Tiling A Shower Or Tub Surround


When tiling a shower or tub surround these are the areas of the bathroom that are prone to getting wet.  So it's crucial that the bathroom wall tile be installed to a Cement Backerboard tile underlayment. While the wall tiles for other areas of the bathroom can be installed right to the dry-wall.

Tiling Tips

* Bathroom tubs are often out of level, so it's a good idea to use  a batten board. You can install the batten board  along the level of where your second row of tiles will sit, And start installing your shower tile from your batten board up. Then return later to install the bottom row of tiles.

* Tile Mastic tile Adhesive will allow you to adjust your shower tile for up to fifteen minutes, But we'll be using  Thinset Mortar, So your tiles should not be moved after five minutes.

* If you're using self-spacing bathroom wall tiles, these tiles have spacer nubs built into them, so you simply butt the tiles up against each other. For regular shaped tiles you'll need to place a spacer at every corner.

* Don't worry if your tiles wind up a little off of your reference lines; the most important thing is that your tile corners are aligned with each other.

* Tiling a shower that reaches all  way down to the floor and tiling a tub surround work the same way, except with tub surrounds the tiles end above the tub and for a shower stall the shower pan on the floor.

* First, Locate your vertical and horizontal reference lines that you earlier made to the surface of your walls. You will be using them as a guide for your shower tile layout.

Step 1 To Tiling A Shower- Install Your Bathroom Shower Tile To The Back Wall

Use a 1/4 inch notched trowel to spread enough thinset to about  10 square feet of the wall.

Back butter each of your wall tiles with a thin layer of Thinset as you go. Start at the batten board laying a row of tiles and press each of your shower tiles firmly into the Thinset Mortar. Continue working your way up the wall.

Step 2 Of Tiling A Shower- Cut your End Tiles In Bunches

Your end tiles on the back wall will be covered by the end tiles of your side walls, So for the back wall, the end tiles can be as much as 1/4 inch short.

You should only need to set the guide on your snap-cutter or wet-saw one time and cut enough end tiles for a few rows at a time.

Finish installing all your bathroom wall tiles to the back wall above the Batten board including the end tiles . Then move on to installing your side wall tiles.

Step 3 To Tiling A Shower-Install your shower tile to your side walls

Start at the sidewall without the plumbing penetrations. Temporarily install your batten board until it's time to install your bottom row of tiles. 

Start at the outside edge of the shower or tub surround and press the wall tiles into the Thinset working towards the back wall. The cut tiles should be against the back wall.

You may or may not be able to set your snap-cutter or wet-saw once to cut a bunch of end tiles for this wall.

If your outside edge of tiles does not butt up against a wall, you may need to install bullnose tiles for finishing off the outside edge.

Repeat this same process for tiling your wall with the plumbing. But for now leave out the  tiles that need to be cut to fit the plumbing pipes.

Use blue tape to support the tiles you've installed above the open area where the plumbing is so they'll stay in place.

Step 4 To Tiling A Shower-Make your pipe cutouts

More often than not the pipes penetrations will cross over two or more tiles, So the tiles require notching with tile nippers to fit over it.

But if the pipe cutout need to be made in the middle of a tile, place the tile up against the pipe and measure and mark the tile with a pencil,  Bore the hole where needed using a drill equipped with a carbide-tipped hole saw

Most Ceramic tiles can be cut with a few options of cutting tools, such as a rod saw, a grinder, a wet saw or a nibbling tool. So you have the option to make your cutouts with whichever makes you most comfortable. Just make the cutouts at least 1/4 inch larger than your mark allowing you some wiggling room.

Don't worry so much about how the cuts look because the plumbing flanges will later cover up the gaps.

Step 5 Install your bottom row of tiles

Installing your bottom row of tiles depends on the type of tile adhesive you are using. If you're using a standard Thinset, wait a day before installing. If you're using a sag-free Thinset, that was mixed exactly with the directions on the bag, you can tile the last row now.

First back out the screws holding the batten board to the wall. Remove the batten and scrape away any dried thinset.

If you're able to use whole tiles for the bottom row, great! But for a tub surround, it's a good chance that your tub may be out of level, So you'll have to cut the bottom off of some the tiles.

Make sure to keep a 1/8 gap between your tiles and the tub or for a shower the shower pan. You can temporarily use shims or cardboard to maintain this gap.

You may not be able to spread Thinset to this area of the wall because of the limited space caused by the tiles above. If this is the case, generously back butter each tile and press them into place.

About Installing Your Edge Tiles

unless your tiling a shower or tub surround all the way up to the ceiling be sure to either surround the tops and outside edges of your bathroom wall tiles with bullnose tiles to create a neat, professional looking appearance.

Wait overnight to give your Thinset tile adhesive a chance to set.

Then you're ready to grout your shower tile.

Leaving Tiling A Shower - Go To Shower Tiling