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How to Install a Porcelain Tile Shower Surround

Don't assume you're stuck with the ugly tile in your shower. Replace it! Just follow these 8 steps.

More in Bathroom

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  • Time


  • Price Range

    $250 - $500

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard


Step 1: Cut Along Edges of Old Tile

Wearing safety goggles and gloves, cut along the edges of the tile of the shower surround with a reciprocating saw to remove the tile and backer board. Be aware of the depth at which you are cutting in case there is plumbing or another wall behind.

Step 2: Remove Old Tile

With a hammer, knock out the tile and backer board.

Step 3: Install New Backer Board

Once all of the tile is removed, and walls are cleared of debris, install new backer board with the factory edge at the bottom. Maintain a ½” gap between the backer board and the top of the shower pan to prevent water from wicking up into the backer board.

Step 4: Apply Thinset

Apply thinset evenly to the backer board with smooth edge of a notched trowel. Use the notched edge to create ridges in the mortar. Work in sections so mortar won’t dry before the tiles are applied.

Step 5: Install Tiles

Install the tiles applying uniform pressure and slightly twisting them into place to embed them in the mortar (Image 1). As you tile, cut tiles to size with a wet saw to fit corners and around plumbing fixtures (Image 2). Always wear eye protection when working with power tools.

TIP: Consider using manufactured stone. It’s about half the price of natural stone and gives you the same great look.

Step 6: Add Spacers Between Tiles

Place plastic spacers in between tiles to maintain a consistent space between joints.

Let tiles set for 24 hours before grouting.

Step 7: Apply Grout

Remove the spacers and spread the grout on the tiles with a grout float. Press firmly to push grout over the tile and into the joints. Remove excess grout with the float, then wet a sponge and wipe diagonally across the tile. Squeeze out excess water before wiping again and change water if it becomes dirty. If a haze remains on the tile surface after grout dries, use a soft cloth to buff it out.

Step 8: Apply Sealer

After grout has cured completely, use a small sponge brush to apply sealer to the grout joints.

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