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Can You Tile Over Drywall

Are you considering a bathroom or kitchen remodel and wondering if you can tile over drywall? It’s a valid question, and the answer depends on several factors. Tiling over drywall may seem easy and quick, but it’s not always the best option, especially in wet areas.

One of the main concerns with tiling over drywall is that drywall is not water-resistant, and if exposed to moisture, it can lead to mold growth and structural damage. Moreover, drywall is not designed to hold the weight of heavy tiles, which can cause it to crack or warp over time.

To ensure a long-lasting and structurally sound tile installation, it’s essential to use the right materials and techniques. This includes properly preparing the surface and laying tiles, using a suitable tile backer board or cement board, and selecting the appropriate thinset mortar and grout.

In our guide, you can find out more about putting tile on drywall safe? By the end, you’ll better understand how to install tile over drywall bathroom use is very specific and may not be up to building codes. You’ll also learn how to prepare drywall for installing tiles in several home areas. (Read Can Ceiling Paint Be Used On Walls)

Can You Tile Over Drywall

What is Drywall?

Drywall, or gypsum board or plasterboard, is a popular material used in new construction projects for interior walls and ceilings. It is a gypsum plaster panel sandwiched between two sheets of heavy paper or fiberglass mats.

It is important to note that not all types of drywall are suitable for tiling. Regular drywall, for example, is not recommended for tiling due to its susceptibility to moisture damage.

On the other hand, moisture-resistant drywall is specifically designed to withstand damp or humid environments, making it a better choice for bathrooms or kitchens.

Why Do You Need to Prepare the Drywall Before Tiling?

Preparing the drywall before installing tiles is important to ensure you have a flat surface that’s smooth, clean, and able to bond properly with the tile adhesive, called thinset, also called mortar. This helps prevent cracking, shifting, or tiles from falling off.

Preparing the Drywall

1. Assess the Drywall Condition

Before installing tile over drywall, assess the condition of the wall. Check for any signs of damage, such as cracks or holes. If the drywall is damaged, it should be repaired or replaced before tiling.

2. Remove Loose Material

Any loose material on the surface of the drywall, such as peeling paint or wallpaper, must be removed. Use a scraper or putty knife to remove any loose material gently, then a light sanding of the surface to create a smooth, even surface.

3. Clean the Surface

Clean the surface of the drywall to remove dust, or debris that could interfere with the bonding of the tile adhesive. Use a damp cloth or wet sponge to wipe down the surface and allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

4. Apply a Vapor Barrier

If you are tiling drywall in a wet area, such as a bathroom or kitchen backsplash, it is important to apply a vapor barrier to the surface of the drywall. This can help prevent moisture from seeping through the wall and causing long-term damage.

5. Apply a Water-Resistant Backing

Another option for wet areas is to install tile on a water-resistant backer board. This special type of board is designed to withstand moisture and can be used as a base for wall tile installation.

6. Skim Coating Drywall

If the surface of the drywall is not perfectly smooth, you may need to apply a skim coat of joint compound filler or drywall mud. This helps create a smooth surface that is easier to apply wall tile to. (Read Painting Satin Over Semi Gloss)

7. Apply a Sealing Primer

Before tiling, applying a sealing primer to the surface of the drywall mud or skim coat is a good idea. This helps create a better bond between the tile adhesive and the drywall and can also help prevent moisture from seeping through the wall.

installing tile

Installing the Tile

Once the surface is smooth and dust-free, it’s time to start laying the tiles.

Follow these steps to ensure a successful installation:

  1. Apply a coat of flat sealing primer to the drywall surface for an even surface for the adhesive and prevent the drywall from absorbing too much moisture from the thinset.
  2. Measure the wall tile and area to be tiled and determine the best starting point for the tiles.
  3. Use a chalk line to mark the center of the cement board wall and work outward from there.
  4. Mix the thin-set mortar according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Use a margin trowel to spread the mortar on the wall, starting at the center point and working in small sections.
  6. Use spacers to ensure even spacing between the first and second tile, and so on. This helps to create a professional-looking finished product.
  7. Lay the tiles on the thin set, pressing firmly to ensure good adhesion. Use a standard tile cutter to cut tiles as needed to fit around corners, edges, and outlet covers.
  8. Use a level to ensure that the tiles are even and flat. Adjust the tiles as necessary to create a smooth surface.
  9. Allow the thin set to dry completely before grouting the joints between the tiles. This can take anywhere from a few hours to overnight, depending on the type of thin set used to lay tiles and the humidity in the room.
  10. Mix the dry powder form grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Rubber float spreads the grout over the tiles, filling all the joints completely.
  11. Use a damp rag or sponge to wipe away any remaining adhesive or grout from the surface of the tiles. Allow the grout to dry completely before sealing.
  12. Apply a high-quality sealer to the grout joints to prevent moisture from penetrating the surface. This is especially important in damp areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Why Can’t You Tile over Drywall in Wet Areas?

