Tiling a Bathroom Shower

A few weeks ago we asked on our Facebook page “What projects would you like to know more about?”. We had a few responses asking about tiling a bathroom shower – so here’s our play by play on how to get it done.

Tiling a bathroom shower may seem daunting, but with the right tools and a bit of grit (and grout!) you’ll have a new, fresh look in no time.

Materials Needed

Your preferred tile. Bring your dimensions into Friedman’s, and we’ll help you determine the quantity needed for your space.


PRO TIP: Always order 10% more tile than necessary in case of cracks and breaks. Also order all your tile at once, because there may be slight variations in the color between boxes.

Thinset Mortar


Tile Spacers

Tile Shims

Laser Level

Sharpie Marker

Notched Trowel

Rubber Grout Float

Safety Glasses

Wet Saw

Hole Saw and Drill

Table Saw

Rubber Mallet


Microfiber cloth

Rubber Gloves

Drop Cloth

Painter’s Tape

Tape Measure

Tile Sponges

Bucket of water

We’re going to assume you’ve already prepped the wall prior to beginning. The wall should be leveled, sanded, cleaned, sealed and dry.  Solid Prep work really does make for less work overall!

Click on the image below to download and print the checklist.


Step 1

First you need to have a plan. This come with fair WARNING! Planning can be a very tedious and time consuming start to a project, but we promise it will save you a lot of time, headaches and possibly tears in the long run. The goal with tile planning is to avoid any small pieces and awkward slivers of tile along the corners of the wall and the edge of the tub, working to get your layout just right.

It is best to dry-lay a horizontal row and vertical column to visualize your tile pattern on the wall. Layout out your tiles using tile spacers for your test lay, this way you know exactly where your tiles will end on the wall. If necessary, reposition your rows until you find the best layout to avoid having to cut small pieces of tile.

PRO Tip: It’s easiest to cut tile to half its size or larger. Try to plan your wall to avoid cutting tile less than 2″ wide.

Step 2

Next, mark your layout on the wall with a Sharpie. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your tub or floor is level. Most tub edges have a slight slope to help with drainage. Use and trust your level to lay your tile above all else. If the traditional level is too difficult to use, make it easy on yourself and use a laser level.

Step 3

Use your trowel to apply about 1/8″ of thinset to the wall.

PRO Tip: Only apply enough thin-set for an area you can tile in 5-10 minutes. BEWARE, some thin-set dries even faster.

To keep the layer thin and even, use the flat edge of the trowel at a 45° angle. Next, use the notched side of the trowel and apply light pressure at 45° to create long grooves. These grooves help remove excess thin-set, and they create suction between the tile and the wall.

PRO Tip: Your thin-set label will have a recommended notch size depending on the size of your tile.

Step 4

Start tiling from the middle and work your way out in both directions. To get a good firm grip, first set the tile at a slight tilt, and then twist the tile with firm pressure into place. For the first row, we suggest using painter’s tape to make sure tiles stay in place. Use the tile spacers on each tile corner to create an evenly spaced grout line.

PRO Tip: Some tiles have little nubs or may be irregularly shaped that may affect the spacing. Take the time to stand back and survey your work to check if tiles are even. If some tiles protrude out more than others, use a rubber mallet to softly tap the tile into place.

Step 5

Once you set the tile, double-check again to make sure it’s level, you don’t want tile that looks like Lombard Street.

You’ll likely get excess thin-set on the tile, but don’t worry, use a damp sponge and a bucket of water to wipe away any excess. You can remove excess from between the grout lines with a screwdriver or spacer. It’s a lot easier to clean thin-set while it’s wet rather than chipping at it with a razor later.

Step 6

Measure, mark, and cut tiles to fit along edges, electrical outlets, corners, and windows. Remember: Measure twice, cut once.

Use a wet saw to cut tiles to your measurement and a hole saw is great when working around circular plumbing.

For intricate nooks (like a shower shelf or window), cut 45° into the tile. Then apply thin-set directly to tile and place on the wall.

For wall-to-wall corners, be sure to leave enough room so caulk joints are the same width as grout joints.

Step 7

To finish off the wall, you can use a simple bullnose trim. You can also use double bullnose or quarter rounds when necessary.

Step 8

You are going to want to wait at least 24 hours before grouting. Apply grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Start in small sections by spreading the grout with your rubber grout float to fill in all the spaces, then hold the float at a 45° angle to scrape up any excess.

Every few minutes stop and wipe away excess grout and shape the grout joints with a damp sponge. Change your water bucket frequently.

Step 9

Use a microfiber cloth to wipe away excess residue. Allow another 24 hours for the grout to dry completely, then caulk around the tub, the corners of the tub alcove, and any place the tile meets the wall or ceiling.

Step 10

Enjoy your brand new, beautifully tiled shower!

Retiling a bathroom is a lot of work, but the end result is beautiful update you’ll enjoy for years to come!



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