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Can You Install Tile on a Painted Wall?

Updated February 21, 2017

Ceramic or porcelain tiles can add pizazz to an existing painted wall, whether you are adding a tile backsplash in the kitchen or covering the shower walls with tile. When you prepare for this kind of home improvement project, you may wonder if you can install tile on a painted wall. The type of existing paint and location of the wall are things to consider before you begin.

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Choosing the Right Tile

Choose the right materials for the location. For instance, if you are tiling over a painted wall in a bathroom where moisture is a constant companion, you need a tile that is suited for that location. Some tile materials absorb more water than others. When a tile absorbs a lot of water it is non-vitreous, meaning it absorbs at least 7 per cent water, while vitreous tiles typically absorb less than 3 per cent water. Consult with the tile manufacturer or retailer as to the type of tile for you project.

Wall Preparation

Wall preparation is an important step when you in install tile on a painted wall. Lightly sand the paint; you don't necessarily have to remove the paint before applying the tile adhesive, depending on the type of paint and wall surface. The gritty surface you create with sanding allows the tile adhesive to stick better on the wall, keeping the tile in position. Oil-based paints can create a problem with tile installation, consider removing this paint with paint remover or via sanding the paint away prior to installing the tile.

Drywall vs. Concrete Walls

If the walls you want to tile are concrete walls with paint on them, remove the paint before you install tile so the tile adhesive has something to grab onto and hold the tile in the correct place. Scrape the paint off the concrete wall or use a blaster. You can leave the paint on drywall, provided there are not several coats, and the tile epoxy will adhere with no problem. Sanding the existing paint helps the tile adhesive stick to the wall.


Paint in a bathroom where it is exposed to moisture and humidity may not be fully adhered to the wall. If the paint begins to peel from the wall, it will also affect the tile adhesive.

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About the Author

After attending the University of Missouri St. Louis, Stephanie Rempe worked as a documentation manager in the finance industry 10 years before turning to her first love, writing, which she's been doing professionally since 2008. She currently divides her time between Missouri and her fiance's hometown in Oregon. In addition to her freelance writing, Rempe is working on a romance novel and short stories.

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