Can existing tiles be tiled over?

Can existing tiles be tiled over?

If you want to give your bathroom or kitchen a fresh look, laying some new tiles can be a great way to do it. There are plenty of interesting tile designs and colours out there to choose from; click here for some inspiration. Once you have decided which tiles you like, can existing tiles be tiled over?

The good news is that you can tile over ceramic tiles that you already have in place. You just need to make sure you follow all the necessary steps. We’re going to take you through those steps, in this post.

Laying tiles over tiles

Deciding whether the current tiles can be tiled over

Even though it’s possible to tile over ceramic tiles, this doesn’t mean that you should always do so. You need to check that the tiles are in reasonable condition and aren’t lose. If the current tiles are damaged or wobbly, they’re not going to create the firm surface you need for the new tiles.

Laying tiles over grout

Preparing the current tiles for the new tiles

Once you’ve established that you have a suitable surface in place, you need to take certain actions to prepare it, so that you can successfully complete your tiling project. Here’s the preparation that’s necessary:

  • Get rid of any areas that are higher than the rest of the surface. In order for your tiling job to be successful, you need to be working with a flat surface. If there are any spots standing proud, they have to be ground away before you progress.
  • Smooth out the surface, now that it’s flat. You can smooth the surface simply by sanding the area.
  • Make sure that the area is clean and that there’s no loose grout on the surface. The best way to get rid of any surface dirt is to take a vacuum cleaner over the area. You then need to wash the entire surface thoroughly. After the washing is complete you need to give the area time to dry completely.

You may think that all this preparation sounds like a lot of hard work, but it’s necessary if you want the tiling to look good, and to be durable, once the job is complete. After completing the preparation, you then need to apply the thinset so you can put the new tiles in place.

Tiling over tiles that are currently in place is certainly possible, and it’s often a simple process. If you come across any problems, or you don’t feel confident of doing a good job, you may want to hire a professional tiler, instead of doing the job yourself. They have the experience to put to use in ensuring you get the successful results you’re after. New tiling can give a fresh feel to a kitchen or bathroom on its own, or you may want to include it as part of a bigger renovation project, to liven up your home, and increase its market value.


Designer Desire: Ann Wynn-Reeves

Collage of Ann Wynn-Reeves ceramic works | H is for Home

Ann Wynn-Reeves, in our opinion, is one of the most gifted, distinctive British ceramic designers of the 20th century.

Not much is known about her as an individual, we couldn’t even find a photograph of her on the internet. She’s the wife of the late Kenneth Clark who is much more well-known than Wynn-Reeves. They spent a lifetime working together – she created the designs and he translated them into ceramic form, especially tiles.

Some of her tile designs are currently being reproduced by Robert Opie. It has even been made in miniature form for dolls’ houses (see the image right, 3rd from the top)!

Image credits:

Mallams | Pinterest | Etsy | eBay | Flickr | Planet Utopia

A small bathroom makeover with a great tile effect

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White tiled shower roomimage credit: The Design Chaser

Many homes have one or more small-sized bathrooms, if you have one you’ll want to make the space seem as large as possible. Knowing how to choose the right tiles is a great start in doing this.

Choosing the wrong tiles can make a small bathroom look as though there’s even less space in it. You just need to put a little thought into your remodelling to reverse that and create a roomy feel.

white tiled bathroomimage credit: Into the Gloss

The Colour

A bathroom is always going to appear larger if its décor is mostly light in colour; cream or traditional white are an excellent choice if you want to create the effect of space. Of course, these colours may be a little too traditional and basic for some tastes. If you want to add a splash of colour to the proceedings do it with a mirror with a bright frame. This has the added advantage of being another giver of a feeling of space. Your towels can also be a great way of brightening your bathing area. You can even complement accessories with edgings for the tiled area.

