Introduction: How to Tile a Shower Wall...AND Cut Tiles Like a Pro!!

About: We love home improvement and enjoy sharing tips on YouTube and Home Repair Tutor. Everything we do is self taught. Over the last 12 years we've bought and rehabbed several rental homes in Pittsburgh. Sometim…

Do you want an amazing tiled shower?

You're in the right place.

Today we're going to show you how to tile a shower wall.

Specifically the trickiest shower wall: the one with all the plumbing.

You'll learn so many tips your friends will think you're a professional.

What do you think? Does that sound cool...

Step 1: Starting Your Layout

What's most important when tiling a shower wall?

Starting with your layout. No duh captain obvious, but what's that involve?

The first thing you should do on the plumbing wall is continue the layout design you have on the main wall.

Step 2: Continuing Your Layout Pattern

By the way, always start your shower tiling project on the main 5 foot wall (if tiling a tub).

Plan your tile layout so that it doesn't leave you with less than 2 inches of tile on the bottom or top.

This shower tile is 12 x 24 inches and we decided to have 6 inch pieces on the bottom and top.

Step 3: Getting Started With the First Row

How do you get started?

The tub in today’s tutorial is in alcove.

There was a limitation since the alcove had a bump out on the non-plumbing side.

Thus…the width of the non-plumbing wall dictates the width of the tile on the plumbing wall.

Step 4: Account for Schluter Edging

If you use Schluter edging like we did, measure the width of the edge.

Make a pencil mark on the wall, and run a vertical line up the wall.

Steve shows you exactly how to do this in our video.

Step 5: Starting the First Row

How should you start the first row of tile?

Lay a 1/16″ horseshoe shim on the tub.

Measure to the first grout line on the main wall tile and that’s the height of your first tile.

Step 6: How to Cut Holes for Tub Spout

How should you cut holes for the tub spout?

The gist is to transfer the tub spout location to the tile and use a diamond hole saw.

If you have 1/2″ copper pipe we’d recommend using a 1″ hole saw to give yourself wiggle room.

Step 7: Dry Fitting Tile

Dry fit your tile to make sure it fits.

Step 8: Use Good Thinset

Which thinset is the BEST for hanging vertical tile?

Without a doubt it’s Ardex X 77.

You won’t find X 77 in home stores.
But you won’t find a better thinset that holds heavy tiles to walls or ceilings.

If you are going to install a mosaic between large tiles…Ardex X77 is the way to go.

It prevents the large tiles from sliding down the wall and messing up the appearance of the mosaic.

Step 9: Apply Thinset to Wall

Apply thinset to the wall such that all the ridges run the same direction.

Step 10: Backbutter Tile

Here’s a BIG tip: backbutter your tile.

Apply thinset to the back of the tile.

Step 11: Position Tile on Wall

Position your tile on the wall.

Make sure the 1/16″ horseshoe shims are between the tub and tile.

And level the tile with your laser or pencil line.

Using a laser level makes this process so much easier.

Step 12: Leave a Gap Between Adjacent Walls

How much space should be between the corner tile and adjacent tile?

Steve recommends about 1/16″.

You should always use 100% silicone at this joint or a high quality urethane grout (we like Bostik’s QuartzLock)

Step 13: Place Cut Tile Edges Againts Schluter Edge

For the next several rows Steve recommends making the cut edge be next to the Schluter edging.

That way the manufactured edge gives you a nice looking grout joint.

Step 14: Use SeamClips

Throughout the video you’ll see blue clips holding the tiles in place.

These are called Tuscan SeamClips.

They’re awesome for two reasons

  1. They provide consistent grout joint spacing
  2. They hold tiles together and help eliminate unevenness or lippage

Just make sure to get the right size SeamClip.

You need to measure the thickness of your tile and buy the SeamClip that fits the tile profile.

For most homeowners the next big challenge is cutting holes in tile for the mixing valve.
You’re in luck…Steve shares his secret technique…you won’t see this in books.

Step 15: Use an Angle Grinder to Cut Large Holes

What’s the scariest part of tiling?

Getting stuck and not having an answer…well, that’s my biggest fear!!

This tends to happen when homeowners need to cut a large hole in tile.

You can buy a 3″ or 4″ carbide hole saw…but they are super expensive.

Or you can use a 4 1/2″ angle grinder with a tile blade.

AND: I guarantee you’ll use the angle grinder for some other project or you can sell it.

Step 16: Watch the Video

At about the 13:50 mark in the video Steve shares EXACTLY how to cut large holes in tile.

I do recommend two things… …you use a wheel guard and all other necessary protection.

Don’t commit a crime against your bathroom tile, watch our video and avoid some of the most common mistakes when tiling a shower