How to Tile a Shower
Are you in the market to tile a shower yourself, but not sure where to start? Have you watched video tutorials, read articles, and examined diagrams, but are still uncertain of the best methods and techniques? Do you feel intimidated by creating a tile shower that you desire, unsure if you have what it takes to become an experienced DIYer?
If these questions sound familiar, then you've come to the right place. With some research, tools, and materials it is possible to take on the task of tile installation with confidence. Here we will explore all aspects of tiling a shower - from preparation and planning to select materials for optimal results - that will leave you well on your way to becoming an expert in no time.
- Working Time - 3 to 4 days
- Overall Time - roughly 1 week
- Estimated Cost - $500-$1000
- Skill Level Recommended - intermediate to advanced
Shower Wall Tile or Shower Floor Tile
When it comes to tiling your shower, it's important to understand the difference between floor tile and wall tile. First, know where you will be tiling, and then choose your tile.
If you are tiling the shower floor then get a tile that is slip-resistant. You do not want to be slipping and falling as you are scrubbing so use a tile with a substantial amount of grout lines for traction. This could either be mosaic tiles or any porcelain tile. Using larger tiles that are textured and have a grip to keep you on your feet are great options as well. The main focus for the shower floor tile is making sure it is slip-resistant.
If you are tiling the shower wall, there is more freedom in choosing what tile you want since you do not have to worry about slipping and falling.
Step One: Preparation
The first step in tiling a shower is the preparation work. Before beginning any tile installation, it is important to make sure you have a layout you want to follow and that the shower wall and floor are prepared for tile. Inadequately preparing the surface could lead to poor adhesion and water damage, which can be costly and time-consuming to repair down the line.
Planning Your Tile Layout
It is important to plan out what your shower is going to look like. Knowing what shower tile you will be using, the shape, and the tile pattern will help you through your tiling process and keep everything in order.
Protecting your bathroom as you are remodeling will save you clean-up time and any unnecessary damage to the rest of your bathroom. You can protect your bathroom by taping cardboard, any type of tarp, or plastic to the entire floor.
Step Two: Removal and Replace
Remove any Old Tile
Before starting, make sure you have all of the necessary tools on hand such as a hammer and chisel, heavy-duty gloves, eye protection, a dust mask or respirator, and tiling accessories like spacers and wedges.
To begin the process of removing old tiles, going from top to bottom start by tapping lightly with your hammer along each edge of the wall tiles until they chip away. As you work, use your wedges or chisel where needed to break up larger pieces into manageable chunks.
Remove Shower Items
Remove the shower head from the shower wall to make your shower tiling project easier. If you have glass doors or any type of door remove those as well.
Replacing Old or Deteriorated Material
As you remove the old tile from the shower walls, you may find a damaged structure underneath. Whether that looks like mold or deterioration in the wood, you will have to replace these items.
It begins with removing the old shower structure, which may require some demolition work depending on the age and condition of the unit.
Once the old structure has been removed, it is important to properly measure and install a new support system for the tiles prior to adding any caulking or grout around them.
Cement boards, also known as cement backer board, are made up of Portland cement, aggregates, and glass mesh that is combined together and then formed into large sheets that can be cut down to size. Knowing when your cement board needs to be replaced is critical for the longevity of the tile installation.
Generally, a cement board should be replaced if there is any visible damage – including cracking or moisture saturation – or if the cement board has been installed for more than 10 years.
Step Three: Prepare Your Shower Space Before Tiling
At this stage, after you have removed the bad tile and any bad wood and replaced it with good wood to have a good structure, you are ready to start preparing for the shower wall tiles or shower floor tiles.
Now is the time to double-check measurements and make sure everything is ready before installing your tile. Organize your materials and tools to be prepared for when the time comes to put everything together. If you want to ensure the safety of the materials underneath add a thin layer of the waterproofing membrane around all the seams. You can do this by using a paint roller.
