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Thread: Tiling ceiling above shower: Pros and Cons?

  1. #1

    Tiling ceiling above shower: Pros and Cons?

    We are tired of mold forming on the bathroom ceiling above the shower. The ceiling is dry-walled with a textured finish. Cleaning is a PITA: You need to rub it very hard and then the plaster starts to crumble.

    We are going to tile the side walls to help with the cleaning issue, but are also considering tiling the ceiling above the shower. I havenít seen any bathrooms with that feature (probably didn't pay attention... who checks other people showers? ), but have heard that it is done. What would be the pros and cons for this? Also, as a DIY project how much more difficult it is compared to just dealing with the walls (I am thinking along the lines of how to fight gravity and weight load, among other things)?

    I am also worried that it has the potential of making the ceiling look very ugly if you donít choose your tile carefully, but thatís another story.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    West of Ft. Worth, TX
    I tiled the shower ceiling at our other house. I put backer board up up on the walls and ceiling. I used 4 X 6 wall tiles, and matching 4 X 4 wall tiles for the ceiling so that the grout lines matched all around. No problem with it. The suction of the mastic held the tiles up fine. If you went with a heavy tile, then that might be a different situation, but I had no problem at all. Jim.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Savannah, GA
    I once owned a house with his and hers baths. "His" bath had a fully tiled shower, including the ceiling. All 4 x 4 blue ceramic with white grout previous owner's choice, not mine). My only issue was cleaning the on the upper reaches of the walls and the ceiling. That was a pain. I never figured out a way to spray the ceiling with any type of cleaner without the cleaner ending up on me, and I had to stand on a step ladder to reach the ceiling.

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Mid Michigan
    Mold will form on the grout if you don't use a mold/mildew resistant grout. If you have a mold problem in your bathroom you may also have a ventilation problem as well. There is a mold/mildew resistant wall board that you can use on the ceiling along with mold/mildew resistant paint, that along with proper ventilation should eliminate any future problems. I think the wallboard is a purple color at Home Depot. If you can't find the paint, there is an additive you can add to the paint to make it work for you.
    David B

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Bucks County, Pennsylvania
    What is on the walls now?

    I always tile the ceiling when I make a shower -- you have to if it is a steam shower.

    Not always over a tub -- it depends on the look. I like to drop the ceiling height also.

    Often I use the same tile as the walls but I have also used white and off white with good results.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Mansfield MA
    pros are it should help solve your problem, and should look good when "clean".
    Cons are that unless you seal the grout correctly, you'll just end up with mold on the grout. and cleaning it will be "interesting".

    another con is the time it takes to install. I mean, you can only install 10 really small tiles or 2 larger tiles at a time while the mastic/cement sets LOL (think about it for a second....)

    You can always paint the ceiling with something made for that purpose. I did that in ours, and have not had a problem. +1 on the ventilation comment - you should have some sort of exhaust fan.

    you might also want to check the insulation above the ceiling (if it's an attic, for instance). if it's cooler, you'll tend to get more condensation - and if the tectured ceiling has not been painted, I bet it just soaks up the moisture.
    Last edited by JohnT Fitzgerald; 12-03-2009 at 9:22 PM.
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  7. #7
    Thanks for all the input! I didn't think about mold resistant paint... that could be another option.

    I do have decent ventilation in the bathroom and the exhaust fan runs well. It's not that we have a ton of mold, just a couple of small black spots that have formed over 3 years (I probably came up too dramatic with the 'mold' problem).

    Since we were planning on tiling the walls, I thought the ceiling would also be a nice addition. I'll think about it a little more

  8. #8
    For years we have had a mold problem in the shower stall - which is mostly enclosed, just a couple square foot opening above the door. Just a week ago, I installed a ventilation fan in the ceiling right above the shower. The fan turns on, and runs for 30 minutes. The painted drywall above the tiled section is wet to the touch when I get out of the shower, when the fan turns off - it is definitely dry. We'll see exactly how it all works long term, but I am pretty sure our mold problem is now history...
    Last edited by Jeff Bratt; 12-05-2009 at 2:58 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Chico, California
    We have a rental that had the same problem. It is located right on the creek. We painted the ceiling adding anti mold to the paint and put a fan in the high spot - no problem for 2 years now.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT Fitzgerald View Post
    pros are it should help solve your problem, and should look good when "clean".
    Cons are that unless you seal the grout correctly, you'll just end up with mold on the grout. and cleaning it will be "interesting".

    How about using epoxy grout? It's roughly 20 times more expensive than sanded grout. But it will not mold or mildew. It will not shrink or crack. It will never change color. And it doesn't need to be sealed.

    I used it in my entire house -- Not just the bathrooms and kitchen. If I wanted to, I could pour a bottle of grape juice on the floor and let it soak all day. Nothing would happen to the grout.

    Best of all, the newer epoxy grouts are no harder to work with than sanded grout.
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  11. #11
    Your problem is inadequate ventilation. A different type of grout may help, but won't stop the problem.

    You will have the best luck by installing a vent above the shower to take steam away.

    Plenty of people tile above the showerhead and onto the ceiling. I did in my basement shower.

    I would not use mastic in a wet location. You want to use thinset. Mastic might hold up, but it's really intended for dry locations.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Griswold Connecticut

    If you are currently getting mold above the shower it's an odds on bet that no matter what you do, you will continue to get mold until the ceiling is replaced.

    Tiling a ceiling in a shower is a great idea, and you will not regret it one bit. I am currently remodeling our bathroom downstairs, and the shower will be tiled floor to ceiling. Our upstairs bathroom, which I remodeled 15 years ago is also a tiled ceiling.
    You need to install a vent fan. If you are going to rip out the ceiling anyway, put a fan in. It's the perfect time to do it.
    You don't want to use "Mastic". Mastic and Thinset are two terms that get interspersed in conversation. Mastic is not recommended in a wet environment. Thinset is the product that you want to use, as Shawn pointed out.
    The tiling forum run by John Bridge is aa outstanding resource site, much like the format here. Very helpful people, and the "Liberry" is a must read section for anyone contemplating any tile job. John's book, "Tile your World is definitely worth the price, and can be purchased on the site.
    Last edited by Mike Cutler; 12-05-2009 at 1:03 PM.
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