Can You Lay Tile Over Old Adhesive? Everything You Need to Know!

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Tile adhesive is a bonding agent to stick the tiles firmly to the substrate. There are different types of tile adhesives, so according to the tile, subfloor, and other factors, you must choose the most appropriate bond for the tiling project.

Depending on the type of tiling adhesive, the curing time may vary from 24 hours to a week. Once the tile adhesive is dried, it becomes solid and hard to remove.

Imagine you are planning to reinstall it to enhance the house’s appearance. You start by removing the old flooring and the adhesive.

You notice old glue on the subfloor and wonder whether you can tile over it. The hassle is real when removing old flooring and adhesive. However, if you plan to tile over the old glue, this blog is for you!

Yes, you can tile over the old adhesive. Still, before installing the tiles, you must use an underlayment or leveling compound to level the subfloor. Many professionals do not recommend tiling over the old adhesive. Therefore, removing the old flooring and tile adhesive for a durable project is best. Then prepare the subfloor and apply new glue when reinstalling the tiles.

Tiling Over Old Adhesive

Tiling Over Old Adhesive
Tiling Over Old Adhesive

The two major types of tile adhesives are powder-based and ready-mixed adhesives. When using the powder-based adhesive, you must mix 2.5 parts of the adhesive powder into 1 part of water.

In contrast, dealing with ready-mixed adhesive is simple as there are no pre-preparations. It would be best to evenly spread the tile adhesive on the prepared substrate and then stick the tiles over it. Usually, these adhesives take around 24 hours to cure and produce a tight grip.

The curing time may change according to the brand, climate, and other factors. However, when the adhesive is cured, it turns rock solid, forming a strong bond between the substrate and the tiles.

If you plan to remove the old tiles and retile the floor with new tiles, you might wonder whether removing the old tile adhesive is compulsory. Removing the old tile adhesive is highly recommended, although it is not mandatory.

This means you can tile over the old adhesive. You need to check a few things when tiling over the old adhesive.

  • Examine whether the old tile adhesive is loose or cracked. If there are loose tile adhesives, removing them is better.
  • Check the type of glue used to stick the old tiles. It would be best to use the same tile adhesive when tiling over the old adhesive. Using different adhesives may cause unstable bonding.
  • Use a leveling compound over the old adhesive to level the subfloor.
  • Ensure the old adhesive is in good condition so tiling over it will not ruin the project. If it is hard for you to decide, you can get help from a professional.

How to Remove Old Tile Adhesive

How to Remove Old Tile Adhesive
How to Remove Old Tile Adhesive

As mentioned earlier, removing the old adhesive before laying the new tiling is preferred. Since the cured tile adhesive is rock solid, removing them may be difficult.

Fortunately, there are some DIY hacks that you can use to loosen the tile adhesive and remove it. The two simple methods of removing old adhesives are given below.

Using Warm Water to Remove Old Tile Adhesive

In a bowl of warm water, soak a sponge or a cloth.

Using the soaked cloth, dampen the old adhesive. Work on a small area at a time. Once the tile adhesive softens, you can use a 4-inch scraper to scrape it off.

Clear the residue and repeat the procedure to remove the rest of the adhesive.

Using a Steamer to Remove Old Tile Adhesive

If warm water is not working well, try the steaming method to remove old adhesives.

You can use a wallpaper steamer, a handheld steamer, or an old steam iron to soften the tile adhesive. Hold the steamer close to the old adhesive and move it around. It is advanced not to concentrate the steam in a particular place for longer. Once the adhesive dampens, you can scrape it with a scraper or knife.

Repeat the process until all the adhesive is removed.

Apart from these methods, you may also use commercial tile adhesive remover. We recommend investing in such products only if there is any stubborn adhesive that you cannot remove using DIY hacks.

Nail polish remover is also another method of removing wall tile adhesive. Get some nail polish remover on a piece of cloth and apply it to the spot where the tile adhesive is. Acetone will help soften the tile adhesive. Once the mortar loosens, you can scrape it off.

Pros and Cons of Tiling Over Old Adhesive

Pros and Cons of Tiling Over Old Adhesive
Pros and Cons of Tiling Over Old Adhesive

Many ask whether they can lay tiles over the old adhesive to minimize the hassle. Before laying the tiles or using old adhesive, checking the reliability and durability is crucial.

Following are some pros and cons of tiling over the old adhesive.


  • Reduces the workload.
  • Tiling over old adhesives will save you time and effort, as you will not be spending time removing the old adhesive.
  • This saves you the cost of tile adhesive removers.


  • Using a different adhesive on the old glue will weaken the bonding strength. Hence, this will impact the durability of the project.
  • This may result in an uneven surface due to patches of old adhesive on the subfloor.
  • Possibilities to witness mold and mildew problems.
  • The interaction between the new and old adhesives may cause cracks in the grout.
  • The chemical reaction between the new and old adhesive will weaken the adhesion and result in crumbling flooring.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, the point is clear that it is possible to tile over the old adhesive, but not recommended to do so.

This blog covers all the necessary information regarding tiling over old adhesives and why it is not preferred.

We have also provided some hacks on removing old title adhesives, which might be helpful to remove the glue off the substrate.

Once more, we emphasize that removing the old tile adhesive and preparing the subfloor before laying the new set of tiles is best.

For more information regarding tile adhesive removal, you may also check out blogs on removing tile adhesive from the floor, plaster walls, and concrete floors.


Can I remove the Hardened Tile Adhesive?

You can scrape off the hardened tile adhesive after dampening it with warm water or steam.

Will Nail Polish Remover Soften Old Tile Adhesive?

Yes, the acetone in nail polish remover will help soften the old tile adhesive.

Is It Easy to Remove Old Tile Adhesive?

Removing tile adhesive is easy when you use the proper method and tools. You can use commercial tile adhesive remover in cases of stubborn glue.

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About Charlie D Paige

Charlie is a massive DIY fan, with dozens of DIY projects under his belt - ranging from tiling to electrics, and concrete pads to walls. Charlie loves tinkering, seeing how things works, the outdoors and playing with power tools... so is it any wonder that he's completed so many DIY jobs over the years?

Charlie loves spreading his hard-won DIY experience with the world via this blog.