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Old 09-10-2010, 08:21 PM  
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Default Replacing drywall with tiled walls (bathroom)

I'm looking at remodeling my bathroom and removing the drywall on the walls, replacing them with something more suitable for covering with tile.

At least one part of the bathroom will have a new built-in shower, so the tile needs to go all the way up to the ceiling. Not sure about the rest of the bathroom, it might only go halfway up etc.

The question is, how far up should I tear the drywall out? If I go all the way to the top, that involves the corner with the ceiling, which gets messy.

Should I just try to carefully cut the corner where it meets the ceiling and tear out the whole thing? Or should I leave a 4 inch strip right below the ceiling? Would it be OK to tile over a small strip of drywall like this?

I'm not against doing extra work to make sure things get done the "right" way, I just need to figure out what the "right" way is!

Thanks for the help!

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Old 09-11-2010, 05:53 AM  
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you can put tile over sheetrock where it will not be getting wet. as far as the ceiling goes you do not have to go all the way to the ceiling unless you want to. to determine how high you want to go, look everything over good and see what items need to be covered or not. i.e., look at the switches and plugs on the wall outside the shower/tub.
you want your tile to be at least a couple of inches over them. look at your shower head. if you do not go all the way to the ceiling, then go a couple of inches over the shower head. if you are not going to go all the way to the ceiling, then you don't have to worry about the wall to ceiling problem. where you cut your sheetrock to place backerboard up, just cut the rock an inch or two lower than the tile. this will solve your tile to rock transition. i lay a lot of tile over sheetrock where it will not be getting wet. if you have an inch or so of your top and side cap tile over rock you are ok. for how far down from the ceiling to come, do at least a three inch minimum if you can to stay away from the ceiling/wall corner and that will keep you from having to deal with the ceiling. plan your project out good first. once you know the size of your tile, then you can take a tape measure and figure it out. on the walls, start from the center. either a grout joint OR the center of a tile will work best in each corner. usually i go for which one gives me the biggest "cut" piece in the corner. do your homework up front and it will save you from the pain later. thanks, budro

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Old 09-11-2010, 03:19 PM  
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I've set more than my fair share of wall tiles, too.

I don't see any problem going all the way up to the ceiling in the shower, and I don't see any point in tiling walls that won't be in a wet area.

Tiling walls that aren't in a wet area, in my view, is only creating potential problems. If someone accidentally hits one of those tiles with something hard, it's going to crack the tile, and the repair is going to be a lot more difficult than repairing a gouge in drywall.

Ditto for stains. Unless you seal your grout, there's the possibility of getting a stain in the grout if you splash the wrong stuff on on a tiled wall. You can always paint over drywall to "fix" stained paint, but you need to replace stained grout. Almost all of the maintenance issues homeowners have to deal with when it comes to ceramic tiling involve maintaining the grout. Why give yourself more work to do by installing more grout than you need to?

What I'd recommend you consider is using a product called "DenShield" which is made by the Georgia Pacific Company. It's as strong as drywall and as easy to work with, but it's as waterproof as any cement tile backer board on the market. You shouldn't have any trouble buying it in any major city.

Georgia-Pacific DensShield Tile Backer

It comes in various sizes and thicknesses, including 5 foot long by 30 inch wide panels for tiling around bathtubs and 4 foot by 8 foot sheets for tiling floors. You cut the stuff just like you cut drywall, it weighs about the same as drywall, and because the core is gypsum (like drywall), it provides the same fire rating as ordinary drywall.

My sister had a flood in her basement a few years ago, and I was in charge of repairing the resulting damage. I was too busy to do the work myself, so I walked her and her husband through each step of the repair, so they were the ones to actually do the work, even though neither one had ever done any renovations before. To prove to them that Denshield was what they wanted to replace the water damaged drywall with, I salvaged a piece from my local supplier and left it submerged in a bucket of water for a week. When I showed them the piece of Denshield at the end of that week and the perimeter of the DensShield was wet to a depth of about 1/8 inch, but once you scraped that edge away, the interior core was dry as a bone and when you put water on it, it just beaded up as it should. So, it's certainly as water proof as anyone not living in New Orleans would ever need. We replaced the water damaged drywall with DensShield, and now she can tolerate a 10 inch deep flood in her basement without incurring any damage to the walls.

So, I don't know why you want to set ceramic tiling on your walls, and I think you're just creating a liability by doing so. But, if you're looking for a waterproof alternative to drywall, then look no further than DensShield. It comes in the same size as drywall, and is as easy to install as drywall, and it can be easily skim coated with joint compound and thereby made to look exactly the same as a drywall wall.

So far as the ceiling goes...
I'd just take a razor blade (actually, an Olfa knife with the break away blades) and a piece of sheet metal. Hold the sheet metal flat against the ceiling in the corner and use the razor knife to cut through the paint, joint compound, paper corner bead and surface drywall paper 1/64th of an inch below the ceiling without harming the ceiling at all. Then remove the drywall on the wall right up to the ceiling as you can be sure that anything that tears off will only tear up to that cut line and no further. Then you can scrape that 1/64 of an inch off with a paint scraper and plaster over it.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the issue here. Could you please explain exactly why you're concerned about the corner at the ceiling where drywall meets drywall? I just don't understand why you would be apprehensive about it.

If you're still concerned about it, then I'd go to 6 inches below the ceiling, and drywall screw a 1X4 to the cut edge of the drywall between all studs so that 1/2 the width of the 1X4 is sticking out below the drywall. Then when you put up your tile backer, screw it to the studs, but ALSO screw it to that 1X4 between the studs. That strengthens the joint between the two wall panels and insures you don't get "hairline cracks" in the glazed surface of the tiles that straddle that joint because of relative movement between the two panels.

(That'll never be a problem because the area at or above the shower head never gets wet enough to cause even ordinary drywall that's merely been painted to deteriorate. That's why you don't have any problem with the drywall shower ceiling you have now.)

Then just paint over everything you're going to be tiling in the wet areas with RedGard, and proceed with the tiling.

If you haven't tiled walls before, you might want to read my posts in the "Shower Retile Underlayment Advice" thread below this one.

Last edited by Nestor_Kelebay; 09-11-2010 at 03:50 PM.
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Old 11-23-2010, 03:56 PM  
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Hi, thanks for the advice, I haven't had time to start the project yet, but I will post pictures once I've started. Yes, it does sound like it should be easy enough to cut away the drywall near the ceiling joint and replace it with DensShield. From what I've read, the ceilings usually go on first, with the wallboard going on later to help support the edge of the ceiling. So, I'm not even really cutting into any drywall at that point, just separating the ceiling from the wall (and putting in a new wall to replace it).

The issue with tiling the walls is mostly about design. Plus I'm trying to create a mold-resistant, easy to clean environment. Tiles need to go all around the shower, toilet, and vanity area. So it's a matter of how far up the wall to go, maybe all the way up around the shower, and just a half-wall in some cases.

Thanks again for the advice and I'll post pictures of my progress.
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