What Is The Best Material to Use For Shower Walls?

If you want to give your bathroom a quick makeover, a great way to do it is by getting new tile for your shower wall and giving it a go yourself. It is a bit labor-intensive and requires a dab of patience, but it’s an easy way to completely change the look of your bathroom on a budget.

Follow our step-by-step guide to create a new shower wall that you’re sure to love!

Do the Prep Work

Prepping is important! You will need to start by either removing the old tile or prepping the tile surface before applying the new tile. You want to get as smooth of a finish as possible, or you may run into issues with the tile not sitting together properly. You will be able to see imperfections, so unless that is a look you are going for, roll up your sleeves and put a lot of effort into some good prep work.

If you are using tile where each piece is different, then you may want to align everything and set it up on the floor before you even start doing the prep work. This will help you to visualize what you need to do. You’ll want to account for spacing, decorative borders, and any other design choices you will make. Be sure to measure everything out and have a plan for the edges of your design.

Next, wipe down the tile and get it ready for installation. You don’t want to install anything with too much dust or grime on it, or it may impact adhesion later in the process.

Of course, you’ll also want to gather your materials before you start this project. Don’t skimp out or buy “just enough” because that can get frustrating when you run short mid-project, and during certain stages, pausing to go buy more materials isn’t an option. You’ll need the following:

  • Tiles of Your Choice
  • Electric Screwdriver
  • Spaces
  • Pencil
  • Thin-Set Mortar
  • Screws

If possible, you may also want to find a partner to help you. Four hands are better than two when it comes to tile!

Step 1: Cement Backer Board

Next, you want to install a cement backer board in the shower. If possible, or if your budget allows, hire a professional to install a shower membrane and shower pan. This helps to keep everything sanitary.

You’ll then want to mix up your thinset mortar and ensure you have everything within your reach. Why, you may ask? When you move to the next step, working at a fairly steady pace will be essential, so material accessibility is critical.

Start Applying the Tiles

Using a thinset mortar that doesn’t sag, begin from the top of the shower, working your way down the wall. Ensure each row is level before setting the next one. Spacers are also a key element when it comes to holding everything in place. Don’t skip over half or partial tiles. Instead, have them ready at hand. Like we said: that prep work will surely pay off.

Use a sponge to wipe down each row of tiles before you move to the next one. You don’t want the mortar to dry on the tiles. Also, it’s best to continually change out the water you use to wipe the tiles down.

Set All of The Pieces You Have Cut

All of the pieces that you have cut need to be sealed so that the tile can stay sturdy. These pieces may gather water, and they can also be sharp, which can cut you or create snags. To soften the edges, simply enlist the help of a sanding stone. Then you want to set them using a thinset, ensuring that the pieces line up with the outside edge.

Set A Border If You Have One

Who doesn’t love a good border? If you have decided to use a border for your wall, you want to treat that as its own faction. Different tiles will be different thicknesses, so you will have to use a unique thinset to get the best look. Do the same thing as above, by finishing all sides of the border with the thinset.

Feel like you got a little heavy-handed with the thinset? No problem! Simply reach for a screwdriver to scrape out the excess.

Finish Along the Floorline

Too many people forget about the floor of their showers. Use the same thinset mortar to finish the floor for a fresh, complete look. If you have angled tiles or tiles around a drain, then you may have to use a special tool to get the shape right. Seal everything with thinset. Be careful about the pitch of your floor, and if there is some unevenness, then you may want to wait a few days before stepping on them or even getting them warm and wet.

Apply the Grout

Grout time! Next, you want to grout everything. Here, working from the bottom to the top is the key, so begin at the bottom. Ensure that the float is kept at an angle in relation to all joints and make sure they are filled. Allow for the grout to dry a bit, and then carefully wipe the surface, preferably with water and a non-abrasive sponge.

The best grout to use is a mix of 75 percent sanded grout and 25 percent non-sanded grout. This will help reach into the little cracks and make it easier to apply everything. Choose a grout color that best matches your tiles. Remember that it will dry a little lighter than it looks wet.

Allow everything to set, dry, then clean.

In Conclusion: Enjoy The Fruits of Your Labor

A shower that has been properly tiled is a shower that you will enjoy. It will make everything easier, from cleaning your shower to actually enjoying your time in it. The best advice is to simply take your time, so your best work shines through. So, harness your inner artist and tile the shower of your dreams! 


40 Chic Bathroom Tile Ideas | Bathroom Wall and Floor Tile Designs | HGTV

Choose the Best Grout | Family Handyman

Old Ceramic Tile | How to Take Down Old Ceramic Tile in a Shower | SF Gate

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