Tiling Ceiling in Shower, is it Over Kill?

enduringApril 24, 2013

I want to know if tiling my shower ceiling is over kill. In my bathroom that I am tearing out to remodel, we would get mold on the ceiling some years ago when the fan wasn't working. Seemed to be ok since but the mold was a problem before.

I would love a tiled ceiling in the shower, so I could wipe it down easily, but I don't know if I can physically install it. Then the grouting would be hard too. I want to use the Hansgrohe Raindance e420 2 jet shower head that Noopd used. I will link a thread I started regarding the shower, below. I will have an exhaust fan/heat lamp in the room. The room is about 8x8' so 64sf. The ceiling is 8' high.

I plan to use Spectralock Premium Pro epoxy grout on my walls and floor of the bathroom, like I did with my other bathroom remodel.

1) will it be a problem to not tile the ceiling?

2) If I tile the ceiling is there a recommended size? I was thinking of using 24x12 on the shower walls. Would I get a smaller tile for the ceiling so I can lift them overhead? (Ick I am not liking this idea of lifting tile overhead.)

3) If I don't tile the ceiling, what do I use for the ceiling material? Would I still use cement board or Hardibacker?

4) We will be using a heating lamp and fan, all in one type,exhaust fan. Should I install another fan in the shower or just install the fan/heating lamp fixture just outside the shower (which I would prefer because of the smaller size of the room)?

5) Can you paint over Hydroban?

Any help would be great. Thanks.

Here is a link that might be useful: ...please advise on my shower pan

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I've never tiled a ceiling but I do have a bathroom with a tiled ceiling. It's 60 years old and still going strong in a bathroom with no windows. It's a small bath and we really like to create a steam room in there, so I think the ceiling tile is a very good idea. I did some minor grout repair when I first moved in and made sure to seal it. My understanding is that tiling the ceiling is definitely a challenge and requires a highly skilled installer.

If you want to DIY, would it be possible for you to set up a trial in your garage or somewhere? Buy some cheap tile and test out your installation process before trying it on your bathroom? I would guess that smaller tile is going to be easier and will probably look better, sort of like using smaller tile on the shower floor. My ceiling is 4x4 tile.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 12:09AM
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I've tiled a few ceilings in my day.

Personally I don't like the look of tiled ceilings where the ceiling simply transitions from tile to drywall. I feel they look best when the tile is captured by a transom or header over the shower entry.

Tiling a ceiling isn't terribly difficult. It helps to have staging so you're not continually going up and down a ladder. Even if the staging simply a few 2-bys set across a few drywall buckets with a piece of plywood over them, it helps. If you're working off a ladder, then a helper would be...helpful.

If tiling a ceiling, I'll have backer board up on the ceiling instead of drywall. I burn a veneer of thinset on to the cement board. Then burn thinset on to the back of the tile. Then comb thinset on the back of the tile. If the tile is large, I'll sometimes do a ridge of thinset around the perimeter of the tile. Then when you set the tile in place and push it up on the ceiling, the thinset compresses and some describe it as "suction" holding the tile in place.

For typical tile, I've never had a need for bracing or support to hold the tile up. A quality thinset will do the trick nicely. While it depends on the size of the ceiling, I usually use whatever thinset I used on the rest of the shower. If I was hanging a 3/4" thick natural stone tile, then I'd shift gears to a non-sag or some other mortar. But for "regular tile" a modified thinset will do the job fine. You can buy highly modified in a bag, or unmodified and ad liquid admix to it for better tack.

If for whatever reason I think the tile might creep, I'll use blue tape across the grout line to tape one tile to another, to bridge grout lines to prevent lateral tile creep. Just a precaution.

I do know a few that advocate using a "tie-together" system like TLS. But TLS, when it registers one tile to another, can pull a tile away from the ceiling. That's what you DON'T want to do, break the suction between the tile and the ceiling.

Grouting can be more difficult than tiling. It's that thing called "gravity" that tends to get in the way at times.

I simply use less grout on the float at a time, so there is more repetition of motion in terms of loading the float and applying it to the grout lines. You simply do less at a time. Same with cleaning.

If you use a large tile on the ceiling like the 12x24s, they can work...the issue is pressing them into place over your head to compress the thinset ring (if you did the perimeter of thinset around the tile) or the thinset ridges (if you used the notched edge of the trowel to simply comb out the thinset). The larger the tile, the more force needed per tile.

