade the look of the space. Here is a detailed guide on how to put tile over formica backsplash.

Overview of Putting Tile Over Formica Backsplash

Formica is a heat-resistant plastic laminate that was commonly used on countertops and backsplashes in kitchens and bathrooms from the 1950s through the 1980s. It provides a smooth, durable, water-resistant surface. However, the look of formica can appear dated over time.

Tile offers a timeless, elegant option for upgrading backsplashes. Ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone tile can be installed over properly prepared formica. This allows you to achieve a new tiled look without having to completely remove and replace the existing formica backsplash.

When installing tile over formica, careful surface preparation is key. The formica must be thoroughly cleaned, sanded, and primed to create a suitable adhesion surface for the tile and thinset mortar. Additional backing materials, like cement board, may also need to be installed over the formica to build it out to the proper thickness. With careful prep work, the tile installation process is straightforward.

The end result is a like-new tiled backsplash that covers over the outdated formica. This project can help modernize a kitchen or bathroom’s style without major renovation work.

Benefits of Installing Tile Over Formica Backsplash

There are several benefits to installing tile over an existing formica backsplash:

  • Cost-effective: Covering formica with tile is much cheaper than removing and replacing the entire backsplash area.
  • Less messy: Leaving the formica intact avoids demolition messes.
  • Faster: Installing over formica is generally quicker than starting from scratch.
  • Retains function: The formica remains as a water-resistant base layer.
  • Design upgrade: Tile offers countless style options compared to dated formica.
  • Increased home value: A tile backsplash increases resale value versus old formica.
  • DIY friendly: This is a DIY-friendly project for homeowners wanting to upgrade their space.

Overall, putting tile over formica provides an easy upgrade to transform the look of a backsplash area without major renovation work.

Preparing Formica Backsplash for Tile

Proper preparation is crucial for successful tile adhesion over formica. Here are the key steps:

Clean and Sand

  • Clean the formica thoroughly with an all-purpose cleaner or degreaser. Rinse well.
  • Lightly sand the entire formica surface using 100-150 grit sandpaper. This roughens up the slick formica for better tile bond.

Check for Damage

  • Inspect the formica and repair any holes, gouges, or missing areas with formica patch kits.

Prime the Surface

  • Apply a coat of primer designed for laminates. This gives added grip for the thinset mortar.

Build Out Surface

  • Formica is typically 1/16″ thick. Tile needs 1/4″ to 1/2″ thickness. Install cement backerboard over formica to build it out to the right thickness.

With the proper prep work, the formica backsplash will be ready for thinset mortar and tiles.

How to Install Tile Over Formica Backsplash

Once the formica is prepped, you can move on to the tile installation. Follow standard tiling techniques:

Step 1: Mark the Tile Layout

  • Measure the backsplash area and mark the tile layout with chalk lines as guides.

Step 2: Apply Thinset Mortar

  • Use a notched trowel to spread a layer of thinset mortar over the primed formica surface.

Step 3: Place the Tile

  • Working in small sections, place the tiles in the thinset and use spacers for even grout lines.

Step 4: Let Tile Set

  • Allow the tile to set undisturbed for 24-48 hours.

Step 5: Grout the Tile

  • Mix grout and apply it over the tile joints using a grout float. Wipe away excess.

Step 6: Seal the Grout

  • Once cured, seal the grout lines with grout sealer for protection.

And that’s it! With some elbow grease on prep, tiling over formica is a straightforward weekend project.

FAQs About Installing Tile Over Formica

Can you put tile directly over formica?

No, tile should not be placed directly against formica. The formica surface needs preparation and built up to the proper thickness to support the tile.

Whatthickness of cement board should be used over formica?

Typically 1/4″ to 1/2″ cement board is installed over formica to build it out to a suitable thickness for tiling.

Does formica need to be sealed before tiling?

Sealing formica before tiling is not mandatory. However, using a primer improves adhesion. Some tilers recommend sealing with a 50/50 primer/water solution.

What type of tile works best over formica?

Ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone will all work. Mosaics can also be used with additional preparation. Avoid fragile tiles prone to cracking.

How soon can you install tile after installing formica?

It’s best to wait several weeks after new formica installation to allow any residual moisture between the formica and wall to fully dry before tiling.


Installing tile over existing formica backsplash or countertops provides a budget-friendly way to upgrade the look of a kitchen or bathroom. With proper preparation to ensure good adhesion, the existing formica can be covered in the tile style of your choice. Carefully following installation best practices will result in a successful makeover project that transforms the space with a fresh tiled surface.