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Can You Tile Over Drywall in A Shower? (Quick Answer!)

Can You Tile Over Drywall in A Shower? (Quick Answer!)


You deserve timeless, long-wearing, hardy tiles in your bathroom, but before you begin transforming your shower into a beautifully tiled haven, there are plenty of things to consider. Top of that list is answering the question, can you tile over drywall in a shower?

You can tile over drywall in your shower but doing so isn’t a great idea even if you have moisture-resistant drywall in your bathroom. This is because it won’t give the necessary moisture resistance hence water will eventually seep through the drywall, making the tiles crack, sag or fall.

Your issues don’t end there either, as you risk pest and mold infestation when water penetrates behind the shower tiles. Nonetheless, the ultimate decision is yours, but I’m here to answer any questions you may have concerning tiling over drywall in a shower.

The post covers why you shouldn’t tile over drywall in wet places, how to cover drywall in your shower, and how to waterproof your shower before and after tiling.

Prepping drywall for shower tile

Can You Tile Over Drywall in A Shower? (Further Explanation)

Tiling over drywall is acceptable and safe for a fireplace or a kitchen backsplash because of their limited exposure to moisture. However, it’s not something experts would encourage in damp areas.

Your shower is most likely the dampest place in your home and the one place professionals might not recommend tiling over the drywall. However, sometimes drywall manufacturers state that their product is safe for use in a shower.

Can You Waterproof Drywall for Shower?

Waterproofing drywall in a shower is possible by coating the drywall with a waterproof membrane. To form an impervious layer, you may connect this waterproof membrane to drywall using thin-set glue, but that will cause mold and rot, and the drywall will also bubble and droop, causing tiles to fall free from the shower wall.

To make the drywall in your shower surround waterproof, you must first lay a moisture barrier atop the drywall before tiling. Without a layer of glue on a waterproof membrane, water-resistant drywall will not be watertight enough to be used for shower walls.

Can You Put Tile Directly on Drywall?

It’s safe to tile directly over drywall in places with less severe dampness. However, avoid tiling over drywall in damp locations, such as the shower, because water can gradually infiltrate under the tile, causing damage, mold, or bug infestations.

You may lay a ceramic tile kitchen backsplash right over drywall or plaster as long as the wall is flat and smooth. However, clean the wall to eliminate oil before applying thin-set glue and installing the tile, and apply grout when the glue has dried.

Remember, moisture-prone areas can be okay, but you should be aware of the hazards.

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

Here are some reasons you may need to rethink installing tiles over drywall in wet areas, such as your shower:

1. Mold

Moisture can infiltrate behind the tile and drywall, as well as the wood at the back of the drywall. Mold will grow in these moist and dark environments, and you probably won’t notice until the tiled wall feels soft when pressed.

2. Damage

Moisture may ruin the drywall and the timber behind your drywall. Mold might lead to structural damage if it’s present (which it most likely is).

3. Pests

Pests often stay close to areas with water. Termites and carpenter ants take advantage of the water seeping behind the tile in the bathroom and even spread to other areas of your house and cause harm.

Installing tile over drywall in the shower is not a bad choice per se, but the tile not showing signs of degradation early is what worries many. You should detect moisture or mold if you have it.

Replacing shower tiles and drywall

How Do You Cover Drywall in a Shower?

Bathroom drywall is moisture-resistant but not impervious to water. For that reason, you should protect it from the humidity in the shower.

It’s okay to place tile over drywall in a non-wet region of your bathroom. Follow the procedure below to ensure the success of your project:

1. Take Everything Off the Wall

Remove all screws, pictures, and other items from your wall. The wall must be clean so that you may install your tile.

2. Prepare the Drywall

  • Prepare the drywall to avoid tiling on an uneven surface.
  • Ensure you wipe your drywall clean to accomplish this.
  • Allow enough time for it to dry and fix any chips or holes in the drywall.
  • Fill up the gaps with spackling.
  • Lastly, sand down any protruding sections of drywall to create an even surface. You will have a smooth, leveled wall after this.

3. Determine If the Drywall Need Waterproofing

You can install tile on the drywall in low-moisture areas. For instance, if you have a spacious bathroom, there is a strong probability that moisture may not get to some sections of the shower.

This is especially true if you utilize a vent fan, and it does not mean you are out of luck if your drywall is in a heavily humid area. However, you will have to waterproof the drywall.

Tips For Putting Tile Over Drywall in Shower

You may do several things to make the tile concept work for you. Employing different solutions is preferable to avoid dealing with tiles sliding off the wall.

Consider the tips below.

1. Use Cement Board for Tile

A cement board is an ideal material to put under tiles in moist environments like the shower. It’s comparable to drywall since it comes in sheets, but it does not grow moldy or decay when exposed to moisture.

Take off all the drywall from your walls down to the studs, then nail some cement board to the wall. Next, hang the cement board the same way you would with drywall.

If you are using drywall rather than cement board, you can do a few things to minimize the moisture it collects. First, apply a primer formulated to waterproof the walls.

Secondly, use waterproof tape. To keep the drywall from soaking in water, replace materials in the subsequent steps with waterproof alternatives wherever possible.

Taking these precautionary measures now can save you worries and cost later on.

2. Painting or Priming Drywall Before Tiling

If you are installing tiles in the shower, it’s essential to prime the drywall beforehand. Employing a waterproof primer will help make the drywall less absorbent right away, and once the primer dries, rub it with a sanding block to make the tile and mortar stick to the wall better.

Painting the walls before placing tile is optional, but some homeowners do so when installing tile over a small section of the wall. However, if you paint drywall first, use sandpaper to scrape the paint (where you will lay the tile) after it dries to make the tile adhere to the wall better.

3. Use Small Tiles

Before installing tiles on your shower drywall, evaluate the type of tile you plan to use. For instance, overly heavy tiles are more prone to falling and shattering, so instead of enormous 12′ x 24′ porcelain tiles, use multiple smaller tiles, and you will achieve the same appearance without the risk.

How Do You Waterproof Shower Wall Before Tiling?

Start by removing any existing drywall before tiling the shower, and ensure you remove it down to the studs. Place a waterproof backer board, such as Kerdi-Board or Hardi-Backer, then use a joint sealant and waterproof tape to seal the backer board joints.

Can you tile over moisture resistant drywall

How Do You Waterproof Drywall After Tiling?

After installing your tile and drywall, you may take some precautions to keep the drywall dry. For instance, remove any dampness from your tiles within 48 hours of running your shower using a towel or a fan.

Alternatively, purchase a dehumidifier for your shower. With time, you will have to rely on your nose to detect sour odors in your bathroom, with a musty smell signifying the presence of mold in the bathroom.

What Mortar Do You Use to Tile Over Drywall in a Shower?

Thin-Set is ideal when placing tile over drywall, specifically when adding a splashback around a sink. Theoretically, you could use mastic, but experts do not recommend it for places with high humidity.

Can You Tile Over Painted Drywall in the Shower?

You can install tiles over painted drywall in your shower, but it will be difficult for the tiles to stick to the drywall. Experts advise you to wait until the paint dries.

Next, run a sander or sanding block over the paint. It should feel rough if you run your palm over your painted drywall.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, you can tile over your drywall in the shower, but professionals do not recommend it. If you install tile over drywall in your shower, employ a water-resistant primer on the drywall to prevent moisture from leaking through your tile and onto the drywall.

Waterproofing drywall demands a ton of effort before and after completion. Drywall makers have attempted to tackle this by introducing new moisture-resistant drywall materials.

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