So you have decided that your bathroom decoration needs an update. You might find yourself in a similar situation many other householders. You have a half tiled bathroom.
The photo above shows a typical bathroom in dire need of an update. There are only a few rows of tiles installed around the bath. These would provide a degree of waterproofing for bathing. But they are insufficient for use with a shower
So something needs to be done. What options are there?
You could tile above the existing tiles, extending the3area up to a more useable level.
Or, you could rip off all the tiles but this runs the risk of damaging the walls.
Another option is to fit a product that can be installed straight over the tiles that you already have.
So let’s look at each option in more detail.
Add Extra Rows Of Tiles
This is not quite as straightforward as it might first appear.
The first problem will be matching the existing tiles. Tiles are made in batches and will vary in colour. So even if you can source the same tiles they will probably be a slightly different shade.
Plain white 150mm tiles are a standard design but might still be subject to slight variations in shading.
Just finding similar tiles is hard enough – you then have to fit them using the same spacing as the existing ones. Most tilers will use spacers but some are old fashioned and will use matches or bits of cardboard.
The chances are the wall above the tiles has been painted. So any new tiles will then be relying on sticking to the paint and the paint sticking to the wall.
Overall, adding extra rows of tiles is not a great idea. It will work to some extent but the results will vary considerably. It could still end up looking like a half tiled bathroom. One half will look different to the other one.
Half Tiled Bathroom – Rip Off And Re-Tile
This has more chance of success.
All of the tiles that you use for the re-fit will be from the same batch. So you shouldn’t have any colour variations.
Hacking off the old tiles can be straightforward but there can also be problems.
Tiles fitted to plasterboard have a nasty habit of taking large chunks of the board with them. This then has to be made good before the new tiles are fitted.
The surface of the wall will need to be cleaned up and levelled. All the old adhesive has to be removed to make the wall smooth for the new tiles.
Old, cemented-on tiles are even more problematic. They are notoriously difficult to hack off and can take large chunks of the wall with them when they come off.
There must be an easier solution surely?
Luckily there is.
Panel Over The Existing Tiles
Tiles are still a very popular choice for some people but the number of people that would prefer a wall covering that does not require any on-going maintenance.
These panels have the added advantage that they can be installed straight over the existing tiles.
The above photo is typical of many UK bathrooms in that tiles have been installed but only part way up the wall. If you are in a similar situation then you have two choices:
- remove the existing tiles and fit the panels to the wall
- leave the tiles in place and panel over the top
If the tiles come off easily then removing them and getting back to the original wall should be pretty straightforward. If, however, the tiles are fitted to plasterboard or the tiles are the old fashioned type that are cemented on to the wall you will usually cause more damage to the wall than it’s worth – so the second option is the better choice.
Leave The Tiles In Place
Leaving the tiles in place is not a major issue – you simply need to pack out the top half of the wall to the same depth as the thickness of the tiles. This can be done by sticking some plywood, hardboard, MDF or plasterboard to the top half of the wall. Ensure that the thickness of your chosen material is the same as the depth of the tile and roughly patch in the top of the wall – it does not have to be a work of art as it will be completely covered by the wall panels.
If the tiles are very thin then it is also possible to just put the panels straight onto the wall as it is – use a thin “snake” of adhesive on the bottom of the panels where they cover the tiles and bigger, blobs of adhesive on the top half. Gently push the panels home against the wall and they will find their own level Push the bottom half into place first (use a piece of timber as a straight edge to ensure you don’t push them too far).
So if you have a half tiled bathroom you have several option open to you. But only one that will reduce your future maintenance issues.