Ceiling Tiles for Interest and Protection

When tiling a bathroom or shower, the ceiling is often overlooked. Using ceiling tile can protect the area from moisture while enhancing the bathroom design.

If the bathroom or shower ceiling is low or ventilation is not adequate, it’s important to tile the ceiling to prevent damage from steam, mold, and mildew. Utilizing ceiling tile can also enhance and add interest to a kitchen or bathroom design.

When Should Ceiling Tile be Used?

According to many building codes and guidelines, the tile must extend a minimum of 3 to 6” above the showerhead. If the shower ceiling comes within 6” of the showerhead, the tile must continue across the ceiling. Any shower or bathroom ceiling that is low, or less than 8’ in height, should also be tiled to protect it from steam and water damage.

Bathrooms whose only ventilation may be a window or a vent placed far from the shower will also benefit from ceiling tiles. This will go a long way to helping to impede mold and mildew in the space.

Related: Best Dehumidifiers for Bathroom

Ceiling tile can also be used to help complete a design. An antique-style kitchen with a dropped ceiling or soffit, for example, would work well with tin ceiling tiles to accent the space. A Zen-style bathroom that uses river rocks in the shower may benefit from having the ceiling tiled in the same stones, with the rocks then coming down one wall of the shower and covering the shower floor. This can give a waterfall appearance, particularly if the showerhead is mounted from the ceiling.

Using Decorative Tile on the Ceiling

One way to bring interest to space is to use decorative tile on the ceiling. In particular, shower ceilings do not require a great deal of square footage, so using the area as a platform for exciting tile and designs can be done without a great deal of added expense.

Try using material being used as a border in a direct field of tile to cover the entire ceiling. Or, use the same material on the shower floor repeated on the ceiling. This works incredibly well for glass tile, as it gives two large pops of color to the area.

A decorative, repeating pattern can add a great deal of brightness, interest, and color to either a kitchen or a bathroom when used over the entire ceiling. Look for French country or Italian hand-painted tiles, or modern spaces, try using glass tiles in various colors.

What Tiles Can be Used on a Ceiling?

Any tile at all, whether designated for floor or wall, can be used on a ceiling. Be sure that if the tile is being used on a shower ceiling, the sealing and maintenance of crackled ceramic tiles or natural stone are considered. These porous materials may absorb steam, making them prone to many of the same problems that plaster ceilings have.

Installing Ceiling Tiles

New thinsets and mastics make installing ceiling tile easier than ever before. Most tile adhesives can hold up to a 16” tile securely to the ceiling with no bracing. Begin by spreading an adequate amount of adhesive over the ceiling, being sure to leave large enough trowel grooves to help the tile adhere. Be sure to back butter glass tiles, and use a white thin-set for glass or stone. Press and hold the tile in place on the ceiling for a short period to ensure the grip. Allow to set up and grout as usual.

Even if tiling a shower ceiling is a continuation of the shower wall tile, try mixing up the design by laying the tile in a different pattern—lay subway tile in a herringbone pattern on the ceiling and a running bond the walls. Square tiles can be set on the diagonal on the ceiling and straight on the walls to enhance the effect. Take the ceiling into consideration when designing a kitchen or bathroom today, and begin enhancing the space.


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