Can you tile over drywall?

Can you tile over drywall square

Can You Safely Tile Over Drywall?

At first glance, the idea of installing tile on drywall isn’t the ideal option because drywall seems too fragile to hold the tile, but it’s the most popular material used under wall tiles.

It is possible to tile over drywall where it is not subject to extreme humidity and is secure. It is not recommended to lay tiles over walls and areas subject to moisture, such as in showers. The water in these areas could eventually seep into the tile, causing damage to the tile, mold, or infestations.

In most instances, you’ll be able to put tiles over the drywall. Even an area in the kitchen or bathroom, which is subject to some water, can be set over the drywall.

Do I have the option of tiling over drywall?

In the majority of rooms of your house, you can apply tile to drywall without any issues so long as you first begin by preparing the drywall and making sure you use the correct mortar for the project. It’s safe and reliable and is what most contractors use.

In actuality, I’ve done this (or have had it done) numerous times in two houses that my wife and I have renovated and in new construction projects.

The only way you should refrain from using tile on the drywall is when it’s hanging in a place that is wet or constantly exposed to humidity.

Here are some places in your home where you should not put tile on drywall

  • Around the tub or shower
  • In a sauna
  • Any place outdoors, for example, in your outdoor kitchen

Some areas that might be prone to moisture are generally okay. However, you must be aware of potential dangers. For instance, many homeowners put drywall over their kitchen and bathroom sinks. If those areas suffer from an issue with the plumbing or a leak, you could have some of the problems we’ll cover in the next section, but generally, it’s considered safe.

Why can't you tile Over Drywall on Wet Areas?

Tiling over drywall in a wet zone isn’t necessarily against building codes, but what makes it dangerous? Let me give you three solid reasons not to tile over drywall when it’s wet space:

  • Mold: Moisture may seep through the tiles and timber behind it. Mold thrives in these damp and dark environments, and you’ll be able to tell when your tiled wall begins to feel soft as you apply pressure to it. At that point, you’re dealing with a severe problem on your hands.
  • Water damage: Moisture may cause damage to drywall as well as the wood that lies behind it. If there is mold (and it is likely), it may create structural problems.
  • Pests: All insects are attracted to a source of water. Pests such as carpenter termites and ants can find the moisture accumulating through the tiles in the bathroom and take advantage of it. These pests can cause damage to other areas of your home too.

It is evident that putting tiles over the bathroom drywall is not a wise option, but it’s worse due to the fact that the tile might not show any indications of damage until it’s too late. If you are suffering from issues with mold or moisture, you need to detect the problem.

How to place tiles in rooms that are humid or wet?

So, we’ve developed an argument that is strong against installing tile directly over the drywall in damp areas. But what are the best options to tile wet areas?

Use Cement Board for Tile in wet Areas

The best material to put under tiles in wet areas will be cement board. Cement Board is similar to drywall in that it is available in sheets. However, it will not grow mold or degrade in the presence of water.

You can hang the cement board in the same manner as you hang drywall, but with two key distinctions:

  • A water barrier is placed between the board and the cement to keep moisture out of the building.
  • A waterproof tape is used to seal up seams.

It is also possible to use a water-resistant tile backer.

How do I prepare drywall to be tile

Thin-Brick tile that we had installed over drywall in our new home.

Before you hang tiles, it is vital that you prep the drywall to achieve the most effective outcomes. It’s not as tricky as the painting process, but, like all things appropriately done, it’ll take some time.

How to prepare unpainted drywall for tile

If you’re currently in the middle of kitchen remodeling, you may be surprised to discover some areas where the contractor needed to paint drywall or build an entirely new wall. Whatever the case, you’ll need to prepare the wall before hanging the tiles. This is how:

  1. Check that the drywall has its joints sealed. If the seams need sealing, apply a coat of sandpaper over the entire wall instead of stressing about perfect seams.
  2. Sand areas that aren’t smooth. The goal is to cover it with tile, and you’ll need an even, smooth base for the tiles to stick to. (You do not want the tile to look bumpy or lumpy.)
  3. Vacuum and clean the area to get rid of dust.
  4. Wipe the wall using a damp cloth to get rid of dust. Allow for the walls to air dry.
  5. Paint the wall using primer. This will help seal the drywall and shield it from water damage, and it will aid in smoothing the walls. This is a crucial step that should not be left unfinished.
  6. Allow the primer dry before you begin to tile.

How to prepare painted Drywall for Tile

If the drywall has been painted, then the procedure is slightly different. This is how you can paint drywall to tile:

  1. Clear the area you would like to apply tiles. Take off the faceplates of the light switches and outlets. Take off the trim if you have any. 
  2. Cleanse the walls with TSP. This will remove dirt or build-up that helps the tile to stick on the walls. Letting the tiles dry before moving on to the next stage is essential.
  3. Complete any significant gaps and sand off imperfections. It’s not necessary to be perfect. However, it would help if you didn’t make your tile stick in a way that isn’t ideal or sit unevenly.
  4. If you need to patch your wall using spackle, it is necessary to smooth your spackle and then clean the area down using a damp rag. Let the wall dry before moving on to the next stage.

You can paint or prime the walls prior to the tiles being installed. Although, it is not required since you won’t be able to see the paint or primer.

If you decide to paint or prime, clean off the paint using sandpaper to help form a solid bond between your wall and your tile.

It is important to note that in the case of new construction of drywall, it is suggested that you put off for four weeks before tiling to make sure that the plaster of your drywall is dry and fully set.

What Mortar Should You Use to tile over drywall?

For backsplashes, it is suggested that thin-set mortar be employed when installing tile on drywall.

Technically, it is possible to use a mastic, but it’s not recommended for areas with humidity or moisture, so why would you risk it instead of using thin-set?

Are Large Tiles a possibility to install over drywall?

Actually, yes! If you were to install something more akin to tiles than bricks, there could be issues since its weight-per-square foot could surpass the recommended weight for drywall.

Is tiling Over Drywall Safe?

It is perfectly safe to put tiles over the drywall of areas in your home that don’t have excessive moisture so long as you prep the wall before installation and choose the appropriate mortar.

If you’re planning to install tile within your bathroom area, it needs to be laid on the cement board or tile backer that are designed to be used in wet areas.

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