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03 April 2007

How to Tile Shower Walls

Once the Hardibacker was up it was finally time to get to the tiling. This is the fun part and my wife (8 months pregnant) decided to join me.

A few things to note before getting started:

1. Do not use Mastic, use a thinset and stay away from the premixed stuff.
2. You want to dampen the cement board prior to troweling thinset on. If you do not, the cement board will draw the moisture out of the thinset too quickly, making for a brittle set that is susceptible to cracking.
3. Pick out the right trowel for your thinset and tile size, also pay attention to spacing recommendations and use the right spacers. I recommend 1/8” or less spacing so that you can use unsanded grout (easier to seal).
4. Remember you are not going to grout at the corners, you are going to caulk so try to maintain an even spacing.

5. GET THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB. I suggest you spend a little money to rent or buy the correct tools as they will make it that much easier. I have put together a few must haves here:

  • Tile Saw or Tile Cutter

  • Notched Trowel

  • Grout Float

    I used 9x12 ceramic wall tiles. According to the directions on the thinset a ¼” V-notch is called for. The first thing I did was to measure up 11 ½” from the bottom of the cement backer board. This gave me a ½” overlap over the shower pan’s tile lip. I then used a level and a sharpie marker to draw a horizontal line all the way around the shower stall. I used this line as a guide for the top of the first row so that all tiles will be level.

The first night I mixed up enough thinset to do the bottom row. I moistened the Hardibacker with a sponge and then troweled on a glob of thinset. I used my v-notched trowel to spread the thinset and then set the tile into it. You want to push the tile into the thinset while giving it a little twist back and forth to get it well set. Then pull it off and make sure 95% of the tile is covered with thinset. This shows that you will get good tile coverage and therefore strong adhesion.

I used spacers in between the tiles and shims under the tile to make sure they stayed in place while they were setting up. I left the first row to set over night since this would be the support for the rest of the tiles.

Over the next few nights my wife and I, along with some help from our dog (chihuahuas love home improvement), laid tile on the rest of the shower following the same procedure as we did for the first row. Simplified, here it is below:

1. Measure up 12 inches from top of the last row. Mark line with a level as guide for next row.
2. Spread thinset between last row of tile and marked line with v-notched trowel.
3. Set tile into thinset using spacers all around.
4. Repeat for next row up.

After finishing the tile, we let it set for 48 hours before grouting. In the next post I will discuss grouting.

I know it is hard to get a feel for how exactly to tile by reading the procedure and looking at pictures. I did quite a bit of reading before I began. Again, if you ar not comfortable with the process I would do a little more reading.


Amit said...

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Kathy said...

My goodness, I just remembered how my dad and I took a lot of time to properly tile our shower walls, because for me, it was just a piece of cake to lay it on the floor, since it's flat, but this is a different story, and I just learned about how tough to do it after we bought the materials at the Brandon tile store and watched my dad working on it. When I worked on my side of the wall, it was pretty hard, since I sometimes spread the adhesive on a wrong way to keep it straight, the tiles I laid got crooked, and dad corrected my faults.

After all is said and done, I told my dad that it was easier to find the right ceramic tile (Tampa) than to lay it on the wall.

Tile Jax said...

Nice job ..
I have used these nifty little items
www.tilejax.com .. it was a great help in my bathroom reno



Anonymous said...

I have the same style shower stall and am curious as to what type of shower door you installed and where you purchased it.Pictures of your finished project would be nice to see.