After living in our house for almost three years, we finally started the kitchen renovation we’ve been dreaming about since we moved in. Maybe it isn’t our dream layout, but it’s still going to be WAY better than what we have. Step one was to frame a wall over ceramic tile. If we only knew how hard that would end up being.
After lots of research, it seems that the general consensus is that you can definitely just build a wall over existing tile. Or hardwoods. Basically anything but carpet (why would you ever do that?!?!). If you follow me over on Instagram stories, you got the behind the scenes look at buying all of our materials, getting them home in the minivan, and starting demo! We started with removing the drywall from the existing wall.
It actually came off pretty easily. I used a hammer to essentially pulverize a hole in the middle, and then once I could get the back of my hammer underneath the metal corner pieces, pieces started coming off in large chunks. I’m not looking forward to matching that texture, but that’s a post for another day.
Soon, we had all the corner pieces off, and we were down to just the drywall. We pried it off, and we were down to bare wood. Next, it was time to attach our sole plate to the floor. We measure where our studs would go, and where we would drill through into the concrete (living in Texas often means no basements, since most houses are on a concrete slab).
If I had only known how much work still lied ahead. We used a masonry bit to drill down through the ceramic and into the concrete. Ceramic tile is way harder than concrete, so it took a little while to get through. Then we hit the concrete. We would get to a certain depth, and then the bit would just spin. We were using a lightweight impact
An hour later, armed with the correct drill bits, we got to work again. Still very little progress. After an hour or two of trying, we decided to try and just drill our Tapcon screws in. I knew we wouldn’t hit the full depth we needed, but I wanted to see if it would grab at all. I noticed that the bottom of the screw was getting chewed up like crazy, and figure it was the ceramic tile. I also decided I wanted to try a heavy duty hammer drill to help us push through the concrete faster. Off to Home Depot for trip #3!
Another hour later, with a bunch of new drill bits, a new beefy hammer drill, and a frustration-driven determination to succeed, we got to work again. Still VERY little progress. We couldn’t even get one screw in deep enough for it to hold – the head would strip out before it got anywhere close. Off to Lowe’s for trip #4!
My dad suggested we use a lead anchor, lag bolt, and washer. Unfortunately, they don’t sell lead anchors anymore, so that idea wouldn’t work. The employee in the hardware department talked through it with me, and he suggested to try drilling out all of the ceramic tile surrounding the hole for the screw so it wouldn’t have contact with it.
Another hour later, we tried the hardware guy’s idea. No progress. I researched a bit more, but couldn’t find an answer on why we were having SO much trouble getting through the concrete. Then I stumbled on an article about framing a wall over radiant heating. The tubes in the heating would get punctured if you drilled into the concrete floor, so the accepted way is to use construction adhesive.
I even asked my lovely friends over at Place St. Russell on Instagram what they thought. They suggested trying a bigger drill at
The next morning, we ran off for trip #5 to make some returns to both Lowe’s and Home Depot, and pick up some construction adhesive. We got home, I threw the tube in my caulk
We just set some heavy objects on top (an old hamper pull of books and a box full of books ready for our upcoming garage sale) and waited while we worked on framing out the rest of the wall. So if you’re thinking about framing a wall over ceramic tile, consider construction adhesive, unless you’re lucky enough to own a super heavy duty hammer drill or patient enough to drill 28.5 hours (that’s how long it would have taken us if we had just kept going)! After an hour or two for lunch, naptime, and some cutting, the sole plate was feeling pretty solid.
We moved onto getting our top plate and both of the exterior studs in place, after which we were feeling much better about our little renovation. The process up until we glued that sole plate down had been pretty frustrating, so we were thrilled to finally see some change.
Framing the wall is pretty easy – you basically install a board the length of the wall on the floor and ceiling, and then vertical ones on each end. Screw into place at a diagonal to hold them, then repeat for the rest of the studs. We chose to anchor the sole plate to the existing wall for added
And just like that, we had this beauty. We decided to evenly space our studs at 12.5″ inches instead of the standard 16″ since we want to be able to tie into them as much as possible for the floating shelves we’re planning. There would have been three studs there anyway, so it’s not any more wood than normal.
After a very long two days, we ended Sunday night with some pizza, popcorn, and some Austin East Ciders. Framing a wall over ceramic tile was definitely not easy, but we got it done. Cheers to renovation success, even if the path is a little more winding than we imagined!
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