Are most of the tiles on your shower wall and floor cracked, dented, or leaking water?
Well, whether you want to replace the damaged tiles or you’re looking to take your bathroom through an entire remodeling process, welcome to this guide on how to tile a shower floor and wall.
While getting a professional to do the job might be the most typical thing to do, you’ll find fulfillment and save money if you do it yourself. Not to mention that tiling a shower wall and floor isn't rocket science. Almost everyone can do it.
Tools You’ll Need to Tile Your Shower Wall and Floor
You definitely can’t tile a shower wall and floor with just your hands, so to ensure that you get the job done in the most professional way possible, here is a detailed list showing the tools you’ll need.
- Wet Tile Saw: The most challenging part of installing wall and floor tiles is getting the tiles to the size you need. Thankfully, a Wet Saw tile will help you cut those tiles to the perfect size you need.
- Mortar Mixer: While you can buy Grout and Thinset already mixed, it is cheaper to buy the powdered form and mix it with a Mortar mixer. Mortar mixers can always be used and re-used whenever you need to mix Grout in the future.
- Rubber Grout Float: The grout float will help spread the Grout in the spaces between the tiles. This is very important for preventing moisture from getting between the tiles and causing them to fall off.
- Grout Sponge: While applying the Grout, some of it might spill out to the tiles. A regular float won't be enough to remove this excess Grout, so it would be best if you had a grout sponge.Grout sponges are dense absorbent sponges used for removing excess plaster from the tile.
- Grout Bag: Using a grout bag to apply your Grout makes it not just easier but also neater.
- Bubble Level: While tiling your shower walls, you’ll need a bubble level (spirit level) to make sure that you don’t veer off an angle while you’re applying your tiles.
Other essentials you’ll need when tiling a shower wall and floor include;
- Notched trowel
- Tape measure
- Chalk snap line
- Eye and hearing protection
- Utility knife
- Hole saw
- Pry bar
- The Shower and Floor tiles
- Tile Spacers
- Grout mix
- Waterproof tile membrane
- Concrete Backer Boards
- Floor Protection
What Should You Tile First?
One common question often raised by people who want to tile their shower is to tile their shower walls or floor first.
The truth is there are pros and cons of tiling either the wall or floor first. However, we recommend tiling your shower wall first because it is more complex. Also, doing it first will help you avoid some terrible mistakes like damage to an already tiled floor.
Steps On How to Tile Your Shower Wall
Here are the step-by-step procedures on how you can tile your shower wall like a pro.
Step 1: Plan the Tile Layout
The first thing you should do is determine the shape, type, style, and pattern of tile you'll use for your shower wall. We recommend using brickwork, grid, or diagonal patterns.
While planning the horizontal layout, you should measure it and ensure that there are no cut tiles at the sides of the wall. Then, confirm by checking that those smaller cut tiles are at the bottom of your shower wall for the vertical layout.
Step 2: Mark and Measure the Tile Area
Using your tape rule, measure the width and height of the entire area of the wall; this will help you determine the size of the tile you'll use. Always try to add about 10% to this area, so you have a little extra space.
Now, mark the horizontal and vertical centers, and ensure you mark each layer using your bubble level. Finally, ensure the entire tile layout is marked.
Step 3: Protect the Floor
Whether the floor is already tiled or not, always protect your floors while tiling your shower walls. A plywood board or cardboard will suffice.
Step 4: Remove Old Shower Tile
Before installing the new tile on your shower wall, remove any remnant tile from the wall. This will give your shower wall a new base for you to work on.
Step 5: Install a Waterproof Board
Once the old tiles are gone, use drill and screws to install the backer board before placing the new tiles. Then, place a waterproof membrane over it to make sure your backer board is waterproof.
Step 6: Mix the Thinset
The next thing to do is use your mortar mixer to mix your Thinset; your Thinset should be thick enough to not slide down the wall. Try to attain a peanut butter level of thickness.
Step 7: Place the Tiles on The Wall
Now, it’s time to begin placing the tiles on the wall.
Because there will be smaller tiles at the bottom, we recommend starting from the second row from the bottom.
Apply the Thinset using a notched trowel to the already marked area, and then place your tiles on it. Press it down to make sure it's firm, and use spacers to ensure the space between your tiles is the same.
Use your tile saws and nippers to cut and shape the smaller tiles at the bottom before placing them.
Also, remember to use the Bubble level to ensure that the tiles are on the same level.
Step 8: Mix and Use the Grout
Use the mortar mixer to mix the grout and apply it to every space between your tiles using your grout bag.
Step 9: Wipe Off Excess Grout
The last step is to use the grout sponge to clean away all the excess grout. Again, make sure you clean the grout at an angle to avoid cleaning the Grout between the tiles.
Steps On How to Tile Your Shower Floor
You've learned how to tile your shower wall successfully; now, let's proceed to show you how you can tile a shower floor.
Step 1: Get your Subfloor Ready
Before tiling your shower floor, the first thing you must do is to ensure that you have a perfect subfloor. This will protect your tiles from getting damaged quickly. What you want in a subfloor is a flat surface with a slight deflection as possible.
The Tile Council of America offered a formula L/360. This formula will help us determine the floor's deflection, where L is the total span of floor joists.
Step 2: Plan the Tile Layout
You should follow the same pattern and plan used when applying it to the wall for the floor.
Step 3: Lay Your Tiles on The Ground
Because these floor tiles will be the same pattern as the wall tiles, try to make them a bit identical. For every tile you place on the wall, you should place an equivalent tile on the shower floor. Start from the center and place arrange them symmetrically outwards.
Step 4: Mix, Apply and Mix The Grout
Just like with the walls, you should mix and apply the Grout in the spaces between the tiles and clean them when you're done.
Common Errors to avoid while Tiling your Shower Wall and Floor
While tiling your shower walls and floors, there is a very high tendency to make mistakes. From experience, here are some of the most common errors you should avoid.
Error #1: Thinking That Tiles and Grout Are Enough to Make Your Shower Waterproof
While properly installing the shower tiles will give you a waterproof shower, water may still find its way through the shower walls over time. This is why you should install a waterproof laminated wall panel over your tiles.
Check out our guide on how you can easily install a waterproof shower panel and install them over tiles.
Error #2: Picking the wrong size of tiles
Tiles come in a wide range of sizes, and it can be pretty easy to be so focused on the right design that you end up picking the wrong size of tiles you need for your bathroom.
Error #3: Not Buying Enough Tiles
To save cost, you might be tempted to buy a lesser quantity of tiles than you originally intended. Please don't do it! Using an insufficient number of tiles will leave spaces in your shower arrangement.
This can make your shower walls vulnerable to water and your tiles more vulnerable to damage.
Error #4: Applying Your Grout Too Quickly
The moment you begin tiling, speeding up the process can be tempting, especially the grouting process; this is another error you should always avoid. Doing this will make your grout incapable of fully covering up the openings between your tiles.
Error #5: Rupturing the Waterproof Membrane
After placing the waterproof membrane on the cement board, you should ensure it is well protected from any rupture or rift.
Take care, and avoid using nails or screws to attach anything to the shower wall. This includes cement boards, curbs, and benches.
Tiling your shower walls and floor can be a gratifying activity. But, apart from the feeling of satisfaction, you also get to design your shower in your preferred style.
If you find the steps we’ve discussed still tricky, don't hesitate to call a professional.
Some of the benefits of tiling your shower wall and floor are that they are:
- Cheap to install and maintain
- Very durable
- Offer you a massive range of style options to use.
Don't forget to comment below if you have any questions.