How to Install a Ceramic Tile Shower?

Ceramic tile showers are a great way to upgrade your bathroom. The process of tiling a shower is a relatively simple DIY project that usually takes a few days. 

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Start by preparing the area. Be sure the walls are flat, dry, and structurally sound. Use a damp cloth or sponge to remove any dirt or mold from the walls. If the walls are very dirty, scrub them with a commercial cleaning solution. 

If you need to, cover the wall with a waterproof membrane before starting your tile installation. This helps to keep moisture and mold from growing on the surface of the wall, which could compromise your final results. 

Next, prepare the shower floor. Clean the surface and apply a liquid or spray-on waterproof sealer. If the tile is made from natural stone, apply a coat of clear polyurethane sealer to the tile. 

Make sure the area is completely dry before starting your tile installation. If you are installing an existing shower, you should also remove any shower accessories or hardware to prevent damage. 

Set up a workstation and prepare your supplies. Wear protective gloves, goggles, and knee pads as necessary. You may need to work at a comfortable height. 

Prep your workstation to be as level as possible. A temporary cleat nailed to the wall in a level position is useful here. Alternately, you can use a hammer and pry bar to lift the first row of tile directly above the cleat. Once the tiles are securely secured, remove the cleat and continue to install the rest of the tile. 

Cut the Tiles

Once the bottom rows of tiles are solid and straight, you can proceed with cutting your shower wall tiles. This is the most important row of tiles to get right since the rest of your rows will be based on its accuracy. If the base of your shower wall is not perfectly plumb, you will need to adjust the angle of your corner tile cuts. 

Begin with the bottom row and cut each tile until you have a full square piece that is a proper size for that row. You can either cut each tile by hand or using a wet saw, but either way, you need to use a straight edge to ensure that your square is cut accurately and that the end of the square is aligned with the adjacent tile in that row. 

Lay the Tiles

The first row of tiles should be laid in a pyramid or step-like arrangement. This is called “back buttering” the tile, and it’s an essential part of your shower tiling project. 

Back-buttering the tile is a simple technique that can ensure your tile installations will be strong and long-lasting. It involves applying a thin scratch coat of fresh mortar to the back of the tile before you place it into the mortar bed, which will help to prevent any air gaps or spaced tiles from forming under the tile.