Tiling onto a brick wall without using cement backer board?

Old 11-13-14, 09:30 PM
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Question Tiling onto a brick wall without using cement backer board?


I would like to replace the ceramic tiles in one of our bathrooms. I have started to take the old tiles down and discovered that the previous tiles were not tiled onto a cement backer board.

A lot of the researching on internet has shown that ceramic tiles are usually applied onto a cement backer board in a bathroom. Is my situation a little bit strange?

I have attached two pictures below which show the current tiling situation in my bathroom:

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Name:  tile2.jpg
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As can be seen - the wall is built using bricks. The previous tiler applied a layer of mortar (I think), smoothed it out and then tiled on to that. The previous tiler also didn't do the whole wall as a low bathroom ceiling was installed (I don't know if this was done to save money on the tiling or for another reason).

If I want to prepare the wall for new tiles, what should I do? After I have finished removing the old tiles should I scrape off all of the thinset, apply a new layer of mortar (making sure that it is straight by using a spirit level) and then tile on top of this surface? Or, should I install some backerboard on top of the brick surface / existing mortar and then tile on top of the backerboard?

When we bought this house the previous owner told us that this bathroom leaks into the bathroom below. Could this be caused by the lack of backerboard between the brick walls and the ceramic tiles?

Any help that you could provide would be greatly appreciated.


Old 11-14-14, 01:32 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2007
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Can not answer you question on the leaking, not enough information. Take a wider photo that shows the whole bathroom not just a close up of the tile. Could be the drain, the pan the supply, don't know from looking at a couple of bricks on the wall.

Chip of your tiles and get to a semi smooth surface which would be the mortar bed under the tile. You can then use thinset to skim coat similar to application of drywall joint compound and let set. Then you are good to tile on top of that surface. Use a long straight edge to verify your smoothness on the wall prior to your tile.

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