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Tiling a backsplash on plaster walls

Beth_A._Hendrickson's picture

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Hi, I'm remodeling my kitchen, and want to put subway tile as a backsplash/wainscot on two walls. The walls are old plaster/lathe with a gloss enamel paint. Can I adhere the tile directly to the plaster, perhaps using a deglosser first to take the paint down a bit? I don't want to add too much thickness by putting up cement board etc, since that will make the tile thicker than the window and door moldings. Or do I have to take down the plaster and put up cement board in its place? Thanks for any help with this.

Beth

(post #163654, reply #1 of 11)

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You bet you can adhere that tile to sound plaster. Ask your tile distributor (real one) or wait here for someone to advise you on the mastic to use. Scratching the surface to degloss certainly wouldn't hurt.

(post #163654, reply #2 of 11)

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You can attach tile to plaster walls. The most important thing is that the plaster is in fact still solidly attached to the walls.

Rough up the surface with 40 grit sand paper in a random orbit sander then use a polymer modified thinset mortar to attach the tiles. Mastic would work as well but I avoid the use of mastics for anything except decorative installations.

Dave

(post #163654, reply #3 of 11)

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Hi Beth. I might get flamed for this but I've installed backsplash tile over drywall/plaster several times using clear silicone in a caulking gun. Run a bead around the tile and stick it on. Clean the wall with TSP beforehand. Ready to grout in an hour..... No failures after 6 years.

good luck

(post #163654, reply #4 of 11)

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My biggest area of skepticism would be the old paint. There are usually many layers of paint on old lath and plaster walls, and if any one of them stops sticking to the next one, the whole shebang falls off. So I'd put a little extra elbow grease into scraping it back to the plaster. You don't need to be careful about it, gouges and a rough surface are good for getting the mastic to adhere. You're also absolutely sure how sound and solid the plaster is this way, because you can see it and touch it. Sometimes the chemicals in the mastic can act like paint stripper and loosen seemingly sound paint.

-- J.S.

(post #163654, reply #5 of 11)

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Go ahead and use mastic so long as the walls won't see too much water (what wall would?). It is just way easier for a do-it-yourself application. Leave the thinset on walls to the pros.

Ditto on the paint thing.

(post #163654, reply #6 of 11)

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Hey Beth,

What did you end up doing for your kitchen cabinets? Did you build them like you had planned?

(post #163654, reply #7 of 11)

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Hi Frank, Thanks for asking. Thanks for the responses from the rest of you too, very helpful! And no, I haven't done the cabinets yet. Things are going a lot more slowly than I thought, with other projects intervening. At present I have taken down a couple of walls, had the plumbing done, put in a new window (shorter, to allow cabs under), and am slowly chipping off the old linoleum so I can refinish the wood floor underneath. I will be doing the cabinets as soon as the electrical stuff is finished and I can put the walls back. I think I'm going to do the traditional face frame cabinets rather than the method we discussed. Taking my time, but I will get there!

(post #163654, reply #8 of 11)

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Sounds like you're moving right along. Give a hollar if you run into any problems and should have any questions.

(post #163654, reply #9 of 11)

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The note by Jim L about using silicone caulk to set tile is valid. 100% silicone caulk with full coverage would be far superior to any tile mastic. However mastic is cleanable with water -- silicone if I remember correctly, is not affected by any known solvents. This could portend the start of a nightmare from hell as in sticky everywhere. Even given the best case it would be far easier to cleanup excess mastic than silicone from the grout joints.
Mastic should work fine, but do listen to John Sprung and try a test area before setting tile.
Good Building,
Jim Malone

(post #163654, reply #11 of 11)

What type of mastic?

 

 

(post #163654, reply #10 of 11)

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Hi, I'm remodeling my kitchen, and want to put subway tile as a backsplash/wainscot on two walls. The walls are old plaster/lathe with a gloss enamel paint. Can I adhere the tile directly to the plaster, perhaps using a deglosser first to take the paint down a bit? I don't want to add too much thickness by putting up cement board etc, since that will make the tile thicker than the window and door moldings. Or do I have to take down the plaster and put up cement board in its place? Thanks for any help with this.

Beth