Can You Tile Over Cinder Block? Yes (Do This!)


A cinder block wall definitely fulfills its purpose as a durable and sturdy form of structural support, but it’s not the nicest to look at.

Can you tile over cinder blocks to make the wall more of an interior design statement?

Tiling over cinder blocks isn’t just possible; it’s also beneficial because it improves the blocks’ insulation and water resistance capabilities. To tile over cinder blocks:

  • Address any existing damage.
  • Clean the surface.
  • Ensure the surface is completely even.
  • Apply Kerdi board, liquid membrane, direct mortar, or cement board.
  • Create a guide with a chalk line.
  • Install the tile.
  • Apply grout.

Read on for a step-by-step guide for tiling over a cinder block wall.

Can You Tile Straight Onto A Cinder Block Wall?

Yes, you can tile on top of a cinder block wall. This will not only improve the visual appeal of the cinder blocks, but it has other benefits as well. 

For instance, tile can improve the insulation and water resistance capabilities of a cinder block wall.

Something to note is that you should take the time to prep your cinder block wall before installing tile. Sufficient preparation will improve the final result and ensure the tile application will last.

How Do You Lay Tile On A Cinder Block?

The process of laying tile on cinder blocks is relatively simple, but it involves preparation for the best results.

1. Address Existing Damage

Examine the cinder blocks closely. Check for chips, fissures, and cracks. Use a cinder block filler to fill in any problem spots. It’s important to create a nice, smooth surface for the tile to adhere to.

2. Clean The Surface

After completing any necessary repairs, you’ll need to thoroughly clean the surface of the cinder blocks. Any dust, debris, or chunks of loose brick need to be scrubbed away so that the tile can adhere properly.

3. Ensure The Surface Is Even

The wall needs to be totally plumb for the tile to be installed. If it is, then you can move on to the next step. 

However, if the surface is uneven after addressing the existing damage and cleaning the cinder blocks, then you might want to fasten a metal lath to the wall using a scratch and brown coat of mortar. You can find this type of mortar premixed at your local hardware store.

4. Prepare For Tile

When it comes to preparation, you have several options.

Kerdi Board

You can use Kerdi board building panels to create a plumb and flat surface on top of the cinder blocks. You’ll just need to screw the Kerdi boards into the wall. A couple of benefits of this preparation technique are that it is thermally insulating and waterproof.

Liquid Membrane

Liquid membrane, a thick layer of watertight material, is another option when preparing cinder blocks for tile.

There are various types of liquid membrane available. Some of them are sprayed evenly over a surface, while others can be rolled out in sheets or painted on in thick coats. 

You can select the type of liquid membrane that is most convenient for you to apply. Liquid membrane is an especially nice choice for basement cinder block walls.

Direct Mortar

Direct mortar is a type of mortar with a peanut butter-like consistency. You can apply it to the cinder block wall using a trowel.

Cement Board

Cement board is another choice, and it’s frequently used as an underlayment material. You can attach it to the cinder blocks using screws and a power drill.

5. Create A Guide

Now that the wall is prepared for tile, the next step is to use a chalk line to mark the wall in the middle. This will create a guide for tile placement. You can create additional chalk lines if you’d like a more detailed guide to follow.

6. Install The Tile

Apply your adhesive with a notched trowel, beginning at the bottom of the cinder block wall.

Do not apply adhesive to the entire surface all at once. Instead, apply enough to attach just a few tiles. This way, the adhesive will remain moist enough for the tiles to stick to it.

Use cinder block spacers in between each tile so that the spacing stays even. You’ll also want to use tile spacers along the wall and floor boundaries.

Continue to make your way up the wall as you apply the tile.

7. Give The Adhesive Time To Dry

Once you’ve placed all of the tiles, wait at least 24 hours before continuing to the next step. Refer to the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions for specific details regarding dry time.

8. Apply Grout

At this point, the adhesive should be completely dry. Now, you can smooth grout in between each tile using a rubber grout float. Apply the grout in small sections and press it into the joints between tiles.

Then, use a float to remove excess grout, moving diagonally across the tiles. 

After allowing the grout a few minutes to harden, use a damp sponge to wipe any extra grout off the surface of the tiles. Move the sponge in a circular motion, and be careful not to remove grout from between the tiles.

Once the grout has fully hardened, you can use a damp rag to remove the haze from the tiles’ surface. Then, buff the tiles immediately using a dry cloth.

Conclusion

If you’ve ever wondered whether you can tile over a cinder block wall to make it more aesthetically pleasing, the answer is yes! Not only is it 100% possible to tile over cinder blocks, but adding tile improves the wall’s water resistance and insulation capabilities.

The process of tiling over a cinder block wall mainly consists of several steps of preparation. You’ll need to address any existing damage, thoroughly clean the surface of the cinder blocks, and ensure the surface is even.

Next, you’ll need to apply your choice of direct mortar, cement board, liquid membrane, or Kerdi board. Then, create a chalk line to serve as a guide for tile placement, install the tile, apply grout, and the process of tiling over your cinder block wall is complete!

Jessica Allen

Jessica is a freelance writer and editor who has years of experience writing about home improvement and interior design. When she’s not typing away in her office, you can find her doing yoga in her backyard or curling up with a good book.

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