Painted Backsplash Wall - Prep Suggestions [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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10-31-2014, 11:22 AM
Need suggestions to prep my backsplash wall for ceramic 6x6 tiles. You guys rocked on telling me how to prep my foyer floor for tile over plywood, and 4 yrs later it's still holding strong, so I'm turning to you again for help.

The granite installers took out the formica counter which had a built-in 4 or 5" lip which left some of the paint torn off. I have American Olean ceramic art tiles (hand painted tiles) which are fairly thick as you can see in the picture and weigh 1.1lb each (weighed it on my food scale). That's not as heavy as the marble subway tiles I used on my mom's backsplash, but the issue is the thickness. If I add backer board, I run the risk of coming out past the window sill trim. The walls do not get wet (I'm not really a big cook as I spend too much time tiling ;-) and the house is in moderate climate.

Question - can I power sand (not too deep) and smooth out the drywall paper and painted areas and tile over, assuming i'll have to prime the walls and use some type of mortar modified to adhere properly?

If you haven't said "NO!" yet...then what is the appropriate primer to cover the walls? the area is not that big, just an L-shaped kitchen area.

And what mortar/adhesive do you recommend? I have Omnigrip, but read here that painted walls are not best substrate - but what if they are sanded and primed?

My humble gratitude in advance. I promise to post finished project pics.


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Tool Guy - Kg
10-31-2014, 06:30 PM
Welcome back, Laura! :wave:

If the remaining paper on the wall is tightly adhered, you're ready to tile right now. Go ahead and scuff up any painted portions of the drywall that will be tiled over with a heavy grit sandpaper (60 grit or so). But short of that, you're ready to go. No need for cement board on this backsplash.

Some folks like to prime bare drywall paper. But the paper from the drywall is stuck to the gypsum core like a ton of bricks. Adding a paint layer is nothing more than an unnecessary extra layer in my opinion. It's just another opportunity to become a bond breaker between the paper and the setting material. Especially if you use mastic, as mastic does a bang-up job at temporarily softening up the paint until it dries out. I can't tell you how many times, in my early days of tiling backsplashes with mastic over painted drywall, that I pulled a tile off to adjust it...only to pull the layer of paint with it! :eek: So, I personally never prime bare drywall before tiling in a situation like what you're describing.

11-01-2014, 10:55 AM
Thank you ToolGuy- that is exactly what I will do. What about the small patch of exposed drywall compound just below the outlet on the corner? Should I sand that completely off? I am inclined to because that stuff seems to melt away as soon as it gets wet. It looks like a spot where someone was trying to level out a mismatched joint. I appreciate it that you responded.