If you’re remodeling your bathroom, you might be thinking about building a tile shower. Many people hire professionals to tile their showers, but depending on the project, your budget, and your timeline, you can learn how to build a tile shower and install it on your own.
Not only will we tell you some basic information about how to build a tile shower, but we will also discuss some things to consider before you take on this unique DIY bathroom project.
Some Things To Consider Before Tiling Your Shower
A shower with tile is not only durable and practical, but it can add an aesthetic touch to any bathroom. Before you start taking apart your old shower or head to your local home improvement store and fill your cart with tile, there are some things to consider.
If, after you’ve decided that a tile shower is an ideal project to take on, we’ll move on to teaching you how to build a tile shower.
Every home improvement project costs money, regardless if you hire a professional or DIY. The cost to tile your shower will vary greatly as it depends on the size of your shower, the type of tile you use, the cost of materials needed, and other factors.
According to some estimates, you can build a shower for just a few hundred dollars or spend thousands; again, there are many factors to consider when looking at the cost. While we can’t give you an exact cost, we can give you some price estimates to consider.
- Tile can cost anywhere from $.50 to over $80 per square foot
- Cement backer board is about $10 per sheet
- Waterproof and crack prevention membrane is about $50
- Adhesive, grout and other materials start around $50
Before you jump right into building the shower, it’s a good idea to do some price comparisons (which may mean shopping around online or at a few different home improvement stores).
Most DIY projects take at least a day, and in many cases, most DIYers devote a full weekend to work on a home improvement project. The length of time it takes for you to build your tile shower will greatly depend on the size of the shower, how many tiles you are using, how much experience you have if you have help, and other factors.
While tiling pros tend to get a shower built in about a day, you can expect that it might take at least two days (as you’ll need to consider extra time for grout).
Is Now The Right Time To Build A Tile Shower?
If you have a lot going on in your life and if building a tile shower doesn’t excite you, it may not be the right time to build a shower. It’s best to wait until you have the time and energy for building your own shower.
If your shower is starting to show more than just regular wear and tear, if you’re experience leaking, or if your shower pan is in bad shape, you should plan on building a shower sooner than later; the opportunity may be ideal for building a tile shower.
A Quick Look At Pros and Cons
While time and money are typically the deciding factors in almost all DIY home projects, it’s always good to weigh the pros and cons. Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of tiling a shower, as they can help you make a more confident decision about a tiled shower.
Even though there are other types of showers that you can build or install into your bathroom, a tile one is a great option for the following reasons:
- Freedom of creativity due to the various types and colors of tile
- Some tiles are eco-friendly and made from recycled materials
- Tiles can be cut to fit any space
- A great option if you’re planning on selling your home as it may help with resale value
- Easier to move supplies in and out of a small bathroom
- Easy to keep clean
- Most tiles are stain resistant
Although time and cost can be common downsides to building your own tile shower, you may want to skip tiling your own shower if you have significant water damage from leaking or you need to replace some of your plumbing. If you have larger issues related to your shower, consult a professional first; you can always put in a shower after other problems are addressed.
If you’re hesitant to give tiling a try, find a friend who has a little experience or ask someone else to give you a hand. Not only can it be helpful to have another person, but it can make the project more fun.
Selecting The Right Tile For You
You may love the look of a mosaic pattern of small, colorful tiles in a shower but it may not be realistic for your DIY shower project. Aside from cost, there are a few things to consider when shopping around for tile.
Smaller tiles offer more slip resistance but can be more difficult to clean and maintain. Larger tile is often a popular choice for DIYers because it may be easier to install and keep clean over time. If you choose larger tiles, look for tiles with a slip-resistant rating of A or B. As you’re browsing your tile options, ask a store associate for some advice or feedback.
Remember to select your tile wisely. Not only should you love the way it looks, but it should be safe and functional in your shower for years to come.
Ready To Tile Your Shower? Here’s How To Do It Yourself
As we discuss some of the basic steps to building a tile shower, keep in mind that the steps may vary (or be more involved) depending on the size of the shower, the tile you choose, and other factors that we’ve already discussed. In this article, we are also assuming that you have a shower structure in place.
If you are building a shower, rather than remodeling and tiling, there are plenty of great resources available.
Before you begin, some materials and tools you might need may include (but are not limited to): spacers, grout, notched trowel, level, and tile nippers. Always remember to wear safety glasses and you may want to wear a mask to cover your face when using adhesive, grout, or when cutting tile.
Prepping The Shower
Before you can begin building your tile shower, you need to lay everything out (much as you would when putting together a puzzle or a mosaic pattern). Choosing tile that is available on pre-spaced mats can be a timesaver and is a great choice for DIYers. It may cost a bit more than individual tiles, but it’s less work and a little more “foolproof.”
After measuring dimensions of the shower (such as the floor, ceiling, and walls) that you will be tiling, layout the tiling on the floor so you can get an idea of how it will look. This is an excellent opportunity to make any adjustments.
During this time, you should also install a cement backer board in the shower area (this is assuming that the shower membrane and pan are already in place).
Setting The Tiles
Once you’ve planned out your layout, you can begin to set tiles on the shower wall. Depending on the size and weight of your tiles, you may benefit from screwing a starter board into the cement board; this will help keep your first line of tiles level and stay in place (just make sure the board is straight).
Use thinset mortar (applying it to the cement board) to keep the tiles from sliding around once you’ve put them in place. You can use your hands or a grout float to apply enough pressure to help the tiles set into the mortar. Each time you set the tiles, wipe them with water and a clean sponge. You will also place spacers to hold the tiles in place as they dry.
The key is to take your time, do small sections of tile at a time, and make sure that they are level. Doing too much at once can make the thinset dry out too quickly. Depending on the design or size of tiles, you may need to cut them down to fit. Always have extra tile on hand in case you cut one wrong or one breaks.
Tile The Floor Last
If you’re planning on tiling the shower floor, always tile it last as you don’t want to step on the tile while tiling the rest of the shower. You should follow the same steps you did when tiling the walls. You may need to custom cut some of the tiles to fit around the drain. If this is the case, you’ll need to apply the thinset directly to the tiles before you lay them.
Finishing Up With Grout
Once the tile is set, it’s best to use a grout that is about 75% sanded and 25% non-sanded. As you apply the grout with the rubber float, you should start at the bottom and work your way up. A good way to ensure that grout is applied thoroughly and evenly is by angling the float while working from bottom to top.
Let the grout dry a bit, wipe any excess with water and a sponge, and let them continue to set and dry. Depending on temperature and other factors, this could take a few hours. For best results, follow the directions on the grout mix.