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Planning to install tile on your bathroom’s shower walls and floor? You’ve come to the right place!
Make no mistake—the bathroom shower is a good place to relax and be comfortable. Tile it up and it becomes a piece of heaven right in your own home. A new tile doesn’t only make your bathroom walls and floor more durable, but it also boosts your home’s curb appeal.
It’s not difficult to tile a shower if you’re willing to put in the time to get familiar with the process. And this comprehensive guide tells you everything you need to know to do that.
What are the best shower tile ideas to make your bathroom shower stand out?
Now before you tile your bathroom shower, you need to decide on the overall design. You don’t want to carry out the tiling work only to change your mind midway through or at the end.
Before you decide on a tile pattern, you need to get familiar with different designs, not to mention the materials that work best for your bathroom.
Here’s a fair warning: the variety of choices is likely to overwhelm you. To avoid analysis paralysis, you need to home in on your priorities and preferences. That way, it becomes easier to come up with an informed decision.
Here are shower tile ideas that will help you transform your bathroom shower from average to spectacular.
1. Go for patterns that complement the rest of the room
Don’t pick a tile design just because it looks beautiful or cool. Ask yourself: Is it going to blend well with the rest of the room? Also, you want shower tile patterns that highlight the visual appeal of the materials you’re using. Are you using natural stone? Then you’re better off using beige bathroom tiles. You want to give the entire tableau a sense of balance as well. If a majority of the bathroom space has a dark color palette, you can lighten the mood by using tile with a pale yellow or pale pink design (in this case, it’s best to avoid pure white to avoid shocking contrasts).
2. Use grout for added contrast
Speaking of contrasts, you can use grout to add some contrast to the overall design. If you have a color scheme in mind and want to imbue the bathroom with different shades of the same color, applying grout along with tile can add more texture to the overall design of your bathroom shower.
3. Tile the bathroom ceiling
When tiling your bathroom, why limit yourself to the floor and the bathroom? Tiling the bathroom ceiling as well doesn’t only give your entire bathroom a more “complete” look, but it also makes it more resistant to mold. When choosing tile patterns for your bathroom’s walls and floors, consider how effectively they’ll complement the bathroom ceiling.
4. Give your bathroom design the “oomph” factor
If your bathroom has a “soft” design, you can give it the “oomph” factor by opting for powerful designs or patterns. Showcase your personality by using Morrocan-inspired tiles to smoothen the transition to dominantly green patterns. Coffee-colored marble tiles can also blend well with materials that have a crisp white shade. This Elle Decor article should give you neat ideas.
5. Put a shower bench in there
If you ever wished there was a seat nearby to relax on while taking a shower, then it’s high time to install a shower bench (this one must be done by a tile contractor. Beyond its utilitarian uses, it also adds to the room’s visual appeal. For the ladies, you can sit on it while shaving your legs!
6. Add a tiled shelf and alcove
Most bathroom shelves and alcoves are made of plastic or old fiberglass. Nothing wrong with that, but if you want something that complements the tile work in your bathroom, tiling up your bathroom shelves and alcoves is always a good idea. Tile is more durable and is less likely to incur water damage.
7. Mix and match it up
Using only one tile pattern makes your bathroom shower look monotonous and… boring. Add a new twist and some texture to the overall design some twist and texture by mixing and matching it up! This article by Deringhall might give you ideas for mixed tile designs.
8. Add a splash of color into the niches and borders
Adding striking colors into the niches and borders of the bathroom shower not only add color texture into the design, but it also lends a sense of balance to your bathroom as well as highlight its utilitarian uses. If the surrounding areas have a light color palette, you can add a crisp contrast by complementing them with darker colors. Adding neutral colors in key locations also allow for smoother transitions.
How to prepare your bathroom shower for tile installation
You must perform some prep work before tiling your bathroom shower. For one, your shower tiles need a durable, waterproof foundation. It also guarantees that your tiles will last beyond their projected lifespans.
Here are the preparatory steps you need to take before tiling your bathroom shower:
1. Choose the tile or tiles for the project
As previously mentioned, tiles come in a wide range of materials, designs, patterns, and colors. This is where you need to put your creative hat on. Don’t be afraid to mix and match, and make sure that the overall design isn’t all over the place (disorienting bathroom designs can cause fatal accidents).
That said, here’s a pro-tip: Don’t use large tiles if you have a small shower. If you have a big shower, knock yourself out! Big tiles allow you to be liberal with your design choices.
2. Find out how many tiles you’ll need
Grab a tape measure. Measure each wall from corner to corner and then write down the sizes and locations. Determine the sum total of all areas and then add 10% extra.
3. Check building codes for compliance details
You might also want to check for any local building codes specific to bathroom tile installation. In most locales, the shower floor should measure at least 30 inches square foot. If your bathroom is in a mobile home, you may need to consult with a mobile home contractor first.
