Should I junk my bathroom tiles or tile over the old ones?

Q. My bathroom floor tiles are cracked and old. What’s the difference between replacing tiles completely versus tiling over existing tiles, in terms of aesthetics, functionality, price, length of the job, etc.? Also, while we’re at it, can wall tiles be replaced?

Image credit: Brickunderground.com

Image credit: Brickunderground.com

A. Great question. First off, the two options–replacing tiles or tiling over old ones–may not seem all that different, but when you get into the details, they’re two very different projects. Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about each method.

Option A: Pulling the old tiles off and laying new tiles

The pros: You’re able not only to remove the broken tile, but you can also correct both the surface beneath it (the substrate) and the material that makes it impervious to water (the waterproofing). If you’ve been living for a while with cracked tiles, it’s pretty likely that water has already started making its way in. New waterproofing is crucial to making sure that your wall is watertight to avoid further water damage as well as mold and mildew–otherwise water can easily go behind the new tile.

Another advantage of removing the tile is it’s an opportunity to correct any past mistakes or problems in the floor or the wall (bumps, cracks) and to make the space more beautiful. The end result will look much cleaner. If you’ve removed the old tile, your tile-setter can really prepare the new surface and do a job that accepts the new tile more effectively.

Read the full post at Brick Underground’s Renovation Qs, where you can find the unvarnished answers to your renovation conundrums.