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Install Shower Wall Tile

Express yourself by installing tile in your shower. It's easy and affordable for any home-improvement budget.

Tools & Materials

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Preparation is the key to getting the finished project you want, so make sure you've prepped the wall properly. With prep work done, you're ready to tile.

In this project, the tub was replaced with a fiberglass shower base. Install the base first since the tile overlaps the base. Cover the floor so it's protected during tiling.

Step 1

The tile pattern is a running bond. Start the installation at the second row up because the shower base might be uneven, and tile must be cut to fit.  The bottom row is last.

Step 2

Attach a straight board for a starting line and to help keep the tile level and in place.

Step 3

Mix the thinset according to the directions. It will typically be a paste-like or peanut butter consistency.

Step 4

Spread thinset along the guidelines in a small work area. Don't cover too much. With the notched side of the trowel, comb over the thinset in one direction, and put the excess back in the bucket. Take a tile and gently press it onto the mortar, lined up with your guides. Then add the next piece using spacers.

Step 5

When you get to a corner, you'll probably need to cut the tile to fit. Just mark and cut.

Step 6

Finish the row and move up to the next one. It's a good idea to periodically check that the tiles are level and straight. Take one off to see if the thinset is sticking. If not, use a larger notched trowel. If you need to cut the tile to fit around plumbing, use nippers or a hole-saw designed for tile. Continue setting the tile. For exposed edges, use bull-nosed edge tiles if available, or finish off with trim pieces.

Step 7

When you've installed the tile, remove the support board. Then install the bottom row. You'll most likely have to cut the pieces to fit. Leave room for expansion. Keep placing the tile until you're done.

Step 8

After the thinset has dried for 24 hours, remove the spacers and get ready to grout. Use a grout recommended by your tile manufacturer.

Step 9

Mix enough to work in a small area. Apply the grout with a rubber float. Work it into the joints by dragging the float in a diagonal motion. After about ten minutes, wipe away the excess with a wet sponge. Try not to wipe the grout out of the joints. Continue grouting in small sections until the entire wall is done.

When the grout has dried there might be a slight haze on the surface. A haze remover will take that off.

After a few days, apply a grout sealer and silicone sealant to the corners, edges, tub, and floor joints.