How Do You Install Tile in a Shower?

To install shower tile, begin by putting a cement backer board in place. Dry lay the tile on the floor or on a board to preview its look on the shower walls. Space out the layout, put the tiles in place, and add grout after the mortar has dried.

  1. Prepare for the installation

    Secure a cement backer board to the studs after you have removed all of the old tile, in order to keep moisture from the shower out of the inner recesses of your house. Dry lay the tile pieces, as well as any decorative borders or motifs, to envision its layout on the wall and figure out how many panels you need and where cuts are necessary. Install a starter board several rows above the bottom of the wall to help keep your installation in a straight line. Cut tiles and panels now for the places on the side walls where the pre-set panels and tiles do not fit evenly. Use a sandstone after cutting with a tile saw if you want to retain a weathered look on all four sides of the tile rather than the clean cut look on that side.

  2. Set the tiles in place

    Spread thinset mortar along the wall for the first section of tiles you plan to install, using a notched trowel to build suction to keep the tile in place. Put the first tile (or panel of tiles) along on the wall, using your starter board to guide you, and test the straightness of your line with a level. Press tiles evenly into the mortar, using a grout float or your hands. Wipe tiles clean with a damp sponge, and put spacers around the tiles to keep them in place until the mortar is dry. Add the pre-cut tiles and panels as well, making each row flush.

  3. Move to the floor

    Apply thinset mortar to the floor with a notched trowel. Slide the tiles into place, and push them into the mortar with the grout float. Make sure to do the floor last, so you're not stepping on it while you're putting tiles on the walls. Begin at one wall, and move across, applying your pre-cut pieces for the area around the drain last.

  4. Add the grout

    Mix the grout for your shower walls, following the directions on the packaging. Apply the grout with a rubber float, working up from the bottom on the walls and holding the float at an angle with joints. Move to the floor, adding grout. Allow the grout to dry, and wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge. Apply grout sealer after the grout has dried and you have filled any shrinkage gaps and allowed those to dry as well.