Inspiration and DIY How to Install Shower Tiles Like a Pro

Keystones™ Moonlight 1 x 2 brick-joint mosaic and Navy 1 x 1 mosaic on the wall

Photo features Keystones™ Moonlight 1 x 2 brick-joint mosaic and Navy 1 x 1 mosaic on the wall

 
 

HOW TO INSTALL SHOWER TILES LIKE A PRO

Tiling a shower is one of those home improvement projects that can help give your home that customized look and makes you feel pampered. Taking the project on by yourself can seem daunting at first but tiling a shower is fundamentally similar to tiling a floor.

STEP 1: PREPARATION
Once you've selected the perfect tile for your project, you'll first want to make sure that your shower wall is prepped properly.

Any old tile will need to be removed and a cement backer board will need to be placed as a foundation before you install your shower tiles.

Check to make sure that the cement backer board is sound after removing the old tile. If not, you'll need to remove the old and install a new backer board.

Apply a waterproof membrane to the backer board to ensure that water can’t seep through and cause damage. You can use a roller or brush and apply just as you would a coat of paint. Consult the directions on the product you've selected for specific application instructions.

Learn how to install tiles for your unique shower design

Learn how to install tiles for your unique shower design

Laying out tile before placing it is a key step in how to install shower tiles

Laying out tile before placing it is a key step in how to install shower tiles

Things don’t always come out even. Learning how to install tile includes making cuts

Things don’t always come out even. Learning how to install tile includes making cuts

STEP 2: LAYOUT
With your walls prepped, you're ready to start installing the new tile. Make sure you've measured properly and have enough tiles to cover your entire project. As with any tile project, you should always have 10% more material on hand to cover waste and any mistakes made along the way.

You should begin the second row up from the bottom of the shower. Why? Because it's not uncommon for the floor of the shower or top of the tub to not be square; this could lead to a crooked installation.

You also want to ensure that the top row contains a full vertical tile. Measure a flat board to the height of your project then lay out the tiles on the floor before you place them on the wall. You'll eliminate potential problems and be able to choose where you cut tiles to fit your design. Use spacers in your dry run to ensure the measurements are precise.

Once you've determined your vertical starting point, mark it by installing a level board to the cement backer that extends from the right bottom corner to the right top corner. This will provide a level base for your first row of tile and assist in holding it in place.

Like floor tile, you'll want to also make sure you have a good horizontal starting point. First you need to find the center of the wall and mark it accordingly. Next, lay out the tile on the floor using a board that's the same length as the wall where you’ll be installing. From the center point you will want to lay the tile along your base all the way to each end. You may need to cut the tiles when you get to the corners.

STEP 3: APPLYING THE THIN-SET MORTAR
Select a thin-set mortar suitable for your tile, and then use your drill and a mixing paddle to prepare it. Make sure to follow the manufacturer directions on the package. Adjust the mix until the consistency is that of creamy peanut butter. Only mix enough thin-set for 30 minutes of work.

Using the flat side of the tile trowel spread a quarter inch coat of thin-set in the area where you will lay the tile. Now, with the notched edge of the trowel, use a combing motion to work the thin-set so that there are standing ridges throughout. Be sure not to spread more thin-set than can be used in a fifteen minute time span as it may begin to set and thereby reduce the effectiveness of the bond.

 

STEP 4: CUTTING TILE
Since you've already laid out your tile you should know where the cuts will need to be made. Using a grease pencil, mark the cut lines on the tiles that need trimming. Make the necessary cut using your tile cutter or wet saw. If cutting is performed with a saw, always use a wet saw with continuous water bath to avoid generation and breathing of tile dust.

 

See Steps 5 - 7