Can You Put Tile on Top of Granite?

If your home has granite surfaces, removing and replacing them with something else can be costly and time-consuming. If you’re considering replacing your house’s granite surfaces with a tiled finish, you might wonder whether you can put tiles on top of granite instead of starting over from scratch. 

You can put tiles on top of granite surfaces using a modified thinset—an adhesive mortar with either a latex or a polymer composition. Before applying thinset to granite surfaces, use a slow grinder to roughen up glossy granite surfaces; otherwise, it would be hard to stick tiles onto them. 

This article will share how to layer tiles on top of granite surfaces. Additionally, I’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to do this on floors and kitchen backsplashes, so if you’re interested, read on!

How To Tile Over Granite?

Adding tiles on top of existing granite surfaces (instead of removing the granite and starting from scratch) can save you time, money, and effort. 

And the best part is you can easily do the job on your own; as long as you have the right tools, instructions, and a decent sense of craftsmanship, you don’t need to hire a professional. 

However, suppose you don’t have experience with any remodeling work or are afraid you’ll end up ruining the look of your house. In that case, I strongly recommend you sit this one out and call a professional for the job—it’s not worth risking your safety or ruining your house’s appearance. 

So, how do you place tiles on top of granite surfaces? Well, the exact steps of the process will depend on the surface you’re trying to remodel. Typically, it’s one of these two things:

  • Granite floors
  • Granite backsplashes and fireplace surrounds

In the following sections, I will outline the steps you need to follow to properly place tiles on top of each of these granite surfaces.  

How To Put Tiles Over Granite Backsplashes and fireplace surrounds

If you’re planning to tile over your granite backsplash or fireplace surround, here are the steps you can follow to clad tiles onto the existing granite surface:

  1. Wear protective gear before you start working.
  2. Cover the surrounding area with a plastic sheet to protect it from dust and adhesives.
  3. If you want to prevent dust and debris from flying elsewhere into the house, set up a plastic barrier from the floor to the ceiling around the area where you’ll be working.
  4. You’ll notice that granite surfaces are pretty glossy, so it’s hard to stick things onto them. To work around this issue, simply use a low-speed grinder to roughen its surface.
  5. After this, use a plumb line to ensure the tile will be vertically even.
  6. Once you’ve done this to the entire granite backsplash, use a small roller to “paint” the granite surface with a primer—they enhance the ability of tile adhesives. 
  7. Use a trowel to evenly spread a thinset mortar onto the granite surface.
  8. Carefully place the tiles on top of this thinset layer and make sure the spaces between them are even (ideally, you should use a spacer for this).
  9. Allow the thinset to dry for a day.
  10. Once the thinset has dried and the tiles are attached firmly to the granite surface, mix the grout according to the manufacturer’s recommendation and apply it to your backsplash or surround to fill the spaces between the tiles.
  11. Use a sponge to quickly wipe off any grout from the surface of the tiles.

By the way, if you want to get a sense of how to use the grinder on the granite surface, here’s a really helpful YouTube video I recommend you watch:

How To Put Tiles Over Granite Floors

Laying tiles over a granite floor is a similar process to the one we discussed above. However, there are a couple of additional considerations you have to account for when remodeling your floor. 

Here is an outline of the steps you need to follow to put tiles on top of granite floors:

  1. Start by wearing protective gear for your eyes, ears, and hands. 
  2. Before starting the process, ensure you’ve already taken all relevant measurements and have your tiles at hand.
  3. Start by using a low-speed grinder to make the surface of the granite floor rough.
  4. This new layer of tiles will elevate the room’s floor slightly. This means you’ll have to re-adjust your door’s jambs for this elevation. To do this, use chalk to mark the new elevation level on the door jamb. 
  5. Then, take a jamb saw to cut through the door jamb and adjust it for the elevation.
  6. Use chalk lines to draw the tile layout of the floor.
  7. Apply a primer on the floor
  8. Use a trowel to evenly spread a layer of thinset on the floor.
  9. Quickly place the new tiles on top of the thinset coating and use a plumber’s level to ensure that the tiles are placed on an even surface. If you notice a tile sinking lower than the others, try adding more thinset beneath it to level it up.
  10. Use spacers to maintain even spaces between the tiles.
  11. Wait one day for the thinset to dry. During this time, don’t step on the tiles or move them in any way.
  12. Once the thinset is finished drying, apply the grout to your tiles and ensure it gets inside the spaces between them. 
  13. Quickly wipe off all of the grout from the surface of the tiles before it dries.

Why Place Tiles on Top of Granite Instead of Removing Existing Granite First?

At this point, you know it’s possible to place tiles on top of existing granite surfaces. Additionally, you know the exact steps you need to follow to correctly layer tiles on top of granite surfaces. 

But is this really a good idea? Is it better to layer tiles on granite, or should you first get the existing granite layer out of the way?

In this section, I will explain why you should consider layering tiles on top of granite surfaces. To help you make a fully informed decision, I will also share some risks you should be aware of if you decide to go ahead with this option.

Benefits of Tiling Over Existing Granite 

Here are a few reasons why you might consider layering your tiles on top of granite surfaces instead of removing the existing granite first:

  • It saves time and effort. A huge plus point of laying tiles on top of granite surfaces is that it saves you a lot of time and energy that would otherwise have to be put into carefully removing old granite tiles.
  • It saves money. Sticking tiles on top of existing granite is DIY-friendly. This means you can save money by doing this work yourself. On the flip side, removing existing granite requires expertise, meaning you would have to pay someone for the job. 
  • Removing existing granite can damage walls. It is not uncommon for walls to get damaged when removing older granite tiles. So, directly sticking new tiles to granite surfaces helps avoid this risk.

Downsides of Tiling Over Existing Granite

Some reasons why you might not want to add tiles on top of granite are as follows:

  • You risk ruining the house’s look. If you don’t pull this off correctly, you risk ruining the look of your house. Your tiled surface won’t look natural if you inaccurately measure or cut your tiles. 
  • It elevates the surface. Surfaces remodeled this way will be elevated. This will be a problem for two reasons.
    • Doors and cupboards are designed to match the current measurements of surrounding surfaces, meaning that adding tiles can hinder their functionality. For example, doors might get blocked by elevated floors.
    • Elevated floors, in particular, are a safety hazard. They can cause you to trip when stepping into an elevated room from a non-elevated room.

One of the surfaces that may have different tiling requirements from the surrounding areas is the bathroom mirror. Read my blog post to see if you should tile behind the bathroom mirror.

Final Words 

To sum up, adding tiles on top of granite surfaces is possible using a modified thinset. Although, before you can do this, you have to prepare the surface a bit by using a grinder to reduce its glossiness and by using a plumber’s level to ensure that it is leveled evenly. 

Layering tile over granite saves time, effort, and money, and you avoid the risk of damaging the house’s walls while removing the granite.

However, you also risk ruining your house’s looks and creating a safety hazard or blocking doors and cupboards with the newly-elevated floor.