A tiled shower simply spells out elegance. It tends to breach the line between what can be considered as an ordinary bathroom to an elaborate one and for a couple of reasons. The obvious one is that it, of course, it just looks better than a vinyl shower, but it’s the very low-maintenance, easy-to-clean properties that sets a tiled shower apart from the rest. Today, I’m going to do a little “DIY” post about how to properly install a tiled shower surround!
Materials You’ll Need for a Tiled Shower Surround
- Tape measure
- Framing square
- Marking pencil or Sharpie
- Drill and mixing paddle
- Spray bottle
- Tile trowel (Click here to see the size you should use for your tile)
- Sponges (for grout)
- Spacers – We used 1/8 size
- Mortar – I like premixed
- Grout – (Click here to learn if you will need sanded or un-sanded)
- Carpenter’s triangle
- Safety glasses
- Manual tile cutter (depending on type of tile)
- Wet tile saw (depending on type of tile – click to see how to use) – This is what we used.
Tiled Shower: Tape it up
Now, it may not seem like it, but you’re going to want to tape some sort of plastic wrap around the shower. This is simply so you can protect your investment and it’s so much easier on pick up.
Tiled Shower: Setting Up A Base Line
Alright, people this is pretty important. Listen up. It may seem like the best thing to do is start at the ceiling or from the tub, but it’s not. You just don’t know for sure if it’s level or not, and even if you take a level to it, it’s best to just stick on the safe side. So, what you’ll do is center your base line. Measure from wall to wall, and find your center. Draw a horizontal line across. There’s your starting point.
Make sure you account for your grout lines (thickness of the spacers you’re using). From there, I suggest fastening a piece of wood at that line, so your first line of tile is 100% level. Get this right, and you’re smooth sailing. Don’t, and you’re pretty much going to through hell trying to back track.
In the event that you cant follow the line of the countertops, you’ll want to measure the height of half of your tile. Now, use your level to make a line all the way across. This will give you an even line to follow. You can either build a small wooden ledge on that line to ensure that your tiles don’t slip, or you can make a point to check that they’re not sliding as you work, and adjust them if they are.
When your wall is tiled to the top of your space, you’ll then go back and make cuts for this last half row on the bottom, next to your countertop. If you have a slight angle, that is something you can cut into the tile if needed. This way, the bottom of the tile may be angled ever so slightly on the edge of the countertop, but the row itself will be straight.
Tiled Shower: Time to Tile
Now, you’re going to want to center your tile on previously fixed piece of wood. This is so you can get your staggering down, from wall to wall. Then, on the second row, you’ll just work out from the center of the tile below it.
Go row-by-row on each wall, so you know where you end up on each end. This will also ensure that everything is straight, which by the way, it’s probably a safe bet to get out the a straight level and check your progress periodically. Just for peace of mind.
This can be kind of difficult to achieve if this is is your first time tiling a shower, but once get used to your tile saw, it’s easy enough. This is another reason why it’s good to go row-by-row, so you’ll know exactly where each tile will be. If you’re lucky like we were, the cutout will end near the middle of a tile.
If you’re not using bullnose, you’re going to want to put a couple strips on edging (steel bead, pictured below) along the side of your tile at the very end.
Be cautious of the size that you buy, too. You want the round edge to be flush with the side of your tile, ideally.
Adding a decorative, mosaic tile will tremendously enhance the look of your tiled shower. With the process, you can usually start at one end of the other, as you’ll be making cuts regardless, and because of the way the mesh-back is made, this is pretty simple to do.
Don’t press too hard on the mosaic. You can thank me later, but it is extremely difficult to get the excess mortar from between the mosaic lines. Like, really difficult. Save yourself an hour or two and press lightly.
Tiled Shower: Clean the Grout Lines
Alright, this is also pretty important. If you did as I suggested and gave the tile a day to set, then the mastic is dry. If you look closely, you can see it in the grout lines. It’s time to set yourself up for the perfect grout job.
Get a razor blade and slice through the lines. Once you’ve done this, vacuum up the excess, and you’re ready to grout!
Tiled Shower: Grout
The lines are clean, and now it’s time to apply the grout of your choosing. Mix it up real nice and float it even better. Now, at this stage, you can throw cleanliness out the window. The stuff is going to get everywhere, and you shouldn’t be conservative with how much you use.
Clean After Your Grout
Once you’ve finished grouting each line, dampen a sponge and clean the surface. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, so you don’t grab grout!
Tiled Shower: The Waiting Game Part II
Let the grout dry overnight. Come back in and wipe it all down. Then after, grab a towel and buff the entire shower walls. This will get rid of that haze that was leftover from the initial cleanup.
Then…you’re ready to seal it in. Scour the entire shower before you do. Once you apply that sealer, it’s a wrap. The dirt and grime that was there will stay there, so be careful. Then step back, and admire your work!
You’re all Finished
Builders Surplus is a full service renovation company with locations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Newport, Kentucky, which also serves Cincinnati, Ohio. We are the leading provider of Ledge Stone, wall tile and backsplash tile in Louisville, Newport, and Cincinnati. We specialize in interior design, kitchen design, bathroom remodel, building materials, and home improvement. Interior Design and measurements come as a free service to our clients. We sell building materials ranging in every price point, from unfinished kitchen cabinets to top of the line Wellborn cabinets.
In addition to interior design, we also offer installation services. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free design consultation with one of our interior designers, we would encourage you to do so. We love sharing our knowledge with clients & potential home renovators. We write about interior design, home decor, decorating ideas, and home improvement. We hope you’ll check back in for our next article! Happy Renovation!
Written By: Chris Chamberlain