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Bathroom How-To

How to Install Tile in a Bathroom Shower (page 1 of 4)

Learn how to install subway tile with a decorative border in a bathroom shower.

More in Bathroom

add a decorative mosaic border Watch Video
  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $1,000 - $2,500

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Prep the Shower Space

Once demolition of the old tile is complete, install a cement backer board in the shower area (Image 1).

Have a professional install a shower membrane and shower pan appropriate for the space. In our project, the shower pan is poured concrete (Image 2).

Measure And Dry Lay Tiles for Shower Wall

In our project, we used Crema Marfil, an Italian tumbled marble tile. The tiles come in different sizes, pre-spaced on mats. On the ceiling and floor of the shower, we used 2" x 2" tiles and on shower walls, 2" x 4" tiles.

Save time by setting several tiles at once. Before you start setting tile, take some measurements and see how the tiles will all lay out (Image 1).

In our project, we set the tile for the wall opposite the shower door first. Measure the top and bottom of the shower wall (ours is 82 inches long) to make sure it is straight and does not slant in or out. Tip: plan your design layout in "panels," increments of three horizontal rows of tile.

Next, dry lay the tile panels, including any decorative borders, to see the way it's going to set vertically on the wall. This allows you to see how many panels can fit, where you need to make cuts and where you should start setting.

In our project, the back wall is a consistent 48-1/2" across and we used a decorative 3-inch mosaic border between the second and third panels from the top of the shower (Image 2).

To get an accurate measurement, space out exactly how you will set the panels. After dry laying, determine the best place to start setting tiles working from the bottom up. In our project, several panels and the mosaic border is 84-1/2" tall. We started 72-1/2" from the top of the shower. Remaining bottom panels go last because cuts will need to be made.

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