Wet areas such as bathrooms, around the kitchen sink, and laundry rooms require special attention when it comes to start tiling.

Using drywall as a base for your tiles in these areas may not be the best idea. You can’t tile over drywall in wet areas for a few reasons.

Firstly, drywall is not water-resistant and is designed to be used as a wallboard. Water penetrating the drywall can lead to mold growth and weaken the wall’s structural integrity.

Secondly, even if you manage to avoid water damage, drywall absorbs moisture, and can be tough to keep the wall dry. As a result, it can make cracked tiles expand and contract, causing the tiles to become unstable and crack over time.

Finally, drywall is not designed to hold the weight of the existing tile. When large tiles are installed on drywall, they add considerable weight to the wall. This can cause the drywall to crack or even collapse.

Using a water-resistant tile backer instead of drywall is crucial if you’re tiling a wet area. Additionally, use a high-quality sealer on the grout joints to prevent excessive moisture from seeping through. (Learn How To Paint With Enamel)

why prepare drywall

How To Prepare Unpainted drywall for Tiling

  1. The first step is to ensure that the drywall and blue board is completely dry and free of any moisture, as excessive moisture can eventually seep through and damage the tiles.
  2. Next, remove any dust or debris from the drywall using a damp rag or cloth, and allow it to dry completely before proceeding.
  3. If the surface is not perfectly smooth, a skim coat of compound filler or joint compound can be applied to create a flat, smooth surface for tiling.
  4. It’s also important to ensure that the drywall is structurally sound and capable of supporting the weight of the tiles.
  5. If you have any doubts about the integrity of the drywall, consider either installing tile with a water-resistant tile backer or a cement board to reinforce the wall.
  6. Before installing the tiles, apply a thin layer of tile adhesive or thin-set mortar to the drywall using a margin or notched trowel.
  7. Use tile spacers to ensure consistent spacing between tiles and maintain a level surface.

Overall, properly preparing unpainted drywall for tiling can help ensure a successful and long-lasting tile installation.

preparing painted drywall

How To Prepare painted drywall for Tiling

If you’re planning to tile over painted drywall, there are some steps you need to follow to ensure a successful installation.

  1. Firstly, remove any loose or peeling paint from the wall using a scraper or sandpaper.
  2. Then, wash the entire wall down with a damp cloth to remove dust or debris.
  3. Next, use a high-quality sealer to prime the painted surface. This creates a smooth surface that’s easier to tile over and will help the tile adhesive bond.
  4. Applying a flat sealing primer to the surface before the sealer is a good idea if you’re dealing with a particularly dark or bold paint color. This will help to ensure that the color doesn’t bleed through the sealer and affect the final appearance of the tiled wall.
  5. In addition, use a gray thin-set when dark grout is used.
  6. Finally, after the surface is dry and sealed, start tiling as you would on an unpainted drywall surface, using the appropriate tile adhesive and tile spacers.

Following these steps, you can safely and effectively tile over painted drywall, creating a beautiful and durable tiled surface in your home.


Tiling over drywall is a popular option for homeowners updating their walls with a durable and attractive surface.

When tiling over drywall, use the right materials and techniques, such as blue board with new drywall, to ensure that the wall is structurally sound and moisture-resistant and can deliver a surface smooth enough to tile on.

Whether installing wall tiles in a bathroom, kitchen, or other areas of your home, hanging drywall and preparing the surface properly will help ensure a successful outcome. (Learn How Long Does It Take For Enamel Paint To Dry)


Is it safe to tile over damaged drywall now?

Yes, it is safe to tile on sheetrock as long as the drywall is in good condition and properly prepared.

Can I tile over painted drywall?

Yes, but it’s important to prepare the surface properly by sanding and applying a flat sealing primer before tiling.

Do I need to use a backer board when tiling over drywall?

It’s not necessary to use concrete board a backer board when tiling over drywall, but it can provide additional moisture resistance and structural support.

What type of thinset mortar should I use for tiling over drywall?

Gray thinset mortar is recommended for tiling over new gypsum board, as it provides better adhesion and moisture resistance than white thinset.

Do I need to seal the grout joints after tiling over the drywall joints?

Yes, applying a high-quality taping compound sealer to the grout joints is important to prevent moisture from penetrating the surface and causing damage over time.

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