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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richard

Hi Roger,
We are working on the of a bathroom in a mid-century modern house. We would like to use colored tile (blue) but it seems all the colored tile for walls, back splashes etc. Does anyone make colored floor tiles?
Thanks for the help!

Reply

Roger

Hi Richard,

What shade of blue? :D I know Florida tile and Dal tile both have a few blue porcelains.

Reply

Bea Crider

I am trying to use peal and stick linoleum tiles to cov
er the inside walls of some cabinets. Unfortunately I cannot get them to stick. Has anyone ever done this and is there a glue I can use to get these tiles to adhere.

Reply

Roger

Hi Bea,

You can use regular linoleum glue to bond those to your cabinets if you want to.

Reply

Bea Crider

Thank you I also found that superglue will work. I believe the tiles would probably stick if someone could hold them for about 15 minutes until the glue bonds with the wall, however, having to kneel down in the cabinets to do this is bad enough and to spend up to 2 hours in them…not. Thank you again for your reply/

Reply

Jonathan

I am installing some tile in my under the stairs half bath. I was planning to tile the whole wall that the vanity is on, floor to ceiling (9′). The tile I am installing is a 12×24 porcelain that weighs about 9lb each. The wall is painted Sheetrock now, should I replace that with durock, or is the Sheetrock sufficient?

Reply

Roger

Hi Jonathon,

Sheetrock is more than sufficient. Sheer is what you’re worried about, not the weight of the tile.

Reply

Wes

I will be installing kitchen backsplash that is on a mesh.
Can this be installed to drywall or do I need to install backerboard?
Modified thinset; correct?

Reply

Roger

Hi Wes,

Yes, you can install it to drywall with modified thinset.

Reply

rad chander

Roger,

Amazing knowledge and more amazing is that your willingness to share. Really enjoy the content/style of your writing. When one’s passion becomes their profession, happiness is a nice by-product. I am trying to redo my daughter’s bathroom. Demo done. Hardiebacker (1/2inch upto the ceiling on three walls. Planning to us onyx crystal (from Home depot) 12×24 porcelain glazed tiles. They are 3/8” thick. They seem a little heavy for walls. Should I go for 1) thinner tiles 2) any difference between glazed/non-glazed (viz. insatallation, maintanence etc.) 3) Preferred grout line and trowel notch size for 12×24 .

Thank you again for your great website.
Kind regards,
Chander

Reply

Roger

Hi Rad,

1. Those tiles are just fine. Sheer strength of the bond will be MORE than enough on your walls.
2. Glazed are a much better choice. Unglazed tiles are a pain in the ass to keep clean. :D
3. Grout lines. Trowel notch.

Reply

Kelley

My husband and I are redoing our bathroom next month. we are purchasing 12×12 ceramic “floor” tiles to put in our shower, is this even possible? Neither one of us has done this before, do you have any beginners suggestions for us? we are replacing all of the drywall in the bathroom.

Thanks,
Kelley

Reply

Roger

Hi Kelley,

Yes it’s possible. There is no such thing as a ‘floor tile’, only tiles which are also suitable for floors. They can be used nearly anywhere. I would suggest downloading my free waterproofing manual, and reading around on the site a lot.

Reply

connie

We had a surround tub unit on sheetrock . we tore that out. My question is do we need to tear sheetrock out to put heavy backerboard on it or can we use quarter inch backerboard and leave sheetrock up. We are going to use 12by12 tile on tub surround.

Reply

Roger

Hi Connie,

You need to remove it and put up 1/2″ backer. You do not want drywall anywhere behind your tile.

Reply

Joan

Hey Roger, and Happy Wednesday —

I asked the tile person if I could use a certain display item (meant for floors) on the three tub & shower walls. He said they’d be fine — except
that since they’re mainly floor tiles, there’d be no trim. And I need something to edge the tile on two sides. He suggested a specific metal
made for this purpose, but I didn’t see it, and I’m skeptical. Will metal
work, and look good?

Reply

Roger

Hi Joan,

I imagine he was talking about schluter edge trims (google that). Yes, they look great and work just fine. I use it a lot.

Reply

Mayur

Hi Roger,

Thank you so much for the quick response.

Also, could you please tell me whether 4′ * 2′ tile can be used for the small bathroom size of 8’6 ” * 5′.

Thanks,
Mayur

Reply

Roger

Yes it can.

Reply

Mayur

Hi Roger,

Could you please tell me whether 4’*2′ floor tile would be difficult to lay in the bathroom of size 8’6″*5′. I was been told that it would be a challenge to go with a bigger tiles, since slope will be difficult to achieve in a small bathroom size .