green tiled showerimage credit: James Balston Photography

The Size

It’s not a good idea to use really large tiles in a smaller-sized bathroom; likewise very small tiles are not ideal. The smaller the tiles, the larger the amount of grout that’s visible. You can click here to learn more. Medium-sized tiles are usually the best choice, less grouting and less cutting than would be required for larger tiles. That being said, where there’s very little exposed wall, such as between units, smaller tiles can be the optimum way of filling a hard to tile area.

blue mosaic tiled wall border above a WCimage credit: Better Homes and Gardens

The Pattern

Huge, fussy patterns are not a good idea in a small space; they’re overwhelming and lead to an overfull feel. Likewise, really intricate patterns in the minimum of space can be very uneasy on the eye and feel a little claustrophobic. If you want to use patterned tiles in a small bathroom the best way to do it is to use them intermittently, as a splash back or as a border. Another technique of adding interest to a bathroom without reducing appearance of space is to choose light, same-coloured tiles that have some texture to them.

dark tiles on a bathroom wall laid on the diagonalimage credit: Home Designing

The Installation

Most people lay their bathroom tiles in a traditional straight row, straight tile pattern; it’s by far the most popular positioning technique. Diverting from the norm, by adopting a diagonal pattern, fools the eyes into thinking that the area covered by the tiles is larger than it actually is. Another great way of giving the sense of additional dimension to a bathroom is to use matching wall and floor tiles in a lighter tone. By doing this you allow the interior design to flow right through the room which makes it seem less cluttered and larger.

A small space can be just as beautiful as a larger one; it just requires a little creativity of thought.

Porcelain or Ceramic Tile?

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Floorcraft Catlin porcelain floor tiles in a bathroom

Tile is a popular, practical and elegant flooring choice that looks great in virtually any home. Because of its durability, it’s excellent for any room – perfect for busy families and areas of heavy foot traffic. Tile flooring is low maintenance, easy to clean, moisture resistant and flexible. There is also a wide range of beautiful glazes & finishes. Ceramic and porcelain are two of the most popular and common types of tile flooring. But what’s the difference between them?

dark Design Distinctions Pearson Mosaic tiled bathroom

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is formed from red or white clay covered in a protective glaze and fired in a kiln. It’s available in a wide array of earthy tones, vibrant hues and distinctive patterns. It offers lots of creative options for traditional or contemporary interiors in areas where there is light to moderate footfall.

Design Distinctions copper ceramic tile flooring

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain is known for its beauty and incredible lustre. It is created under extreme temperature & pressure conditions which enhances the tiles durability. This manufacturing process means it’s denser, smoother and more impervious to moisture than ceramic, making it perfect for either indoor or outdoor settings. Carrying flooring through from interior to exterior – out to a patio, for instance, can be very effective visually – enhancing the sense of space & drawing the outdoors in. With a wide range of colours, textures and patterns, porcelain can add beauty & character to any room. Depending on your preference, porcelain is available in both a gloss and matte finish.

Dark American Olean Siena Springs porcelain floor tiles in a bathroom overlooking a lake & mountains

Perhaps one of the best things about tile flooring is the ability to lay it in a variety of distinctive patterns that immediately transforms a space. Eye-catching designs such as a classic black & white chequerboard effect or installing it on the diagonal are good examples. If you’re looking to add a touch of unique beauty to your home, consider tile flooring.


London Calling!

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detail of vintage Trans World Airlines menu depicting a Coldstream guard

We’ve had this London blog on the back burner for some time – exploring London-related designs in books, ceramics and fabric.

vintage 1960s Beefeater tile designed by Kenneth Townsend

It was in featuring Kenneth Townsend tiles in our last post that brought it back to mind. We focused on his ‘Menagerie’ series of tiles in that blog, but did briefly mention his ‘London’ series.

vintage 1960s city gent tile designed by Kenneth Townsend detail of vintage 1960s city gent ceramic tile designed by Kenneth Townsend

This Beefeater and city gent are two more great examples from this latter series.

vintage Chance Glass dish depicting a double-decker bus designed by Kenneth Townsend

