I have a bathroom where water-resistant drywall was put up around and over the tub. Is it okay to put tile over the drywall around the tub or shower?

If not, what can I do to be able to put tile?

  • How long do you want it to last? Tile over drywall will not last nearly as long as tile over backerboard. Many builders or flippers will put tile over drywall, they will be long gone when it fails in 10-15 years.
    – Mattman944
    Nov 24, 2019 at 0:08
  • 1
    Are you converting a tub to a shower? The situation isn't clear. Please revise to explain further.
    – isherwood
    Nov 24, 2019 at 0:10
  • @Mattman944 Depending on the tastes of the OP or Significant Other, a ten year life-time may be more than sufficient. Fashion in bathroom tiles will certainly have changed in that timescale. Nov 24, 2019 at 14:02

4 Answers 4


The best and safest way is to install your drywall high enough where you know the least amount of water will splash. Then install HardieBacker cement board, tape and mud (thinset) the seams, apply two or three coats of RedGard waterproofing, let it all dry, and finally thinset and tile. I've done two showers this way; it works like a charm.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. It's a little hard understanding what you mean; would you clarify your answer? And, props for taking our tour before posting; few newbies do. Nov 28, 2019 at 22:54
  • Yes. It's funny I got really exited to participate and just started writing, ok first i would measure from the top of the tub to just past the shower head that's where your le
    – Lonnie
    Nov 29, 2019 at 4:52
  • It's great to have new professionals contribute, but I was hoping you would edit your answer to make it clearer and easier to read. Keep working on it! Nov 29, 2019 at 11:05
  • I apologize but how can that be more clear it's a step by step procedure l haven't shared this with any of my peers but I think I will just to see if they agree on the level of difficulty to understand and follow again I apologize
    – Lonnie
    Dec 3, 2019 at 4:38
  • We need more knowledgeable contributors, and clearly you could be one, so thanks. I'll take a stab at editing your post so it seems clearer to me; let me know if I didn't get it right. Dec 3, 2019 at 10:05

Tile over dry wall even water resistant will not last as long but mat survive for up to 25 years if well sealed and has a gap at the bottom of the tub. This method of tiling was quite popular in the 50’s, 60’s and into the 70’s . On repair work I have done on tiled bath and shower stalls neglect is usually the cause of the failure. What was the neglect? Failure to reseal the grout so water finally degraded the Sheetrock to the point tiles fall off or someone pushes the wall in , the larger the tile the longer the wall will last. So can you do it , yes , we flipped several houses with a quick overlay that made a crappy looking bath look like a mid level home. On my own houses I have always stripped down to the studs, on showers I put up poly vapor barrier, not on tub surrounds, then cement board and then tile. My very first tile shower is over 45years old and the only problem has been the fixtures failed and they were tough to replace as I tiled right up to the valves. (My mom still has this home) last time I was home I did acid etch and reseal the entire thing as my step dad can’t do much any longer but asked if I could make sure it would be ok, Mom has always been worried as it was my first shower back in the 70’s. So if done right they really can last a lifetime and this was 2”x 2”.

  • 4
    Aren't you glad you did it right way back when... your mom sure is..
    – JACK
    Nov 24, 2019 at 2:39

I would not be installing tile over drywall in a tub or shower, even if it was the water resistant type. I would remove any existing drywall and vapor barrier and replace it with backer board. Tape the seams with mesh tape and thinset. Then tape the seams with mesh tape and Red Gard or some other waterproof membrane. Then apply the waterproofing material to the entire wall surface according to the manufacturer's instructions. When completely dry you can install the tile. Think about using an epoxy grout, it's waterproof and much more durable than standard grout. Use a quality silicone caulk for any changes in plane. Hope this helps a bit.

  • 2
    +1 Water-resist in NOT water-proof and the permeability of your tile job, depends entirely on the life of your grout. So if you wouldn't shower in it sans tile, don't put tile on it.
    – tahwos
    Nov 24, 2019 at 2:13

Not only is it fine to do this, but some tile companies recommend tiling directly on drywall (plasterboard) because it can hold greater weight than plastered drywall. The only consideration is that when you do want to re-tile in the future removing the old tiles will rip up the surface of the drywall to the point you probably would need to replace it.

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