Also, if you can tell me what is the standard slope required for the bathroom and the toilets.

Please advice.

Thanks,

Mayur

Reply

Roger

Hi Mayur,

There is no slope required on a regular bathroom floor. It is only required in the floor of a shower area. It should slope 1/4″ per foot from the perimeter to the drain, but again, only in a shower floor. Your bathroom floor can (and should be) flat.

Reply

MJ

Hi Roger,
What is your recommendation regarding the installation of heavy sheets of 1/2″ thick 2×4 marble tiles on a painted drywall backsplash? The paint is eggshell. Should I sand it, score it, or treat it with something, or will my latex-modified porcelain mortar adhere to that surface without such preparation? Thanks, as always, for your valuable input! — MJ

Reply

Roger

Hi MJ,

I would sand it a bit just to scuff it up and ensure a proper bond.

Reply

Chris Dickman

Roger,
I am going to install some very heavy 12 x 24 porcelain tiles in our shower for my mother. I know I need a good thin set, but also a good backer board. Am I better off using the cement board (I’ve been told it’s horrible to work with) or a good hardibacker board?

Thanks,
Chris

Reply

Roger

Hi Chris,

You can use either.

Reply

matt

Hello Roger,
I have a glazed porcelain tile that I am installing on my walls. Everytime I cut this with my wet saw the glazing chips on the cut edge. I have tried using tape, changing the blade, and turning tile upside down. Nothing seems to help. Its crucial that these pieces be cut without chipping as they will be exposed. Any advice?
Thanks, Matt

Reply

Roger

Hi Matt,

Some tile is not annealed correctly which builds up pressure in the tile – you simply can’t cut them without a bit of chipping. Get a rubbing stone and smooth the edge after you cut it, that will make consistent, clean edges.

Reply

Cliff

Hi Roger
Is installing tile or stone on an interior wall more difficult then installing tile on a floor? What do I need to watch out for?

Thanks
Cliff

Reply

Roger

Hi Cliff,

It is a bit more difficult, but the same process. It’s just the stacking from bottom to top that may create problems if you don’t support them correctly.

Reply

sandra

Hi Roger
I bought 6×24 tiles. I want them over my bathroom wall expect around tub. what kind of adesihibe or thin set should I use?
I want them to b installed in vertical position.
Thk u for your help

Reply

Roger

Hi Sandra,

Any good modified thinset will work. You can get versabond at home depot or mapei ultraflex at lowes.

Reply

MJ

Roger,
We are using 1/2″ thick 2×4 tiles in 12×12 sheets for our backsplash. Our tiles just came in wooden crates with no instructions or specifications except “Studio Prima, Catamarca Green, 5×10 (cm) Mossaic”.

1) What notch size do you recommend on our trowel to get the proper thinset coverage?

2) Do you have any pointers for completely filling in the varying 1/16″ – 1/8″ spaces with grout?

3) They look like they’re marble, so would you recommend sealing them before grouting?

Thanks,
MJ :-|

Reply

Roger

Hi MJ,

1. 3/16″ u-notch.

2. When installing your grout install it at a 45 degree angle to the grout line in all directions.

3. They ‘look’ like marble, or they are marble? It makes a huge difference. If they are green marble you need to find out if it is a serpentine marble, if that’s the case it can not be set with regular thinset, it may curl (like warping wood – seriously). The manufacturer can tell you that, but you NEED to find out. If you don’t you may just be throwing money out the window if you set it with thinset, you may need to use epoxy setting material.

Reply

MJ

Thanks for the response! The tile store from whom we purchased the tile says they are marble but doesn’t know if they’re serpentine.

1) Can you tell serpentine marble just by looking?

They also have no contact information for the manufacturer (in Italy) and no further information about the tile! They suggested I use “regular” thinset, but now I’m a little worried.

They also suggested I might want to mix sanded and unsanded grout, but I don’t know if that was just an attempt to get me to buy TWO 10-pound bags of grout instead of one. I didn’t buy any from them.

2) What do you think about mixing sanded and unsanded? Is it worth doubling the cost?

Thanks, as always

Reply

Roger

Hi MJ,

No, you can not tell if it’s serpentine by looking at it. Take a piece and set it in a container with water only half the depth of the tile. Leave it there for 24 hours then remove it and let it air dry. If it stays flat you should be able to set it with thinset. It it warps or curls you need to use epoxy. Serpentines curl due to uneven drying capabilities as the thinset cures – the bottom of the tile is wet and the top dry.