4. Strip away the old tile
You need to remove any old tile if there’s any. But first, turn off any electrical outlets and remove any bathroom fixtures that may get in the way. Don’t forget to wear safety gear and make sure to place a tarp or to tape the floor with plastic. Removing tiles can get messy so don’t forget to wear safety gear to protect yourself from dust and grit. To remove the old tile, use a hammer and a chisel. If the old cement backer board (CBU) is still intact, try to break off the old tile without damaging it.
5. Check for mold.
If you see signs of any mold, call a mold remediation professional to have them removed. Why? Exposure to mold can negatively impact your health in many ways, including wheezing, coughing, hay fever, allergic symptoms, and more.
If you’re getting mold, it’s possible that your bathroom has plumbing issues. You can hire a plumber to check for any hidden leaks caused by faulty pipes.
6. Install a vapor barrier
A vapor barrier is a thin material (usually made of polyethylene sheeting) installed on the backer board to prevent moisture from damaging the substrate. Make sure that the barrier covers areas 6 feet from the floor as well as towards the edges of both walls.
7. Install the cement backer board
The cement backer board can serve as a durable, water-resistant base for your shower tile. Before installing the board, measure the area to be covered and then cut accordingly, making sure that it extends at least half of an inch at the base. Don’t forget to put on safety gear (safety glasses and respirator) and make sure to do the cutting outdoors, with no one else around.
Lastly, install the cement backer board to the studs using the screws that came with the backer board and then secure the expansion gap at the base with shims.
8. Start applying a waterproof membrane
Apply the membrane over the joints and seams using a paintbrush and then apply the first coating over the backer board. Leave it to dry for at least 60 minutes.
9. Plan the tile layout
Once you’re done waterproofing, you must plan the tile layout. This not only ensures that the tiling process goes according to plan, but it also guarantees there won’t be any excess tile at the corners and at the ceiling.
So grab a pen and paper, and then draw a template for the tile layout. Do this for each wall. After going over the measurements, cut the paper accordingly so that it matches the size of each wall.
10. Double-check if the walls are ready for the tile.
Look at the walls closely. Are they wavy or facing any problems not being level? If so, apply patches of thin-set on them until they’re perfectly aligned. Next, scrape off any loose paint or excess wallpaper before dusting each wall with a soft cloth.
How to install tile on a shower wall
Are you done with the prep work? Let’s get to the good stuff!
1. First, cover the tub
Many people skip this step, confident the tile pieces won’t fall into the tub if they’re careful enough. But alas, they almost always do, and it results in wasted time trying to clean up the mess afterward. Sometimes, the tiles get damaged as a result, costing the homeowner a few hundred dollars to get it fixed.
So, cover that tub! It’s not difficult. A tarp or a big drop cloth should be enough to do the job.
2. Cut and install the tile
By this point, you already have a layout. You have the measurements, and the lines are already there to serve as a guide as you cut out the tiles. You must keep the tiles on the level, and you have your wedgers and spacers to help with that. Also, make sure that the thin-set is not too dry and is spread evenly on the wall.
3. Grout the tile
Are the tiles picture perfect? Great! Your next step is to grout the tile. In case you’re not aware, grout is a viscous material that is used for filling spaces between tiles. This also makes the tile work more water-tight, preventing water damage. You can also buy grout from your nearest home improvement store or a local hardware store.
If you’re using ceramic tile, epoxy grout is most recommended for its durability. You can also create natural grout by mixing a half cup of baking soda with ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide. No need to add water. Just mix the mixture using a margin trowel every few minutes so that the mixture can be loosened up for easier use.
How to tile a shower wall with 12×24 tiles
12×24 tiles have been the rage in interior bathroom design lately. For some reason, big tiles have become the tile of choice for those who want to go for a more modern look. Nothing wrong with that. After all, 12×24 tiles have a visual appeal that makes it perfect for both commercial and residential bathrooms.
The problem? 12×24 tiles are a little more difficult to install than regularly-sized tiles. To help you out, let’s go over the steps and the best practices in tiling a shower wall with 12×24 tiles.
Focus on keeping the tile lined up evenly
The biggest challenge when working with big tiles is that it can be a pain lining them up. Moreover, you have to check if they’re of the same height as you lay them on top of the mortar.
But first, you need to check if the floor is leveled in the first place. This is where a 4-5 foot level can come in handy. By using it as a barometer for comparison, it becomes easier to see if the tiles are not aligned. You can set to right any misalignments by hitting them gently with a rubber mallet.
If you’re having issues with this method, a wall floor tile leveling system will help you line up your tiles with minimal time and effort.
Using thicker mortar is also recommended for bigger tiles since it’s less likely to sag, thus making it easier to keep them in position as you work. If you’re finding it difficult to maintain their levelness, the best course of action is to make your mortar a little thicker, and so on until you hit the sweet spot.
