Can I Wallpaper Over Tile?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Next up, a trip to Massachusetts where Carla has a question about wallpapering.

    Carla, how can we help?

    CARLA: Well, we’re in a bathroom project. The bathroom – and this is a powder room, so there is no tub or shower. It’s a half bath.


    CARLA: And we’re in a project where the whole room is ceramic tile from floor to ceiling. We’re trying to cover up the ceramic tile on the walls and what we’re trying to do is preferably wallpaper over it.

    TOM: Why do you want to cover the ceramic tile, Carla?

    CARLA: It dates the bathroom.

    TOM: What color is it; like green or lemon yellow?

    CARLA: No, actually it’s a nice beige. It’s not a bad color.

    TOM: OK.

    CARLA: But it makes the bathroom not very homey or warm.

    LESLIE: It’s also kind of institutional.

    CARLA: Exactly. Very institutional, yes. Yes. So I’m – right. So we’re trying to warm it up – the look, anyway – with preferably wallpaper. And we had considered paint but then you’re still getting the squares. And we’re having a tough time putting wallpaper because it’s showing the indentation of the ceramic tile.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s not designed for it. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: Yeah. I think putting anything directly over the tile is a bad idea. If you kind of don’t want to go through the process of removing the tile, which would be ideal – it’s a big job. I mean if the bathroom is kind of sizable and you can afford to lose a little bit of space, maybe if you put like a 1/4-inch sheetrock over it; just cover over that so you’re then putting a smooth sheathing for you to put the wallpaper to. Even if – Tom, could you put luan and then adhere to that?

    TOM: Hmm. Gosh, I’m just so against putting anything on top of tile. I was thinking of Corian has these like premanufactured bathroom shower stalls where you basically have prefabricated walls that if you don’t want to have a tile wall you could have like a Corian wall that goes on top of that and down to the tub lip. But even doing those, there’s a certain amount of manufacturing that you’d have to do to get them in there.

    LESLIE: Yeah, but that also has a very modern sort of sterile look as well because Corian, even though it has those rich sort of textures of color and depth to it, it’s still not sort of like a homey, cushy feeling.

    TOM: Generally, what I suggest people do is keep the tile because it’s the most expensive part to change and put a …

    LESLIE: But she doesn’t like it.

    TOM: … and try to decorate around it.

    LESLIE: You’re not going to talk her out of it.

    TOM: Is there no way to decorate around this?

    LESLIE: No. She wants to change it.

    CARLA: No.

    TOM: Well, then rip it out.

    CARLA: It’s just – it is; it’s very institutional-looking. You’re right. Yeah. And – yeah.

    TOM: Well, then rip it out. That’s all we can say.

    LESLIE: Rip it out.

    TOM: It’s not designed to be covered over.

    LESLIE: No. I mean even if you were to be, as a crazy person, fill the grout lines with some sort of a compound …

    TOM: No, you can’t do that.

    LESLIE: I mean that’s a total pain in the butt. I say either cover over it; get a new, smooth surface to start with a drywall or a luan; or take it all down and start from scratch. Because you won’t be happy. And then especially if you’re putting something on top of it, you’re creating an area for moisture because of the glue. Nothing’s going to stick right. It’s a bad idea.

    CARLA: Hmm. (sigh) OK. (chuckles)

    TOM: Not always what you want to hear but it’s what you have to hear, Carla. OK?

    CARLA: I know, I know.

    TOM: Well, at least now you know where you’re sitting.

    CARLA: Exactly.

    TOM: Alright, Carla. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

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