The first step in preparing your shower for tile is putting down a shower pan liner. A shower pan liner is a waterproof barrier that is placed in the shower or tub stall before the tile is laid. It serves two main functions: to provide an effective moisture barrier and to protect the flooring beneath from leaks and water damage. The shower pan liner is made from highly-durable plastic material, making it resistant to tearing during installation. It should be measured accurately and installed correctly for maximum protection of your shower stall and subflooring.
How to Install a Shower Pan Liner
Installing a shower pan liner is a relatively straightforward process. First, check the shower pan to ensure that it is properly sealed and free of debris. You'll then need to measure and cut the shower liner so that it will fit in your shower pan.
Make sure the shower liner extends up the wall, at least 6 inches or more above the shower pan. Once you have the proper dimensions, secure one end with an adhesive or sealant and move on to the other end of the shower liner. You may have to adjust or trim this side of the shower liner as well before securing it with an adhesive or sealant. Use a stapler gun to hold everything in place by stapling the shower pan liner into the wooden beams. Test the shower pan liner by pouring water into the shower base and checking for leaks.
Before installing a shower pan, it's important to ensure that the shower area and walls are properly waterproofed. Plumbing work should also be installed and inspected prior to the shower pan installation, including shower valves and fixtures. Make sure the shower pan liner is installed properly and there are no leaks.
Now, to install the shower pan, start by attaching a pre-formed shower base to the floor with mortar on top of the shower pan liner. If a curb is required for shower pans without integral curbs, use bricks and mortar or tile to create one after leveling the shower base. Finally, ensure shower thresholds are level while attaching them securely with sealant.
Installing a Cement Board
Firstly, make sure that your cement board is the correct size for the area you are tiling; measure twice to ensure accuracy. When applying cement board to walls, you must first ensure that the wall surface is completely flat and free from debris. Next, use galvanized screws to fasten the cement board to the wall every 8 inches and seal any gaps with the cement board joint compound.
Once you have set the cement boards in place, it is ready to be taped. Use cement board backer tape and tape the seams between the cement boards and the shower walls as well as in between the cement boards. This will prepare the boards for the next step.
Step Four: Tile the Shower
Congratulations, all the preparation work has been completed and you can now lay tile. Now before you can do any of the tile work, you must add a thinset mortar to the entire wall so the tile can stick to the shower wall.
Before you move on make sure you check that your subfloor is suitable for tiling: if it's uneven or has too much moisture, you'll need to level it or address the moisture issue before laying any tiles.
Add Thin-set Mortar
First, begin by mixing the thin-set mortar according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Next, spread the thin-set mortar over both surfaces with a notched trowel in an even layer to make sure there are no crevices or air pockets remaining. Do this by going up the wall in a diagonal motion with the notched trowel to avoid as much spillage as possible.
Place Your Tile
At this point, you should know what tile you will be using. Whether you chose a glass tile, ceramic tile, small mosaic tiles, or any other type of tile according to where you will be tiling.
Creating a layout of how you want your tile to look goes a long way. This will provide you with knowledge of your tile. If you have to cut tile, you will know what tile to cut.
Lay the tile pieces one by one onto this base and press down firmly, but not too hard, spacing each piece accurately in order to keep proportionality across your entire design. For extra stability, use spacers between each piece.
First, complete the main section of your shower, then complete the edge, and finally finish at the shower drain.
Step Five: Finish the Job
Finish the job by grouting the tile that you have applied to the shower wall or shower floor.
Preparing and mixing grout according to directions is the first step, after which the tile needs to be wiped clean. Now the grout can be applied with a grout float and pressed into the joints between each tile. Once this step is complete, excess needs to be immediately wiped away with a damp cloth or sponge. Finally, allow it some time to dry before admiring your finished work!
Now you figured out how to tile a shower and we are so proud of you. Following these steps will help you create your dream tile shower. If after reading through these instructions you still feel intimidated by this process, then we suggest hiring a professional. Give us a call and we will be sure to help you in any way!