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We removed a tub wall surround and want to replace it with tile. We don't plan to tile to the ceiling.

Can we cut out only the drywall where the tub wall was and replace that with cement backer board? Or do I need to go to the ceiling with the cement board and paint over it?

Just to be clear, I am not talking about putting cement board on the ceiling. I am wondering if I can leave some of the drywall on the wall and only put cement board/denshield where I plan to tile. Leaving about 2 feet of drywall from the ceiling down.

For example, in this photo only the tiled area would have cement board and the tan area would have the original drywall.

http://www.mcadamsremodeling.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/738309_10_0_BEFORE.jpg

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When i do a shower i use denshield instead of cement backer board. It is the same thickness as sheetrock so there is not funky transition to deal with, much lighter and scores and snaps like sheetrock.

It is light and easy to work with and has a water proof membrane, you need to waterproof/seal the seams and screw heads. I stop the denshield two inches below where the top of the last/top tile will be so that there is drywall above and no seam to deal with.

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Alaska man's suggestion is a good one. However, it's not necessary to use anything other than drywall above your tile in my opinion.

Also, it's common to leave the drywall slightly below the top edge of the tile so that the joint between the backer board and drywall gets covered, saving finishing time.

Use high quality primer and paint. This assumes that you have adequate ventilation and are using it appropriately.

  • It can't hurt to use greenboard. For @ChicKnave, it's drywall that has the paper layers impregnated with a water-resistant material, colored green to make it recognizable. There are also a few other water-resistant variations. It's used in shower areas. The cost difference is insignificant and it adds a little extra protection over regular drywall. – fixer1234 Feb 6 '18 at 1:25

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