How to Add Tile Over Wood Paneling

A wall of tile.

Wood paneling can be a great look — or it may be one you are ready to say goodbye too. Instead of going through the hassle of taking it down, you can simply put tile over it. Here are a few tips to help you refresh your space.

Tip 1 - Check the Backing

The most important thing you need to do when tiling over wood paneling is to make sure that the panels are strong enough to hold the tiles. The wood paneling will often have drywall behind or secured to it, so you will not have to worry about it. If there is no drywall, then you may need to better secure the wall to make sure that it is stable enough to hold the tile.

Tip 2 - Use the Lightest Tile Possible

Even after you check to make sure the paneling can hold the tile, you should use the lightest tile possible that will still adhere to your design ideas. Of course, you want the room and wall to look great, but weighing down the wall can cause problems in the long run. Find a tile that is light but still offers the aesthetic you want.

Tip 3 - Treat the Wood

Before doing any tile work, you may want to consider where the wood paneling is. If it is exposed to extreme weather changes or moisture, you should treat it. Even though it will be covered with the tile, you want to avoid any chances of the wood changing size or moving. You can do so with just one coat of finish. Allow it to dry completely before beginning any work with tile.

Tip 4 - Use a Waterproof Membrane

While you can treat the wood, you may also want to have an actual waterproofing membrane installed between the wood and the tile. It may help to avoid any problems with the wood swelling or warping while also providing a better surface to attach the tile.

Tip 5 - Use Modified Thin Set Mortar

While you may be inclined to use a regular tile adhesive when you are doing the tile work, you want to avoid doing so. Make sure that you are using a modified thin set mortar, or at the very least, something that is going to stick well to both the wood surface and the tile.

While often times it is said that you should not try tiling over wood paneling, there are many ways to avoid typical problems associated with doing so either by using membranes or altering the tile size and weight. With the use of these tips, you can tile over the wood paneling in your home.