Any way to install tile over regular wallboard? [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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02-24-2008, 12:03 PM
Our 2400 sq ft 1930's house has a super-tiny cheap ratty kitchen courtesy of the previous owners gutting the house to turn it into a boarding house for college kids. They took out what used to be a large kitchen with a beautiful butler's pantry so that they could turn the dining room into an extra bedroom, the old kitchen into the dining room, and built a cheap apartment-quality/size/style kitchen in a tiny part of what used to be the old back porch. (sorry, that info's not essential to my question but I needed to rant about it!)

We have a grand total of 24 sq ft of wall space between the counter and the top cabinets (14") and between the stove and the vent hood. FYI there's no wall space behind the sink since the window frame goes right up against the counter's backsplash.

We'd like to put some glass mosaic tile up on the wall to gussy things up a bit.

I know without question that the "right" thing to do would be to tear out the drywall and put up backer board, but I'm trying to find out if there's any way that I can realistically just put this tile up over the existing flat-painted drywall since it's not a "wet" area.

FYI we plan in about 5 years to gut and redo the kitchen. We're looking at this tile project as a "let's drop around $125 and a relatively easy weekend's work into trying to make it look like something other than a cheap ratty apartment-style kitchen for now" project. We're hoping that we can just do some prep to the walls and put up the tile, instead of having to rip out drywall and put up new backer board first. And putting backer board on top of the drywall isn't an option because the mosaic tile we plan to use (Susan Jablon Mosaics, btw, in the "milk glass" tile) doesn't offer things like radius trim tile to cover up those edges.

If there's a way we can make this work over the existing drywall, what should we do to prep the walls? As I said, right now the drywall has a single coat of flat paint.


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02-24-2008, 12:16 PM
i have seen it done, the only thing i'm thinking is the wall behind or the sides of the stove are they grease? you might need to clean with a degreaser. tile board is used when the wall or floor will be wet alot.

02-24-2008, 12:17 PM
Leslie, it's not a big deal to tile over drywall.. Its only forbidden in wet areas like a shower or tub surround... While a backsplash may get sprinkled from time to time, it hardly qualifies as a wet area. Use a modified thinset, and give the wall a scuff with some sandpaper first.

Eveline brings up a good point.. if the area to be tiled is greasy and dirty, a good cleaning should be done first.

02-24-2008, 01:39 PM
Thanks!! I had planned on doing a thorough cleaning with some kind of super-degreaser, but also testing it out first to make sure that it didn't loosen the paper surface of the drywall.

I have three tile books here and they all recommend against tiling on drywall and/or say that you can only do it on unpainted drywall, which is why I was so apprehensive.

I'm going to be back with more questions about installing mosaic tiles once I hear back from the manufacturer as to whether the tiles we're getting are face-mounted on paper or back-mounted on some kind of mesh. If someone here happens to already know how the Susan Jablon tiles come, please let me know!

Here's the tile we're going to put up, btw, but with a two-row line of white tiles as an accent -- we figure the space we're putting this in requires us to add two rows more than what comes on a single sheet anyway, that we might as well spruce it up a bit with a line of white!

Just a quick ramble... we have two light-green subway-sized edge tiles that I found when we cleared out my 91 year old Granny's house that were from the original kitchen when it was built in 1953 (kitchen was remodeled in the 70's). It turns out that these milk glass tiles and the tiles from my Granny's house are as close to exact in color as I could ever imagine finding in tiles made of differing materials and manufactured 55 years apart from each other. We're going to find a way to incorporate these into the tile work.