Keeping everything tidy
If you think working with bigger tiles is faster, think again. The problem with 12×24 tiles is that the time you spend keeping them leveled will cause the mortar to dry up. So it’s a good idea to use a trowel to get rid of any excess mortar as you work. By keeping everything tidy as you work, you can give yourself all the time you need to make sure that each tile is on the level.
Want to achieve that sometimes-elusive perfect grout line? If so, it’s probably a good idea to use 1.4-inch spacers. When using bigger tiles, it’s always better to use sanded grout since they’re tougher. Sure, dirt sticks to them quite more easily, but sealing them off after they dry out should fix the problem.
How to Tile a Shower Floor
If you think tiling a shower wall is tricky, wait till you start tiling the shower floor. As is the case with tiling the shower wall, you need to waterproof the floor. Moreover, it needs to be properly sloped to ensure proper drainage. Not to mention that you need to make sure that the floor is safe for you to stand on.
Doing prep work
Here are the necessary preparations you need to carry out to guarantee solid work and a smoother process.
- Make sure that the lower half of the shower drain is connected securely to the subfloor. Double-check if the drain is operating properly. Is it draining water efficiently? If not, check for clogs and have them removed.
- Install a CPE pan liner to protect the subfloor from water damage or deterioration. To secure the liner to the drain, drive galvanized roofing nails up the walls around the shower pan. Make sure there’s no tension or stress where the shower floor meets the shower walls. If the edge of the pan liner is extending towards the shower curb, let it be.
- Cut a hole in the CPE pan liner directly over the drain. Also, reinstall the upper half of the drain and then drive a galvanized roofing nail into each weep hole in the drain to keep it securely attached.
- Install your backer board, making sure that it’s extending towards the pan liner. Mark a line perimeter around the walls, around an inch from the shower drain.
- Pour pre-mixed deck mud. You can buy a pre-mixed deck from the nearest home improvement store. Pour it in a mud pan and mix with a bit of water so you end up with a “dry pack.” You know you got the mixture right if it’s still tightly packed after you squeeze it into a ball.
- Shovel the mud pack into your pan and apply it along the wall. You can use a level to keep it aligned. Begin at the rear wall to ensure a smoother application.
- Grab graduated straight edges and then place one end along the shower wall’s length and the other end towards the drain. Work the slope towards the drain using the straight edges until you get the desired angle. Repeat this procedure around the shower pan until it’s perfectly sloped from all angles. Screed the slope and pack the mud down with a wood float. Fill in any remaining gaps until the slope is perfect.
- Position your level from one wall to the other to see if the mortar bed is leveled around the pan’s perimeter.
- Leave the mortar bed to dry for at least 24 hours.
Tiling the shower floor
Okay, let’s get to the good stuff. Now that the floor is ready for tile work, all you need to do is lay the tiles on the mortar bed, right? Well, not quite. Again, you need to do this methodically if you want to do this right.
Let’s take it step by step, shall we? We’re almost to the finish line!
- Lay the tiles. Before installing the tiles, you must check first how they fit on the floor and how they align with the drain. The general rule of thumb is to lay your tiles out the way you want them to appear on the floor, but do it in a way that leaves enough room for the grout.
- Cut the tiles accordingly. Your next step is to cut out the tiles so that they can fill the entirety of the shower floor the way as they appear in your layout. You can cut the tiles accordingly to maneuver them around the edges.
- Glue the tiles to the floor. Glue the tiles to the floor one by one, applying adhesive to each as you go along. Be careful to keep the spacers in their place between the tiles.
- Leave the adhesive to dry for at least six hours.
- Remove the spacers and then apply grout on the tiles, making sure that the spaces are all filled up.
- Use a tile sealer to seal the tiles and the grout.
And you’re done! After all that hard work, don’t forget to reward yourself. Pop some champagne and take an hour or two to bask in the beauty of what you’ve worked hard for. Maybe a good shower is in the offing too!
Get quotes from competing contractors
Admittedly, tiling a bathroom is not easy. If you encounter any problems, you’re better off hiring a bathroom contractor who can do it for you.
That said, you must observe due diligence in finding the right one. After all, this is your bathroom shower at stake.
Word of advice: get as many quotes as you possibly can. The more options you have, the more likely you’ll find a contractor who will do the job properly and at the right price.
However, trying to find a contractor and gathering quotes can be time-consuming.
But what if we tell you that you can receive up to 4 quotes from competing contractors without spending a cent and with minimal effort?
That’s right! All you need to do is fill out our form and you’ll receive up to 4 quotes in no time. And it’s FREE!
This doesn’t require any obligation on your part. If you’re not satisfied with any of the quotes, you’re well within your right to ignore them. The important thing is that you’re able to take that first big step to getting that bathroom shower makeover you’ve always wanted.