1) will it be a problem to not tile the ceiling? If you have proper ventilation, "regular" materials can work fine. Add to that today's better materials; paperless drywall, for example, and non-tiled ceilings can work well. A fan on a timer, even better.

2) If I tile the ceiling is there a recommended size? Tile size isn't an issue, but the physicality of installing larger tile can be. With more surface area per inch of perimeter, large tiles, while they my seem more difficult to install, can be easier to install and there is less grouting. So overall, larger tiles are easier.

3) If I don't tile the ceiling, what do I use for the ceiling material? I'll usually use a version of moisture or mold resistant drywall for bathroom walls and ceilings.

4) We will be using a heating lamp and fan, all in one type,exhaust fan. Should I install another fan in the shower or just install the fan/heating lamp fixture just outside the shower (which I would prefer because of the smaller size of the room)? These days it's all about moisture control, and controlling it as best as you can right at the source. For non-steam showers. I prefer a fan inside the shower. If a fan is desired outside the shower and the bathroom is small, I'll install a fan with two ventilation grills, one in the bathroom and one in the shower.

If the shower does not have a transom over the door, ie, the shower is somewhat open to the bathroom, then a single fan outside the shower can work. But I prefer to design showers so they contain moisture within that space, and that's why I prefer a fan within the shower.

It can also depend on the users. Long, hot showers? Might be best to have a fan in the shower. Get in, get out? A single fan outside might be okay.

5) Can you paint over Hydroban? I never have, It'd be best to call Laticrete tech support and ask them directly. Or they night mention it in the HydroBan literature.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 9:32AM
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Consider a shower drying fan - really eliminates mold.

Here is a link that might be useful: Shower Drying System

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:35AM
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Just the guy I wanted to hear from :)

My area will be open to the rest of the room with about a foot from the shower door to the ceiling. That is just a guess because I have not decided on shower doors yet. I want to mount everything higher because there are a couple of tall ones in the family like 6'-4".

Thanks for the great ceiling tile instructions!

I do know a few that advocate using a "tie-together" system like TLS. But TLS, when it registers one tile to another, can pull a tile away from the ceiling. That's what you DON'T want to do, break the suction between the tile and the ceiling.
That is something I thought those systems would do, so didn't think of looking into it much.

The ceiling area will be 4x3 which isn't too big. Maybe I can try it. I would love the peace of mind with the mold. The large tiles would be great to use because of less grouting. Maybe I can get DH to shove the tiles in place :)

1) I was thinking of tiling the ceiling first then set the walls. Would that be proper - does it make any difference?

1) If I straddled the glass shower door with a fan, is it as effective as having a fan in the shower?

2) In my 8x8 space, which will also house a stacked washer and dryer, would it be better to have 2 fans? One in the shower and then one outside with a heater?

3) If I went with a shower fan and room fan do you size the fans for their prospective space? shower fan for the shower and room fan for the remainder of the room?

4) How do you like the humidity controlled fan switches for controlling moisture?

Plan view, with north at the top, that is getting fairly detailed. The wall behind the shower and w/d stack will actually be a 6" wall but isn't drawn that way. The pocket doors are 32". The shower head in the shower stall is drawn to scale, the Hansgrohe Raindance e420 2jet :)

This image has text that refers to the cabinet sizing, that I had sent to the cabinet maker:

This post was edited by enduring on Thu, Apr 25, 13 at 11:54

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 11:40AM
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The first bathroom we renoed was in our basement, and I was really concerned about the musty smell it used to have, no mold that I could see. We gutted, and jackhammered and built a new drain, and put a drain in our furnace room which adjoined and had never had a drain. It had had a fan in there, (only bathrooom that did), but I don't think it was particularly useful... The room is a little bigger than the one you are doing, and we only have one fan in there, a Panosonic Whisper on a timer. We have it just outside the shower, between the shower and the toilet (again, for smell issues, LOL). Our ceiling is actually 3" lower than 8 feet, and we did not tile. We used a mold resistant drywall designed for bathroom ceilings (we used that throughout the bathroom), and painted with BM Aura. Not a speck of moisture, mold or anything on that ceiling, and musty smell completely gone!

Our PO had tiled the ceiling of the miniscule shower we used to have in our Master Bath, it was separated from the rest of the BR by headers, but it was ugly, flowered tile, and perhaps that is why I never even considered tiling the ceiling again!

