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Bathroom How-To

How to Install Tile in a Bathroom Shower (page 2 of 4)

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

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add a decorative mosaic border Watch Video
  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $1,000 - $2,500

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Set Tiles on Shower Wall

Use a starter board as a straight edge whenever you do a vertical tile installation to ensure panels go in straight and level (Image 1).

Screw the starter board directly into the cement board and remove it after completing a series of panels. In our project, we installed the board on the shower wall at 72-1/2" from the top. Make sure the board is level before starting to set panels along this edge.

To prevent the tiles from sliding down after they're set, use non-sagging thinset mortar (Image 2).

Use a notched trowel to spread the thinset which creates a suction to hold the stone in place as the mortar dries. Place the panel onto the thinset using the starter as a guide. Use a level to make sure tiles are straight. Once in place, push the tiles evenly into the thinset. Use your hands or a grout float to apply pressure.

Wipe the tiles with water and a clean sponge as you set them. Check the level of each row before you set the next one (Image 3).

Use spacers to hold tiles in place while they dry (Image 4).

If a tile is broken, pull it off the cement board and replace it with one that is intact. Put the tile up in stages, a section at a time, so the thinset doesn't dry out.

Set Tiles on Shower Side Walls

Measure the width of the shower walls on either side of the door. Dry lay the panels and measure them to see where you need to make cuts. In our project, one wall is 31 inches and the other is 36 inches.

Set the tile panels on the side walls with thinset, the same way as for the back wall, using the starter board. Clean the tiles with a sponge and water as you work. At the corner where there are gaps, fill in the spaces with cut tiles.

Cut the Tiles

Once you finish setting the panels, make cuts for the edges of the walls. Use a wet saw to prevent tile from breaking or splitting.

Mark the tiles with a pencil where cuts are needed. Hold the piece firmly in place and gently slide it under the wet saw blade.

use a wet saw when working with tile