August 19/26, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 5
By Arthur Mintie
Chip and Joanna Gaines from the syndicated HGTV series “Fixer Upper” may be responsible for most of the world’s recent obsession with shiplap. While not everyone is building a home where shiplap can be found hiding beneath the surface, style-minded homeowners can create a similar look by installing flooring on walls.
In fact, many homeowners today are approaching flooring from a new angle—using it to create accent walls and artistic focal points that reflect their unique style and bring distinctive character.
While installing flooring on walls is not much different than laying flooring materials in the traditional sense, it does take proper knowledge to ensure the results will hold up. Following are some considerations:
Selection of materials. As a general rule, any type of hardwood plank can be glued directly onto drywall. However, luxury vinyl tile or laminates must not be installed directly over wallpaper or existing paneling, as this will result in installation failure. For best results, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
Tiles that would normally be used on floors can also be turned up the wall to continue an aesthetic theme or create a different type of look or feel. As far as the weight of a tile used on interior vertical surfaces, applicable building codes typically have jurisdiction.
Surface prep. Installation considerations when selecting adhesives and mortars are dependent on the type and size of the surface material chosen. If using gauged porcelain tile panels as the finish, it is important for installers to prepare the substrate to a surface tolerance plane of 1⁄8 inch in 10 feet and to clean out any leftover adhesive mortar in the joints to ensure enough grout fills the grout joint. An even adhesive bond coat is also required to achieve proper coverage and eliminate voids under the tile while minimizing slumping of the tile.
Lay out. Installers should begin by marking the center points of all four walls and then snap chalk lines between the center points of the opposite walls in a pattern that will intersect in the center of the room. When tiling walls, installers need to find the center point of the wall and then use a level to draw a line indicating this point and then ensure the cut tiles in the corners are ideally no less than a half tile. Using trim pieces for outside corners is typically the better aesthetic option to trim out a project. If they are not available, on-site mitering, the creation of bullnose trim pieces or using trim strips might be in play.
Secure panels safely. Laminate should be adhered to the wall starting at the bottom of the wall using silicone applied in an S-shaped pattern. Once pressed down, the installer must drive a brad nail through the extended groove at each wall stud. Next, drywall screws should be placed at each wall stud at the bottom edge of the first row of planks. For all following rows, a brad nail should continue to be used for durability.
For other finishes that cannot be nailed—such as tile—a high-performance adhesive with outstanding non-sag properties is required to ensure the materials stay adhered for the life of the installation.
Arthur Mintie is senior director of technical services at Laticrete International. He provides technical assistance to specifiers and designers, and he is actively involved in global education and training for tile and construction industry materials and methods.