If you mix sanded grout with unsanded grout you have – sanded grout. That’s bullshit. :D

Reply

Nader

Hi Roger,

We are working on a project and using porcelain 60*60 tiles for the wall in a tunnel. Now, we are using a system that we call it”scoping the tiles” which means using a wire in the back of the tiles for putting in a masonary.

Do you have any experiences about this case?

I also can send you the photo of the way we are wroking.

Thanks,
Nader

Reply

Roger

Hi Nader,

Never heard of it. I may have heard of it called something else though. If you want to send me a photo at Roger@FloorElf.com I can take a look and see.

Reply

Tara Sylvestre

Hi Roger,
I have some beautiful ceramic tiles, 12×12 and 4×4, which were originally meant to be used for flooring. I am wondering if I could use them for a counter backsplash. They are 3/8″ thick. My worry is that the 12×12 tiles would be too heavy to wall mount. I would like to mount them two high.

I am also not certain how to deal with this thickness around electrical outlets. My plan had been to tile around the faceplate and just make it look as nice as possible but I am open to any other ideas.

Thanks, Tara

Reply

Roger

Hi Tara,

Yes, they can be used on the counter. The tile are not too heavy for a wall, just use thinset, they’ll be just fine. Remove the outlet covers, unscrew the outlets from the wall, tile, and reinstall the outlets with longer screws which allow the outlets to lay flush with the tile.

Reply

trish

I found a 20×20 ceramic tile that I would like to use in a shower. It’s originally for floors- glazed, semi-smooth (sort of a fake slate texture). I’m concerned that it might be difficult to keep clean in the shower. Any thoughts?

Reply

Roger

Hi Trish,

Completely up to you how much maintenance you’re willing to provide with your shower tile, I can’t see it from here. :D Yes, it will require more, no it’s not a deal breaker at all. It just requires a bit more long-term work.

Reply

Cindy

Roger….

First and foremost… Thank God for you and your willingness to assists us do it yourselfer’s :)

My brother and I decided to take on the project of remodeling my master bathroom. We did alot of research regarding demolition of a shower/tub and converting it into a shower. In addition, we research the options relative to the shower pan and decided to go with a cumstom made preformed pan manufacturerd and sold by KBRS.

We feel we successfully managed to complete the subfloor preparation ( concrete slab with hardiback board on top as a substrate) Had a plumber reconfigure our drain, install and modify the height of a new valve and raise the shower head. We placed the drain and the preformed pan exactly per KBRS instructions, and then installed hardiback board on all walls per KBRS and manufacturers instructions. We then used Redguard to waterproof the entire shower stall area (2 coats). Of course we then thought we were homefree and on the easy road to tiling. NOT!! We neglected to do our homework on this one and now I think we have “screwed the pooch”.

We have 12 x 12 porcelin tiles set in polymer thinset motar, we apparently got cocky and thought we could do this part without any help. We have tiled the lower portion of the back wall, starting from the floor up and starting from the back left corner moving across the wall to the right. We also started both side walls starting from the floor up and from the back walls towards the curb, we now realize we are in trouble….. Imagine that! We did this all wrong. Nothing like Monday morning quarterbacking.

We started to notice that even though we checked to make sure all our walls were level and square at the pan, we neglected to think that the walls would not be square up top. Now there is a growing gap where the side wall meets the back wall and I fear we will have the same problem on the other side. We left only 1/8″ between the bottom wall tiles and the pan, so we can’t position the floor tiles underneath the wall tiles.

So my questions are:

1) Can we place the floor tiles so they butt up against the wall tiles and seal where they meet with 100% silicone caulk?

2) Do we just continue and do the best we can to make it look tolerable and live with our special “art” as a constant reminder of our over inflated ego’s?

3) Do we; can we; remove all the tiles and scrap off whatever thinset we can, redo those area’s of hardibacker with the redguard to waterproof and start tiling fresh.

4) Do you have any suggustions for us to help us out of our self created misery.

Any help you could give us would be greatly appreciated. I wish I had found you before I started this project.

Respectfully,
Cindy

Reply

Roger

Hi Cindy,

1. Yes.

2. Yes. :D You can always ‘grow’ the vertical grout lines as you go up the wall a little so the tiles will be at least closer to the corners.

3. That would be the best option. Start by centering either a grout line or a full tile on the back wall and cut as needed up the wall in the corner. Start both side walls AT THE CURB and tile back to the corner, cutting there as needed.

4. See number three. :D

And don’t feel too badly, it’s still a hell of a lot better than my first attempt. :D

Reply

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?

Reply

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.

Reply

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