Recessing tile into drywall? Tile experts?

tartanhabitJune 25, 2012

Hi all

I'm still having the conundrum with how to finish the tile behind our vanity (we were considering a no paint option in another post).

The issue is that the porcelain tile I want to use does not come in bullnose nor have a finished trim piece so the top view of the tile would look unfinished.

My contractor said that a job he has done was with recessing tile so that it sits just level, flush with the drywall if you get my drift. I think he mentioned applying a thin level of drywall that butts right up next to the tile to make this happen. So it's all flush.

Sounds interesting to me but I have, in my limited experience, never heard of such a thing. Anyone know of this technique? Is it sound? Since we like a modern look it appeals to me for this little area of space behind the vanity.

Any info appreciated. Thanks.

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The only thing that concerns me is how thin will the backing behind the tile be? Sheetrock or even cement board at 1/4" thickness will be way too flimsy. However, if he recesses and couple of cleats on the insides of the wall studs, and then uses 1/2" sheetrock, that would work.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 9:12PM
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DH recessed the split face tile behind (over) our vanity. It's not completely flush with the wall, but sticks out much less than it would have. I think he used thinner sheetrock or hardibacker where the tile was going, and regular thickness for the rest?

I can ask him when he comes home.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 10:53PM
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Thanks Bill. Hmm, I thought I did hear him mention 1/4 sheetrock - although I got the impression he was talking about doing that layer of sheetrock over another something else. Bill, I learned so much from you when I was on this site with bathroom/kitchen remodel years ago - lovely that you are still dispensing wisdom!

Cat mom, do you have pics on here somewhere? I frequented this site several years ago during another bathroom & kitchen remodel and if I remember rightly you have a stunning kitchen with vertical glass tiles ... Tell me if my memory is right. I don't recall if I've seen your bathroom.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:47PM
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Thank you re: our kitchen! We still love it so!

We do have pictures showing the hall bathroom backsplash, but I'm not sure if you can really see that the tile is recessed somewhat. Maybe. Take a look:

I think you can view the rest of the pics by clicking on one of the photos. You might be able to access the MB album/pics as well.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 1:02AM
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That's a very interesting seamless look, thanks Catmom, I like it! Funny, in that first photo I thought that the towel rail was also somehow recessed as I wasn't quite sure what I was looking at then I realized that was a reflection (duh!)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 7:04PM
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It sounds to me like he means that the 1/4" drywall would layer over the layer of drywall or substrate that is attached to the studs and the tile would be layered over its substrate, so that the 1/4" tile and the 1/4" extra layer of drywall would be flush.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 7:31PM
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Palimpsest, that makes sense, thank you for helping me wrap my head around this!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 11:57PM
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LOL tartanhabit! I think recessing the towel bar into that wall might be beyond DH's impressive DIY abilities!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 9:34AM
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I furred out the wall to match the tile surface. If you're talking a large wall, this probably woundn't be a good option.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 10:20PM
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Joseph Corlett, LLC

Install a piece of Schluter and be done with it:

2 Likes    Bookmark   February 18, 2015 at 1:16PM
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John Whipple - Why are you pulling up old threads?

1 Like    Bookmark   February 18, 2015 at 6:44PM
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What palimpsest wrote.

The entire vanity wall gets a standard covering of 1/2" drywall that is screwed to the studs. The 1/4" tile gets applied to the face of the drywall.

The remainder of the vanity wall that is not tiled gets a veneer of 1/4" drywall with the 1/4" drywall butting up to the 1/4" tile.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2015 at 5:56AM
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John Whipple - By Any Design ltd.

A few of the many pictures from the link above:

More info on this outside corner detail here: A nicer looking outside corner

What to learn more? Catch up on this discussion on

Tile to Wall Transitions: A seamless approach

1 Like    Bookmark   February 19, 2015 at 7:55AM
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John Whipple - By Any Design ltd.

I took this picture two days back. It shows me cladding the old drywall with a new sheet of 1/2". I will later use a shadow reveal in galvanized metal to create my capillary break and transition point from tile to drywall.

I'll be adding in the shadow reveal in the next couple of days. I got a 1/2" version like this.

Something like this but in metal not plastic.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2015 at 8:05AM
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I've seen it before , especially in Europe.

Last time I saw here was in a million dollar place in the late 70's and it's always done with plaster, not Sheetrock !

1 Like    Bookmark   February 19, 2015 at 4:52PM
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John Whipple - By Any Design ltd.

Xedos - these details are really key for anyone not wanting the tile edging to be the showcase in the shower or bathroom renovation. I think tile men have grown used to them as a crutch and now that people are learning that with more planning and better design they can be eliminated.

When tile profile edging needs to be used I much prefer to look and feel of Butech's Pro Parts. Chrome plated brass!

I'm using some now to frame a frameless Kerdi Line Drain installation. Part of a steam shower build here in West Vancouver. In the picture below you can see the two strips installed on top of the Kerdi Line grate. The kerdi was removed from the top with ease and the double sided glue tape cleaned off. Then the green material was installed - that is Laticrete's Hydro Ban Sheet membrane.

Look at the shine on the sides! Butech Pro Part

    Bookmark   February 20, 2015 at 6:29AM
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John Whipple - By Any Design ltd.

The first time we tried this look I used scrap 5/8" plywood to fur the wall studs out. The process looked like this.

You can see the drop in the floor to the right. This was a barrier free shower. Once the tile was set then I used Paper backed L-bead to seem the tile to the drywall.

Since this job I have refined the technique and prefer now to set the beads first. The shadow reveal is easier to waterproof.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2015 at 6:39AM
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Creative Ceramic & Marble/ Bill Vincent

Spamming at its finest.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2015 at 1:13PM
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Don't you mean better planning Bill ?

A BETTER design would be to eliminate the need for a transition at all .

Then it doesn't really matter what company has the best , or prettiest or cheapest , doodad . All that has to be done is get the tile setter and his crutch to hobble onto the jobsite. And, no one has to figure out how to reinvent the wheel in the field.

2 Likes    Bookmark   February 21, 2015 at 4:29AM
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John Whipple - By Any Design ltd.

In these few pictures you can see some Wondeboard Lite installed and a little Ardex 8+9 waterproofing. The white shiny thing is the tile and shows the room left behind for thin-set.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2015 at 6:32AM
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