He also did London landmark designs for Chance Glass during the same era.

detail of vintage Carltonware moneybox in the shape of a British Bobby vintage Carltonware money box in the shape of a British Bobby

Carltonware Pottery produced a series of money boxes – also from the 1960s – their Coldstream Guard and this Bobby on the beat are also at home in a London blog.

detail of cover of vintage book entitled "A View of London" by Edward Pagram showing a Beefeater and a raven

We picked up this copy of A View of London by Edward Pagram in our local book shop. The cover was calling out to us from the window display – when we saw all the sketches inside, it sealed the deal! This is just a small selection:

mosaic of sketches taken from vintage book entitled "A View of London" by Edward Pagram

Another must-have book for the vintage London-ophile is the children’s book, This is London by Miroslav Sasek. His illustrations are truly stunning!

cover of vintage "This is London" boook by Miroslav Sasek

illustration of the Parliament buildings from vintage "This is London" book by Miroslav Sasek

illustration of Smiths the newsagents from vintage "This is London" book by Miroslav Sasek

illustration of an elephant taken from vintage "This is London" book by Miroslav Sasek

illustration of London Underground tube platform from vintage "This is London" book by Miroslav Sasek

illustration of the interior of a packed London Underground tube train taken from vintage "This is London" book by Miroslav Sasek

illustration depicting a ship on the Thames passing under Tower Bridge taken from vintage "This is London" book by Miroslav Sasek

illustration of vegetable traders in Covent Garden market taken from vintage "This is London" book by Miroslav Sasek

This lovely little booklet produced by TWA in the 50s is full of great advice for the US visitor.

vintage TWA "Travel tips for Britain" booklet with illustration of Coldstream Guard

We found this sweet vintage felt picture on Todmorden flea market recently.

vintage felt artwork of London scenes

detail of felt artwork depicting a London policeman at a zebra crossing between a pair of Belisha beacons

We’re particularly fond of this row of Beefeaters marching in front of Tower Bridge.

vintage felt artwork depicting 3 Beefeaters at the Tower Of London

And what do you think about this fantastic vintage tea towel of Oxford Street and its famous Christmas lights…

vintage teatowel of Oxford Street lights in London at night

detail of vintage tea towel showing Oxford Street lights at night in London

…eager shoppers and famous Routemaster buses.

London design tea tray designed by Maria Holmer Dahlgren

There’s some pretty tacky stuff on your average souvenir stall – but there are some fabulous designs being produced as well. This colourful London tea tray designed by Maria Holmer Dahlgren is one such piece which is on our wish list. The tray’s available from the Visit London online shop.

ceramic mug illustrated with the Trooping of the Colour designed by Aldo Cosomati

Or how about this mug from the LT Museum online shop? It’s taken from an original poster designed by Aldo Cosomati in the 1920s.

There’s some really good stuff in both shops – well worth a look!

On the Tiles!

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Vintage Kenneth Townsend hedgehog tile | H is for Home


This is our 100th post – and we’re turning to one of our favourites – artist & illustrator, Kenneth Townsend. In particular, we’re focusing on his ‘Menagerie‘ series of tiles. These tiles received a Design Centre award.

mosaic of vintage Kenneth Townsend tiles from the 'Menagerie' series | H is for Home

The ‘Menagerie’ series featured over 20 different animal designs. He also produced the ‘Horoscope’ and ‘London’ tile series.

vintage Kenneth Townsend designed ceramic tile of Coldstream guardsmen | H is for Home

A new Flickr Group celebrating the works of Kenneth Townsend has just been formed. You’re welcome to join and add your own images or just come and have a look!

vintage Kenneth Townsend designed tile of a cat from the Menagerie series | H is for Home

If you’re interested in starting your own collection, they’re often available in vintage stores. They also come up for sale on eBay quite regularly. Have a look at seller simoncurtis. He’s had quite a few of these tiles for sale recently – and has kindly allowed us to use some of his photos in this blog post.