Tile Installation Help: Start from scratch? | MTO Blog
Tile Installation Help: Do we have to start from scratch? (Part 1)

Tile Installation Help: Do we have to start from scratch? (Part 1)

We’ve all heard the stories of someone deciding to rip up their old carpet and finding out there was wood underneath that no one ever removed. For one reason or another, someone had decided just to remove it all and start fresh from scratch. Did you know that the same scenario can occur when installing new tile?


You might find yourself with the option to reuse to the previous underlayment or just go straight over the existing tile. The question is, should you?


Scenario: Old Underlayment

So we’ve gone through the demolition process and removed the previously installed tile. Now all that remains is the old underlayment. This can be a tempting place to save money by reusing it, but, due to wear, age, and a few factors related to installation and removal there are a few questions that should be asked before even thinking of this:

  • Is the old installation being removed due to a failure?
  • What was the fault?
  • Was it structural? Or an issue with the original install?
  • Was the membrane still sufficiently well adhered and able to properly support the new installation?
  • Did it remain intact during the process of removing the original tile?


Even if you can confidently answer these questions, your safest bet is to remove the old material in its entirety. Otherwise, you accept the risk of your new install failing due to lack of support from the used underlayment in it’s “as-is” condition.


Making sure you remove ALL of the old residues is just as important as verifying the material is safe to use. Any old residue may prevent a proper bond from forming with the new tile installation and ensuring a failure being only a matter of time. We call these “bond-breakers,” and it’s better to avoid them at all costs.


Reusing old substrates

So you’ve decided to accept the risk and reuse the previous material for your installation. You should try to use a bond enhancing primer to help further reduce your odds for failure in the new install. If you can’t, then you also have the option of mechanically abrading the substrate. 


Abrading, or a process of wearing down the surface, can help remove any remaining foreign matter or leftover residue which could function as a bond-breaker and doom your installation to fail.


Keep an eye out for Part 2 where we go over whether or not you should tile over tile.


Mosaic Tile Outlet – Your definitive source

Whatever your style or choice may be, you can count on Mosaic Tile Outlet’s massive variety of mosaic to fit any style you have in mind. Simple, neutral, traditional or modern, we’ve got you covered.


Be sure to read our recent 2 part post as well about Installing floor


Leonardo Villalobos


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