Can You Install Floor Tiles on a Wall?

by Roger


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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Joseph Doyle

Ayo Roger,
You mention in your “Kerdi shower waterproofing” download that Kerdi will not adhere to green board. Why is this? I have green board currently installed in my tub surround (planning to use Kerdi method) and would very much like to keep the green board in place.



Hi Roger,
Do you recommend using pebble tile to finish your shower floor? If so, do you basically install it the same way you would regular floor tile?
Thanks a bunch!



Hi Michele,

I do not recommend them. I actually HATE them. They are also very uncomfortable on bare feet, which is what you will be stomping all over them with. But yes, you install it the same way.


Joe F

Hey Roger,

I made the mistake of putting 2″ x 2″ tiles on my shower floor of a tile that is hard to match. This being my first tile job, I didn’t plan properly. Finally, I’ve found the floor/wall tile from the same series, but it’s at a store 1.5 hours from my home in NYC(I’ll make the trip if I can use them). Yet they only have them in tile in sizes of 8×16 and 8×32. Problem is the widths of my shower walls are 39.5″ by 35.5″ by 39.5″. Is there any way I could arrange those tiles on the walls so they would look ok? Or can I cut them into 8×8 tiles and then put them on the walls. The manufacturer says it’s a “porcelain tile that looks like marble.”

The tile is: Gardenia Orchidea Varenna beige.




Hi Joe,

You can cut them down to any size you want and use them. I once cut 12×24 tiles down to 2×2 for a shower floor (True story). Not saying it doesn’t suck, just saying it can be done. :D



Hi Roger,
Selecting a heavy floor tile (encaustic/cement tile) that’s 5/8″ thick but to be used on a 4′ x 9′ (wxh) wall section. Can special order same pattern in 3/8″ thickness instead, if necessary. I know ‘normal’ floor tile can be set on walls, but this is really beefy stuff (8×8″ tile = 2-1/2#). Any feedback, precautions, particular thinset?
Thanks, Mark



Hi Mark,

While it would likely be fine, I would order the thinner stuff for that application.



Hi Roger,
The flooring in my bathroom doesnt go all the way to the wall, it leaves about 1″ is there something to fix this,like a trim flooring tile that is self adhesive, and what would that be called and where can it be purchased?
And my counter by the sink is wood, and I wanted to use vinyl tile to make it more durable to being wet, so wall tile and floor tile only differ by their durability? Would it then be ok to use floor vinyl tile or wall vinyl tile for the counter?



Hi Janelle,

Vinyl tiles are completely different than regular ceramic or porcelain tile. I don’t really know if it would work for what you intend. And you didn’t say what type of flooring you have. There are self-adhesive vinyl tiles sold in home depot and the like in the flooring section.


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