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MitchK 05-11-2011 03:21 PM

Repair or Tile Over Plywood "Insert" in Drywall
Hello everyone, first post here. My wife and I are in the middle of a full kitchen remodel. We've involved some contractor help from the beginning. :thumbup::furious:.

Long story short, the wall behind the stovetop has a big (about 20"x15") drywall cutout, replaced by plywood. This was to create a stable surface for mounting the ducted stovetop vent system. Long story, different versions depending on who you ask.

The key thing is the plywood is not flush with the drywall surface. It (the plywood) is recessed about 1/8". It also has small jagged gaps (approx 1/4" - 3/4") between the plywood and drywall.

Two questions:

1. If we use a thinset mortar, can we tile over the cutout area without worrying about repairing and leveling the wall first?

2. Alternatively, if I can convince my wife that she doesn't really want tiles going all the way to the ceiling, can the wall be easily repaired with successive thin layers of joint compound?

Thanks much for any insight!


chrisBC 05-12-2011 02:59 AM

a pic would be helpfull.

i've never seen plywood exposed in a kitchen wall before, but hey you see/do new things everyday.

MitchK 05-12-2011 09:23 AM

Here's a pic
1 Attachment(s)
I've attached a photo of the wall in question.

My wife tells me the contractors argued over this, with the pro-plywood faction winning by defiance. It's intended as a mounting platform for the screws that secure the hood. It'll certainly be solid but it's an unexpected repair PITA.

It's hard to tell from the pic but the plywood isn't quite thick enough (by about 1/8") to be flush with the wall.

We're definitely doing subway tile up to the ceiling. Is it necessary to level the wall with joint compound beforehand? I'm inclined to do the extra work in order to avoid a tiling headache.


chrisBC 05-12-2011 12:43 PM

Thanks for the pic

To me, if that plywood is not going to be completely hidden, then it is done backwards. Any backing can be secured beneath the drywall, i've never seen anything done like that before.

I think what they were trying to do is provide sufficient backing for the fixture. Personally I would have put in blocking between the studs, i.e. a 2x4 on the flat flush with the wall surface, then drywalled over this so your finish can look nice. I think this would be the easiest option, then you can tape and mud. Keeping in mind that the surface isn't flush, and there are large gaps between the plywood and the drywall, I personally wouldn't attempt to finish over the plywood. You can usually tell where you need your blocking by looking at the installation instructions with the unit.

That's what I would do anyways.

MitchK 05-12-2011 01:15 PM

Thanks Chris. The whole wall will be covered with backsplash tile.

Can the plywood be mudded over to make it flush first (before tiling)?

Or if 2x4 backers are preferred (and that's how I actually want to do it), is it feasible to retrofit them with the wall only partially exposed?

By the way, the contractors originally did have 2x4 backing. Long story, but it was located incorrectly, hence their "improvisation". Don't know why they didn't just add more backing.


chrisBC 05-12-2011 01:23 PM

Again, I wouldn't bother with the plywood. I'm not sure how it could be mudded, personally I wouldn't try it, especially with those gaps, i've never heard of plywood being taped before, I just wouldn't mess with it.

If you are going to mudd it, I think it would be much easier to simply remove the plywood (1 minute) check that your blocking is where you want it, then cut and screw a drywall piece in there (10 minutes work) now you don't have to worry about trying to mudd over plywood with big gaps that isn't flush and isnt' really meant to be mudded anyways.

The plywood serves no purpose, IMO, if you have adequate framing/blocking to fasten too, it will just create more work and possibly compromise your finish.

If I was working on your place or my own place, and I had that plywood there, the first thing I would do is get rid of it, I would not try and make that work, just seems mickey mouse to me.

Less than a half hours labour and you can have drywall there, sitting flush ready to be taped and mudded for a nice finish. The backing will sit behind the drywall, just fasten through the drywall, i'm sure this is how the unit is meant to be fastened, so the fasteners should be the right length to accomodate.

I wouldn't bother mudding over that then tiling, i'd just create a proper wall surface that I know will last and bond properly, then tile.

again, just the way i'd do it.

MitchK 05-12-2011 01:45 PM

You've convinced me. I now wonder whether the reason they didn't relocate the 2x4 backing was because they didn't have 2x4 stock handy and wanted to save time. I hate corner cutting on something something intended to last for a long time.

In reviewing the photo I realized the plywood extends from stud to stud, so there shouldn't be any access issues with screwing in the 2x4 backers.

Thanks Chris! I'll post some progress and "after" photos when it's done in a few days.


chrisBC 05-12-2011 01:46 PM

glad to help, good luck with your kitchen project.

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