Can You Install Floor Tiles on a Wall?

by Roger

Yup.

End of post.

Fine, I’ll elaborate . . .

To understand this you should understand what designates a particular tile as a ‘floor’ tile. A couple of different things determine this including the PEI Rating and Static Coefficient of Friction (that’s just fancy ass talk for how slippery a tile’s surface is).

Manufacturers do not necessarily determine the arbitrary term assigned to a certain tile, things such as a ‘floor’ tile. All they do is rate any particular tile following industry guidelines determined by the different institutions. In English that just means that the manufacturer doesn’t really call any particular tile a floor tile, they simply assign their tile the ratings.

Certain tiles are only called floor tiles because they meet certain criteria set forth by the different guidelines. For instance: if a tile has a PEI rating of 1 it is only suitable for walls and areas which do not receive foot traffic. This tile would not be called a floor tile.

If the same manufacturer creates a tile with a PEI rating of 3 along with a C.O.F. of 5 and a suitable Mohs scale number, etc., it may be ‘called’ a floor tile.

You can still put it on a wall. It will just be an extra durable wall.

Just about any 12 x 12 inch tile is commonly referred to as a ‘floor tile’ simply because of the size without taking any of the above into consideration. This is simply another example of misinformed dealers, stores, and installers. They don’t do it on purpose, it just happens to be common practice and they don’t know any better. Just because someone calls it a floor tile doesn’t mean that it is suitable for installation on a floor.  But I digress . . .

As long as a tile, no matter the size, meets a set criteria it will be suitable for your floor. It will also be suitable for your wall. This is also why you do not want to do it the other way around. You can use ‘floor’ tile on a wall but you cannot use ‘wall’ tile on a floor – it won’t last. It is simply not durable enough.

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robert e

Hi Roger
great site! I bought your ebooks too
I have a diy question:
I am remodeling a small corner shower. I used hardibacker then redguard on ceiling and walls and I have tiled the walls using 20×20 porcelain tiles. my intention was to tile the ceiling too but I found that it is 3/4″ out of level on one side and I would have an big unsightly diagonal gap on one side of the shower at the ceiling.
would it be wise to build up the thinset on the ceiling and try to level it off?
any ideas?

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Roger

Hi Robert,

No, you can’t float out the ceiling with thinset. Ceilings are most always out of level, no one pays attention to them. If you have a cut tile at the ceiling (on the wall) then your best option is to remove the top row, install the ceiling, then cut the top row to it. If you have a full tile up there you don’t want to do that, you’ll have a sliver of tile filling in that gap. Honestly your best option at that point is to remove the ceiling above the shower, shim out the portion that is out of level, and reinstall the board.

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