As a fellow DIYer, plastering and sanding seams and screw holes on the ceiling will be enough of a pain in the neck (literally), I certainly wouldn't tile. Aside from the difficulty, (and we have DIYed just about everything else 'cept re-roofing), I'd be terrifed of my less than perfectly laid tile falling down, hurting someone or something, especially the honking big 12 x 24's we are using on the walls!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 12:17PM
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Raehelen thanks so much for sharing your first hand experience with your shower and exhaust fan. Maybe I wont tile. But I may just put one fan in the bathroom, and it can be in the shower area. The odor is really the least of my concerns. So the fan in the shower, to take care of the moisture. When we need to turn on the fan for the odor, it can find its way to the fan, I'm sure :) Since I like to take hot showers this might be the best thing for moisture; get that fan right in there.

Does that sound like it makes sense? It sure helps to talk this stuff over with your guys on GW. Nobody around here can tolerate more than a minute of me talking about this. But on a positive note they always help me when I need the physical help.

Oh, and on this go around I'm paying someone else to do the dry wall stuff. I spent way to many hours working on that last time and want this bathroom done before a years up, lol.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 3:16PM
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We tiled the ceilings over the shower in our guest bathroom, and over the tubs in the other two bathrooms. While we knew we might not have any issues with painted ceilings (eg., mold, mildew, need to repaint because of peeling/cracking paint), we knew a tile ceiling would be even less likely to have issues.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 11:52AM
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"Oh, and on this go around I'm paying someone else to do the dry wall stuff. " Simpatico! When I DIY-built my own house years ago, the two things I subbed out were the pouring of the foundation and the drywall work. There are some things that can ruin a spirit, and for me, drywall ruins mine. 8 (

1a) Tiling the ceiling first is fine. In some ways it's easier, as you don't need to fret over thinset or grout drippings hitting the wall tile, because there is no wall tile.

1b) The vent directly over the shower door threshold can work. But sometimes that location can look awkward. It's neither in nor out. Having it there could be a design/aesthetic issue if you do tile the shower ceiling. The vent will probably be half on the tiled shower ceiling and half on the bathroom's drywalled ceiling. That might not bother you, but it would me.

2) If I was building your house, I'd want a vent in the shower and a vent in front of the dryer. With the transom open above the shower door, I simply prefer to keep moisture generated within the shower in the shower space instead of encouraging it out into the bathroom. But again, that's my preference.

For overall ventilation, you could use a single remote fan fed by two vent grills. The grill in the shower space would be primary, the one outside in the bathroom space your secondary/general vent for the space plus laundry.

There is no single correct way to vent the space. You know your space, and your sense of the space plus your ventilation desires as well as how many controls/switches you want will drive you toward a sensible solution.

3) "It depends". Your shower is not fully enclosed, it is open to the bathroom. If you want two fans controlled by two separate switches, you could indeed install two same-sized fans. The shower fan goes on when you are showering and also provides general ventilation for the rest of the space. The bathroom fan goes on when you are doing laundry or when you want general ventilation.

Do understand that I generally encourage fans to be linked to timed light switches. Turn the light on, the fan goes on. Turn the light off, the fan runs for a specified amount of time then automatically turns off. When fans and lights are independently controlled, the fan seldom gets turned on, or it never gets turned off.

An issue there can be a well-lit bathroom. A user may not turn the bathroom or shower light on, so the fan may not get turned on. And that can lead to automation...

4) Automation? Humidity switches sound great in theory. But they can be a bit temperamental. It might turn on at 2am. Or not. It might seemingly run forever, even on a dry winter day.

If you're looking for independent automation like that, then sometimes a motion sensor can be better. Walk in the bathroom, the motion sensor turns the bathroom fan on. Step into the shower, the shower sensor turns the shower fan on. The shower sensor can be aimed to the back of the shower so it doesn't sense movement in the bathroom space itself.

Do understand that the solution can depend on how much control you want. A single fan? Two fans? Will more switches confuse a user? Automation?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 1:24PM
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Mongoct, as I look through your fan info I like the idea of a fan over the laundry area and one over the shower. How I switch these - I will think about. As far as the automatic humidity control, I don't need that. I always remember to turn the fan on, but a timer has been very helpful, otherwise the fan stays on for hours :)

At this time I am thinking NOT to tile the ceiling. The fixtures that will go in the shower might be a problem down the road and replacements might not fit. So with an untiled ceiling repairs can be made to fit new fixtures as needed.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 6:49PM
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