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Can You Tile Over Drywall? Over Painted Drywall?

Tiles give a room a fresh and new look. In this article, we will discuss certain conditions wherein you can tile over drywall and how to make it more effective.

Renovated room with tiles and drywall.

Yes, you can tile over plain and painted drywall. Wall tile is a popular choice in many homes, and the ceramic wall tile industry is booming — it has an estimated market size of $68.6 billion in 2018 and growing. Many homeowners don’t realize that drywall is already there underneath their existing tile. Read on to learn more about tiling over drywall and if it’s something that you can do in your own home.

Where to Install Tile Over Drywall

6x6 White Glossy Finish Ceramic Subway Tile Shower Walls Backsplash Made in USA (12.5SF Full Box 50pcs)

You can tile directly over drywall in rooms where excessive moisture is not present. The living room, bedroom, and dining room are excellent areas to add tile over drywall to give your home a fresh, new look. If you’re planning to add new tile in a kitchen or bathroom, a cement backer board and a vapor barrier are required.

The addition of this material creates a moisture-resistant barrier to protect the walls in your home. Never add tile to drywall in bathrooms or outside without the proper backer to prevent damage and to keep it in place. Decorative wall tile can easily be added over existing drywall in traditional rooms without a tub or shower, however.

You can also add tile right to the drywall over your kitchen sink to create a stylish backsplash without worrying about moisture damage.

Installing Tile Over Painted Drywall

Moze Blue 3 in. x 12 in. Polished Ceramic Backsplash, Kitchen, Bathroom, Subway Wall Tile (22 Pieces 5.38 Sq. Ft. / Case)

It’s possible to install tile over painted drywall, but you’ll need to do some prep work first. Use a product called TSP to help remove excess buildup of direst and grease. The TSP ensures that it’s easier for your new wall tile to adhere.

Make sure you let the wall dry thoroughly before adding the tile and fill in any holes with a wall patch repair kit or a small amount of spackle. Sand all wall repairs to ensure that your tile will be applied evenly and lay flat on top of the painted drywall.

Adding Tile Directly to Drywall

If your drywall is new and unpainted, the installation process is easy. Make sure that all of the wall seams are sealed, then sand any areas of the drywall that aren’t smooth. Tile adheres best on a smooth, flat surface without any bumps or lumps.

Wipe the drywall down using a damp cloth to remove dust, then let it dry. Apply a coat of primer to seal the drywall and to help create a smooth surface. Once your walls are smooth and the primer is dry, it’s time to start tiling.

How to Add Tile Over Drywall

1 qt Dap 25190 Weldwood Multi-Purpose Ceramic Tile Adhesive

Now that your drywall is ready, you can start adding your tiles. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you enjoy a beautiful new look in your home.

  • Plan your layout in advance and cut your wall tiles as needed so they will fit against the edges of the wall evenly. You can also create a grid on your drywall using painter’s tape to help serve as a guide as you go.
  • Use a product called thin-set (also called mortar or tile adhesive) to adhere the tiles to your walls. A pre-mixed thin-set is best since it eliminates the step of having to mix it yourself before application.
  • Start tiling from the bottom of the wall and work your way up, applying tiles in sections to ensure that everything is evenly spaced.
  • Use a notched trowel to spread a thin layer of the thin-set onto the first section of the wall with the flat side of the trowel. Only cover as much surface area as you can complete within 20 to 30 minutes, or else it will start to dry and the tiles won’t stick.
  • Trowel back over each layer using the notched side of your trowel to create ridges. Slowly move the trowel over the wall at a 45-degree angle in one direction.
  • Apply a small amount of thin-set to the back of each tile, only doing so as you apply each tile individually.
  • Gently push the tile against the wall and use a rubber mallet to lightly tap it in place.
  • Insert plastic spacers between each wall tile if you’re planning to add grout. If not, make sure that each tile is directly applied against the other so that there are no visible lines.
  • If any thin-set comes out between the tiles as you press them onto the wall, simply wipe the tile clean using a wet microfiber or non-abrasive cloth or sponge. Don’t let the thin-set dry on top of your wall tile, or it may be difficult to remove.
  • Repeat this process as you go, working from the bottom up to where the wall meets the ceiling in sections until the entire wall is tiled.
  • Allow the tile to adhere based on the thin-set manufacturer’s recommended dry time.
  • Once the tiles are in place and all adhesive is dry, you may begin adding grout if desired.

Drywall Wall Tile Tips

Ceramic tiles with tile cutters.

Now that you know it’s possible to add tile over both plain and painted drywall, there are a few key tips to remember. First, make sure that you choose a thin-set product made for your specific type of tile so that it will adhere correctly. Always prep your walls first to ensure that they’re even, smooth, and dry.

Purchase approximately 5-10% more tile than you think you’ll need in case of any mistakes while cutting or applying the tile. Always include a backer board and vapor barrier when adding tile to a bathroom or wet area. When in doubt, consult with a professional tile installation company that can help you add a beautiful new tile over your drywall to give your home a gorgeous new look.