How To Prep and Tile a Shower

This is a very thorough video by Lowe’s that goes over how to install a tile wall in a shower. Sample basic procedures will come in handy if tiling another area of your home like, say, a backsplash. When doing a shower, however, there will be a few extra steps involved. As with any project, make sure you have all the tools needed prior to starting your project. When tiling anything, keep in mind that you will want to have extra tiles on hand just in case you cut them wrong. This is key to be sure you have tiles from the same lot number to ensure a perfect match. There are a lot of steps involved, but as long as you follow it step by step, it should be a smooth project. They give some pointers like, for instance, if you find mold after removing the wall, you need to stop what you are doing and contact a pro to get that taken care of first and foremost. You don’t want to install a new shower and tile over mold.


We’re in the middle of a total bathroom remodel. Now we want to replace this tub with a walk-in shower. The pink walls are going to go, and we want to replace them with this beautiful new tile. In this video, we’ll show you how to do the prep. For the installation, check out, “How to Install Shower Wall Tile,” on You’ve got many choices when you work with wall tile. Whatever you like, Lowe’s has all the styles. Just be sure to follow the instructions that come with your tile. For our project, you can find the steps, tools, and materials on our website, along with some helpful tips. One thing, since we’re installing in a shower, we’re going to have a few extra steps than you would if you were tiling, say, a back-splash or another wall area. Before you get started, figure out how much tile you’ll need. Measure each wall area, length times height, add them up, and add 10% for extra.

All right; here comes the fun part. Demo. We have to get rid of all this old tile. You’re in luck if you’re starting with bare walls. Remember, don’t start tearing into anything until you’ve turned off all the power to the room and adjacent rooms, just in case. If you’re doing a wall that has outlets or light fixtures, remove those. If you have old tile over concrete backerboard, sometimes you can remove just the tile with a hammer and chisel. Typically, it’s best to remove everything to the studs and start fresh. This can get messy, so remember to protect your tub and floors. Okay, so we’re down to the studs. At this point, if you need to reroute any plumbing or electrical, now’s the time to do it. This is important. If you see any black mold in the walls, stop and call a pro to remove it. We installed the new shower base and removed the old tub using the instructions the manufacturer gave us.

Since the shower is a wet area, we’re going to install a moisture barrier over the studs. Plastic like this will work just fine. Hold the plastic just over the shower base, making sure it hangs inside the base, and staple it to the studs all the way around the surround. Now cut the bottom of the plastic so it still overlaps the flange, and just touches the base. Next step, putting up the cement backerboard. This is going to provide a strong foundation for our tile. We’re installing our backerboard about six feet high, and it will be flush with the drywall at the edges, or just outside the shower area. At the bottom, it will be about a quarter to half-inch above the shower base.

For an average DIYer, hanging this stuff is a two-person job. Hold it in place against the studs; shims below keep it at the right height. Then secure it with cement board screws. Put in a screw about every eight inches.

If you need to cut the pieces to fit, score it and snap it. To cut curves for the plumbing, use a jigsaw with a carbide blade. Cut this stuff outside. Install all of the cement board, keeping the pieces tight together. After the cement board is secured, you need to tape the joints. Apply the cement board tape, then a coat of mortar, and let it dry overnight. After the mortar has cured, it’s smart to apply a waterproof coating that acts like a membrane to the cement board. Brush it on the seams and joints, let it dry, then apply two more coats with a roller. Each coat takes about 30 to 60 minutes to dry. From this point on in the installation, it’s the same as putting tile on drywall, like you would for a regular wall or backsplash. On to the layout. Check your horizontal layout by first marking a line at the center of the work area. Set the tiles along the wall, and check the ends. If the tiles are too thin, adjust the layout to get wider pieces at the sides.

Next, check the vertical layout. This is where it can get tricky. Plan on full tiles at the top, and cut tiles at the bottom. Since we’ll cut the tiles to fit, it’s best to start one row up from the bottom, because the shower base might not be level. To determine where to mark the starting line, use a level to find the lowest point. Hold a full tile there with a quarter-inch gap at the bottom , and spacer at the top, and mark it. Extend this line level in the wall. All right. Next, you want to see where the top will fit. Try this trick. Take a straight board and mark it using the tiles and spacers and the vertical layout. This is called a jury stick. Just hold it up to the wall to mark the location of the top tiles. If you need to adjust the layout, move it down if you can. Cutting a little bit off the bottom row won’t be noticeable. Once you have a good layout, extend your starting line along each wall. Okay. Got all that? Our layout is set, which means it’s time to install some tile on this wall. Check out our next video, “How to Install Shower Wall Tile,” at

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