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How do I Tile a Dormer?

Updated February 21, 2017

A dormer is a structural element built into the sloped roof surface of a building to create additional space. Dormers usually are installed with a window and add additional headroom to the room. They can be used for storage or for decoration, with shelves and other amenities included. While some dormers remain unadorned, with the right tools and knowledge you can install ceramic tile to create an additional custom look to complement the aesthetics of the room where the dormer is installed.

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  1. Lay several pieces of tile in a row on the floor with tile spacers in between them according to the size of your chosen grout joints. Take a tape measure and measure the distance between the tiles. Check those measurements against the vertical, horizontal and sloped sections of the dormer. The ideal layout is full tile on all exterior edges with at least 3-inch cuts into any corners, but personal preference may dictate a different type of layout.

  2. Make vertical and horizontal reference lines with the tape measure and pencil plus the level. Mark the horizontal lines and use them as a reference point for stacking tile up the wall to help you keep the overall installation level. Use the vertical lines to help keep the installation plumb. Use the measurements from your dry-laid tiles on the floor to check where you should put the horizontal lines and mark them every two rows.

  3. Start at the bottom and work your way up. Tile the back wall of the dormer around the window first and the side walls second so that the cuts into the wall are buried behind the side walls. Spread a layer of mastic onto the wall with the notched trowel, with your pencil lines used as a reference point where you should stop smearing the mastic. Smear only enough to work with two vertical rows of tile at a time. Place each piece of tile against the wall and press it firmly into the mastic. Install the entire bottom row before moving up to the second row, and use tile spacers to evenly space between the tiles.

  4. Repeat the process with the sloped sections of the ceiling. Use the top edge of the vertical section as a brace so that as you work your way up the slope of the ceiling the weight of the tile rests against the wall and keeps the tiles in place.

  5. Make any straight cuts with the tile cutting board and cut around the dormer window and electrical boxes with the tile wet saw. Mark each cut with the pencil and tape measure and cut accordingly. Allow a minimum of 24 hours before grouting the installation.

  6. Tip

    A typical 12-by-12 tile requires a 3/8 inch notched trowel. Larger tiles will require a larger notch and smaller tiles a smaller notch. Tile spacers come in a variety of widths and can be chosen depending upon how wide you want your grout joints to be. Tile wedges are wedge-shaped spacers that allow for minimal adjustments in cases of installations where each piece may be slightly larger or smaller than the others and thus require additional manipulation.


    Always wear protective gear when working with power tools.

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Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • 4-foot level
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile wedges
  • Mastic
  • Notched trowel
  • Tile cutting board
  • Tile wet saw
  • Safety glasses
  • Ear plugs

About the Author

Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson has been freelance writing since 2007. His has been published online through GTV Magazine, Home Anatomy, TravBuddy, MMO Hub, Killer Guides and the Delegate2 group. He spent more than 15 years as a third-generation tile and stone contractor before transitioning into freelance writing.

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