If you have a shower wall that needs some help you can easily install new tile. Today I will share with you exactly how to tile a shower wall.
We did a semi-remodel in my daughter’s bathroom, we tore down all the tile in the shower, fixed some damage then installed new bathroom wall tiles. It came to about $500 and I am sure that if I had someone come in it would have been probably 10 times that!
We moved into our house 2 years ago. Shortly after my daughter showed me in her shower where the grout was cracked on the wall tiles.
I pulled out my Dremel and completely re-grouted the tiles. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. There had already been so much water that had gotten behind the tiles that they cracked again and started pulling away from the wall.
As you can see I had to use duct tape to cover the cracks to keep further damage from happening. Really cute right?! 😣
I knew it would be a fortune to have someone come in and redo all this tile. The rest of the bathroom is in great shape so we decided to tackle this project ourselves.
I am not going to lie, it was tough. This was my hardest project to date. But I am thrilled with how well it turned out!
*This post contains affiliate links, see disclosure for full details.
How to Tile a Shower Wall
Materials and Tools List:
- Hammer and screwdriver for demo
- safety glasses and gloves – do not do this project without safety glasses, they are super important
- white caulk and clear caulk
- mortar and grout
- Mixer attachment for drill
- Drill bit for drilling into tile
- wet saw or tile cutter
- backer board
- backer board cutting tool
- Backer Board seam tape
- tiling kit
Step 1 – Demo the existing shower wall tile.
My husband was in charge of the demo. First, he had to remove the shower doors.
Next, it was time to remove the tile. He started very carefully, then got out the hammer and went to town.
He had to be careful though because we didn’t want to scratch up the bathtub. So we put a bunch of old towels and blankets down to protect it.
Once it was all done you could see some surface mold on the studs so I used a solution of one part bleach and 10 parts water with a scrub brush and scrubbed them down. Once they dried the mold was all gone.
Hubby would tear the tile off and put it in these boxes and I would haul the boxes up the steps to the garage. I did a million trips! Got my leg and butt workout in that day!
Step 2 – How to prep a shower wall for tile.
Backerboard is the material that goes on the studs, kind of like drywall. But it’s made of cement particles, can be very heavy, and it is used to hold up your new tiles.
This stuff was not easy to cut. I highly suggest getting the backerboard cutting tool. My utility knife was quite inefficient.
Sorry, this pic is a little blurry, I think my camera was focused on the vanity, not the shower walls. I am still working on learning how to use this thing!
You have to use specific screws for backerboard. There are directions on the backerboard to tell you which screws to use. Make sure you follow the directions on the board for placement of the screws as well.
After you have cut it all and attached it to the wall it’s time to tape and mortar the seams and screw heads. You have to do this so that no moisture gets behind the wall, or we will have exactly the same problem again.
Step 3 – How to Install bathroom wall tiles.
I chose a rather large tile for this project because I have never tiled a wall and I knew I was going to be slow.
If I had done subway tile this project would have taken me a year to do!
I was on a deadline because my older daughter was traveling abroad for college and we needed this done before she got home. My youngest is using her bathroom right now and we need to get her out before the older one gets home.
I also chose a tile that would match the rest of the bathroom since we weren’t gutting the room, just doing a minor remodel.
We used the premixed mortar, I wish we hadn’t now though. It’s a lot more expensive to buy premixed. It’s sooo easy to mix it yourself and much more cost-effective. Next time I won’t buy the premixed stuff.
Using your trowel spread the mortar on the wall, kind of like icing a cake. I did a 3X4 foot section roughly at a time. Then use the notched side to make the grooves.
Take your tile and put it up and make sure you push it into that mortar. I also used a level to make sure it was straight, especially in the first row.
Using spacers in between each tile continue on until you have finished the wall.
I used 1/8 inch spacers, I personally don’t like the look of 1/4 inch, they are just too big of gaps. But do whatever you like for your room.
How to cut shower wall tile.
To cut the tile I used a tile saw that I rented from Home Depot. I could have used a manual tile cutter which I might try next time.
I just had never used one and since I was already outside my comfort zone here I wanted to stick with what I knew.
For the holes around the showerhead and faucet, you have to get this bit to cut the holes into the tile.
They come in different sizes depending on how big of a hole you need and there is an adapter you need to attach them to your drill. I didn’t figure that out until we were halfway home! UGH!
At this point, you need to let everything dry for a day. And you will need to rest your weary bones! This part of the project took us 10 hours. That included lunch and 1 1/2 trips to the Home Depot. LOL
Step 4 – How to grout shower wall tiles.
This was our favorite part and my husband did a great job on it! Here is where your project starts to get pretty! You can actually see it come together.
It’s kind of like spackling, you use the grout float and push the grout into the gaps then come in at a 45-degree angle to remove any excess.
Then you come with a bucket of water and sponge and wipe it down. You should wait about 10 minutes before doing this though.
You might notice a little haziness on the tile and if so you need to come in with the water and sponge one more time and wipe the tiles down. I had to do it and it worked like a charm.
Wait 24 hours to let it dry.
Step 5 – Put it all back together.
It’s time to re-install the shower doors, put the shower head up, and all the stuff around the faucet and water spout.
Caulk all the corners and around the shower doors. I used white on everything except the doors, we used clear there.
Here is the finished product! It looks so much better and I have peace of mind that there is no damage being done to my house.
Other Related DIY posts:
- DIY Board and Batten
- How to Stain, Paint and Reupholster a Chair
- DIY Box Molding in Stairwell
- How to Inexpensively Install Shiplap for a Farmhouse Look
- How to Stain Concrete Floors
- Inexpensive DIY Projects to Increase the Value of Your HomeHow to Drill into Masonry: Stone/Brick/Concrete
- How to Inexpensively Create a Reclaimed Wood Wall
- 13 Stunning IKEA Hacks You Will Want to do This Weekend
- DIY Countertop Ideas
- Budget Friendly DIY Backsplash Ideas
- Cheap Flooring Ideas For An Instant Update
I hope you got something out of this post and are confident to tile a shower wall yourself. It takes some time but it really isn’t all that difficult. If you have the right tools anything is possible!
- Demo Existing Tile off the shower wall.
- Attach Backerboard to the studs of the shower using screws for backer board.
- Put seam tape over where all the pieces of backer board come together.
- Apply mortar to all the seams and screws to waterproof them.
- Let dry for 24 hours.
- Apply mortar to the wall and install the tiles pushing slightly to adhere. Make sure each tile is level.
- Use spacers in between tiles.
- Let dry 24 hours.
- Apply grout in between tiles at a 45-degree angle and wipe off excess with a damp sponge.
- If there is a haze on your tile you might need to wipe it with a damp sponge again.
- Let dry 24 hours.
- Caulk the corners of the walls where the tile meets.
- Reinstall shower head and handle, doors too if applicable.