Tiling over Tile Backsplash

Today I’m answering a question that I thought I would never really ask, “Can you tile over tile?”

white kitchen cabinets with gray tile backsplash

I’m happy to report the answer is yes! As usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up..

white kitchen cabinets with white subway tile

When we built our house I had all sorts of backsplash ideas for our kitchen, but when it came time to install there was nothing left in the budget. Out went the backsplash of my dreams and classic inexpensive subway tile was the answer. Let me preface by saying I still love classic subway tile, and don’t think it’s going anywhere. This project was just the result of a wild hair I got when cleaning out the garage. Or possibly the results of me wanting to do anything rather than cleaning the garage.

white kitchen cabinets with gray tile backsplash

I always thought we could swap out the tile someday. When I was cleaning the garage I found 3 boxes of leftover tile from the guest cottage kitchen. We forgot to subtract the window square footage from our calculations so we had quite a bit leftover. It struck me that we had enough to tile over the range area in our kitchen! And I have a tile saw! And even the leftover grout! So what was stopping me?? Well nothing! Except I have removed tile before and it’s kind of a nightmare. It can completely ruin your drywall and make re-tiling difficult.

white kitchen cabinets with gray tile backsplash

I started to do a little research and came across Musselbound tile mats. According to their website you can use it over top of tile as long as it’s level, and not a textured surface. I couldn’t really find anyone on the internet that had actually done it, so I decided to be the guinea pig. Spoiler alert – it works!

white kitchen cabinets, with white marble counters and tile backsplash

How to Tile over Tile

  • Clean existing tile
  • Apply Musselbound tile adhesive
  • Tile as normal
  • If you are using a wet saw for cuts you must make sure tile is completely dry before sticking to the musclebound adhesive. I used a hairdryer for this.
  • Grout – even the same day!

I started by cleaning up the subway tile thoroughly, you want it completely clean and dry.

white kitchen project with tiling in progress

The Musselbound tile adhesive is basically like giant rolls of super strength double sided tape. It’s really easy to use. You just remove the sticky backing and stick it on the wall. You apply it vertically similar to wallpaper. In the photo above it’s applied but I haven’t removed the front paper. I removed a section at a time so it was easier to work with.

new kitchen tile backsplash in a kitchen

Then just tile away! One important thing to note – wet tile will not stick to the Musselbound. If you use a wet saw to make cuts the tile must be completely dry before using. You must get it dry, like really dry. I kept a blowdryer handy!

kitchen backsplash with pots hanging on a rack

I can’t believe how fast this went! It was SO much easier than using traditional mastic. The other bonus is you can grout right away – same day.

I started this project in the morning after I dropped my kids off to school, and finished grouting before bedtime.

white kitchen cabinets with navy blue island

One other important note – this may not work for every layout. If you have an unfinished edge you will obviously have a hard time covering up the thickness of the extra tile. We had cabinets running all the way down to the countertops so it wasn’t an issue. I also used longer screws to adjust the electrical boxes to allow for the new depth of the tile.

I’m so happy with the new warmth this tile added to our kitchen. It’s crazy how changing one little thing can make such a big difference.

white kitchen cabinets with a navy blue island

In the guest kitchen I laid the tile in a staggered brick pattern. Here to switch things up, I went with a classic square design and I love the old school charm of it. It pairs really well with our classic inset cabinetry.

white cabinets with gray tile backsplash

Of course this prompted a few other changes in the kitchen that I will share next week!

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3 Comments

  1. Looks stunning! Makes such a big difference. Congratulations!

    How about a shower? Do you think it could sustain that much water and still stick? Thank you for sharing!

  2. I thought the subway tile was pretty, but this is a step up!!! I love it!! Can’t WAIT to see the other changes. Happy Friday!

  3. Looks great, Kel! Quick question, if you wanted to change the look again, would demo be pretty easy since you used Musselbound?

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