Where to install Ceramic Tile for your Bathroom Remodeling Project

Published by Millennial1 on April 17, 2007 - 12:31am
The amount of ceramic tile used in your bathroom remodeling project depends on whether you want to make a statement, how often the bathroom is used and remodeling budget. When you are planning your bathroom remodeling project, you must decide what parts of the bathroom you will install ceramic tile. It's important to do this, because where you decide to tile dictates the type of bathroom underlayment. What parts of the bathroom require ceramic tile? Certain parts of your bathroom should have ceramic tile. These include the areas within the shower or bath tub area and the floor. The areas will also require a waterproof underlayment such as Durock cement board (also known as Wonderboard) and Hardi-backer by the James Hardie Company. Your floors may also require Schluter Ditra, which is designed to prevent the tiles from cracking. We've written a good article on Ditra since we used it in our kitchen. Keep in mind that you will not be able to paint any wall where you install durock, but you can with hardi-backer. We normally run the tile all the way to the ceiling in our bath tub and shower areas, but do not tile the ceiling. There's one exception which we'll discuss later. Usually a bull nose finishes off the tile in the shower and bath tub area and extends about 6 inches beyond the bath tub or shower area. What other areas can have ceramic tiles? Using Wainscot We think that an option which makes for easier cleaning, is to install ceramic tile outside of the shower or bathtub area all around the remove. We usually run it about 39-42 inches above the floor. So in effect, their is a wainscot in the bathroom that includes a listella and/or border. The listellas and borders are simple decorative tiles. If you do this, then your ceramic tile, including the listella and border should extend above your bathroom vanity cabinet. Any water from washing and using the sink should hit the ceramic tile and not the bare wall. You also save money on tile and the installation. As shown below, just make sure that you run the listella all around the entire bathroom. The border is only used outside of the shower and bath tub area. Tile the entire bathroom Europeans usually tile the entire bathroom. This makes for easy cleaning. This makes sense if the shower or bathtub gets a lot of use and people take extra long showers. It also includes tiling the ceiling. This makes it easy to clean a bathroom and you don't have to worry about mold on the areas that are not tiled. We actually did this in one of our bathrooms. We different kinds of white tile to provide some interest. If you are going to tile a bathroom, make sure you have very good lighting especially if you use darker colored tiles. Also, we recommend installing green board drywall as an underlayment for the ceiling. Durock is just too heavy according to several ceramic tilers we talked to. Just the floor and base board For powder rooms this might be the way to go. We recommend a base board made of marble or tile to facilitate cleaning.


Should wall tile be installed behind a bathroom vanity cabinet (total remodel
of bathroom) or should the cabinet go flush to the sheetrock?

The contractor wants the tiler to edge the tile to the cainet, not go behind it. Our concern is
that the wall is most likely not straight and there will be a gap.

Hi Cynthia,

There is no fast rule as far as I know. We typically tile behind the vanity cabinet even though no one will ever see it. It's just easier for the tiler and give us more flexibility when we install the vanity cabinet. We're not worried whether we move the cabinet a bit to the left or right, because there's only tile. I your case, make sure you know the exact dimensions of your cabinet, if you go with your contractor's recommendation. Also make sure that the sheet rock is at least green board and not just drywall. Durock and wall board works too.

Most walls are not straight. Usually the tiler makes sure that the wall is straight by applying more or less adhesive to the walls and then applying the tiles. That way the vanity cabinet is pretty flush against the walls and their is no wide gap.

Two other considerations:

a) Is there a reason why the contractor wants you to do this? Ask your contractor why he wants to do this. Perhaps the wall behind the vanity is bowed or the tile work will be difficult. Or maybe you are just short of tiles. How big is the vanity cabinet anyway?

b) What's going on top of the sink? Is it more tile with a listella or bordura and also what kind of sink top are you using? Granite, marble or a cultured marble sink with a backsplash. See the first photo in another article I wrote on bathroom sinks to get an idea of what I am talking about at /Activities/Renovation/Kitchen/buying-faucet-home-depot-lowes.htm

You want to make sure there is a good seal between the cabinet and the sink top so that water does not get behind the vanity cabinet, especially is there won't be tile there. Hope this helps.


If you have not implemented ceramic tile in your home before, I would start out with a smaller area, use it in everyday life and see if you like it. I know many people who have regretted putting in ceramic tile. Once it is in, it is hard to take out. If after a few months you decide you like it, tile the remainder of the bathroom to your liking.

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I know many people who have regretted putting in ceramic tile. Once it is in, it is hard to take out. If after a few months you decide you like it, tile the remainder of the bathroom to your liking.vessel sinks

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