Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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Installing a Ceramic Tile Backsplash Over Drywall


Installing ceramic tile over existing drywall.

I am planning to install a ceramic backsplash above my laminate counter top in the kitchen over the painted drywall. What kind of treatment is needed for the drywall so that it does not get moist? Also, a quick step-by-step procedure would help a lot, too. -Raj

Hi Raj,

You should be able to tile right over your existing drywall with no problem. Once the adhesive dries and the grout has set, it will be imperious to moisture.

For detailed instructions on how to install a ceramic tile backsplash, check out the following article, Ceramic Tile Backsplash Project, and video, Ceramic Tile Backsplash, on our website.

Good luck with your project,


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12 Comments on “Installing a Ceramic Tile Backsplash Over Drywall”

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  1. New York Bathroom Remodeling Says:
    May 21st, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    For a sink area, you really should be using a “rock board”. Green drywall is not waterproof – it will delaminate just like regular drywall if it gets wet. Green drywall is just more humidity resistant so it is used in bathrooms. I would cut out an area of drywall slightly smaller then your tile area, cut out a piece of tile backer board to fit the cutout area, and shim up the backer board so the tile will sit flush with the surrounding wall. Fasten the backer. The tile will overlap onto the drywall slightly and at the same time seal up the outside perimeter well to prevent water intrusion. No taping will be needed since your tile glue & tile will seal the seam.

  2. pedro Says:
    September 22nd, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    how do you install tile on a shawer?

  3. Deb Says:
    February 27th, 2012 at 8:54 am

    We are wanting to put small tile squares on the back splash in our kitchen. The finish on the walls is a texture that has been knocked down. Can we tile over this or do we need to sand it down smooth.

  4. clueless Says:
    May 13th, 2012 at 10:31 am

    we tore out our previous tile backsplash, which was adhered to drywall. it of course ripped up some of the paperr on the drywall. the drywall is still very intact with the exception of torn up paper. question: is it ok to tile over this “disturbed” drywall and should I prep this drywall in any way? thanks.

  5. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    June 4th, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Hi Clueless,
    Your question was answered in the second hour of our June 2nd Homefront radio show. You can listen to the show on our website at http://www.todayshomeowner.com/homefront/2012/06/02/homefront-radio-show-for-june-2-2012/

  6. Les Auerbach Says:
    March 11th, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Happy Monday. I have a question about one of your videos – the one regarding the backsplash and range hood. It appears that you mortared the glass tiles to the drywall prior to hanging the range hood. Was the hood’s mounting plate bolted directly to the drywall, or is it sitting on top of some glass tiles? I’m getting ready to do a similar project (with Bliss Glass and Stone cabernet-style mosaic), and I’ve been told to not sit the hood’s mounting plate on top of the tiles, but to put the hood’s mounting plate directly on drywall and to mortar the glass tiles around it. Any thoughts on this?

    Thanks in advance.

  7. Mildred Says:
    March 16th, 2013 at 6:25 am

    How long can I wait before applying the groute?

    The groute did not get orrderd so now I have another delay

  8. John Says:
    November 16th, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Why does it matter what you have behind your tile? Is’nt the tile water resistant? How would moisture get behind your tile?

  9. ED Says:
    June 3rd, 2015 at 10:03 am


  10. Richard Says:
    June 24th, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    Ed, you should have measured before you started placing to get the equal spacing above and below. Hopefully, you or the homeowner doesnt mind that you might have a 1/8″ gap everywhere else but a 1/4″ at cabinets…i wouldve probably thought about doing a trim piece if it was for customer if discovered at the end of the laying.

  11. Richard Says:
    June 24th, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    I am only responding to the older comment because I found this site off google and want to give a little bit of my dad’s 40 years experience etc….the tile is NOT water resistant unless its porcelain and it is MORE water resistant (not totally), typically water gets behind the tile based on cracks in the grout or a bad caulking situation where it will splash above and drain down. NO TILE or STONE is safe if there is water intrusion that is occurring.

  12. Virginia Says:
    August 11th, 2015 at 7:04 am

    I put 4-inch tiles in my kitchen- the backsplash and some higher areas- about 7-8 years ago. Didn’t want grout so they’re just butted up against each other. The interesting thing is I put them up with my trusty hot glue gun, most on painted wallboard, some on existing wallpaper. This totally flies in the face of most tiling experience, but it’s worked just fine. I did find that after some years, an occasional tile placed on the wallpaper fell off, but first stripping the outer surface of the wallpaper solves that problem as it leaves a less-slick surface and the hot glue sticks just fine. Run the hot glue around the edges of the tile, adding some in the center as well, and the adherence is pretty remarkable. Plus no stink. Wouldn’t try this with larger tiles, but 4″ and smaller works just fine.

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