How to Tile a Shower Niche

Introduction: How to Tile a Shower Niche

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. Somet...

Shower niches make tiled showers look awesome.

In today's Instructable we'll walk you through step-by-step how to tile not one but two niches at the same time.

And we have a complete step-by-step video tutorial where we share some awesome tools that make this project way easier.

Let's dive in.

Step 1: Choosing Your Trowel

If your tile is 1/4 inch thick we recommend using a 1/4" x 1/4" square notched trowel.

The square notches allow the tile to adhere to the thin-set...which by the way is what you want to use in the shower.

PLEASE don't use mastic in a wet area. It's organic and simply doesn't have the bond strength of thin-set mortar.

We used Ardex X77 thin-set for shower tile because it holds tile to the wall and ceiling (if you are tiling the ceiling X77 is the best thin-set).

Step 2: Add the Sill

The first step to tiling a shower niche is to add the sill.

This is typically a piece of the main wall tile or marble.

Step 3: Comb Thin-Set on Niche Back Wall

Comb thin-set to the sill and back wall.

Your thin-set ridges should stand up and not sag.

Always mix thin-set according to the manufacturer's directions...although, we have to admit we just do it by eye.

Step 4: Backbutter the Sill Tile

Backbutter the sill tile and apply thin-set to the niche's sill.

Add a bit more thin-set to the back of the sill tile.

Step 5: Add Tile to Sill

Embed the sill tile to the niche.

It should be sloped by 1/16" toward the tub or shower.


So that water doesn't collect in the corner of the niche and create mildew issues.

Use a torpedo level to see the slope.

Step 6: Laser Level the Sill

Okay, this is where tools come in handy.

Use a laser level to ensure the sill tile is level.

If you're tiling two niches, a laser level is a must as it will help keep all the tiles level with each other.

Step 7: Make the Sill Proud

The sill tile should hang outside the niche by 1/16" if you'll be using pencil trim tile to frame the niche.

As you can see in this picture, Steve is using 12x24" wall tile that's the same thickness as the sill.

By making the sill stick out by 1/16" he'll make the pencil tile hang out over the main tile by the same distance.

It adds a picture frame look that's more aesthetically pleasing to the eye...yes, this is super important if you want your tile to look good.

Step 8: Level Each Sill

Use the laser level to ensure both sill tiles are level with each other.

Step 9: Embed Tile Mosaic

Embed the tile mosaic by hand then embed them fully in the thin-set with the grout float.

Some thin-set will ooze out of the grout joints. Just remove it with a carpet knife (be careful not to pierce your waterproofing) and damp sponge.

You can cut tile mosaics with either a tile wet saw or tile cutter.

Step 10: Use Horseshoe Shims

You'll likely have to piece together tile mosaics.

Use 1/16" horseshoe shims to space the two pieces evenly.

Step 11: Embed the Top Tile

The next step is to add the top piece of tile.

This will hide any imperfections in your tile mosaic if you had to cut it close to the top if the niche.

Also, make sure to have factory edges face the exterior of the niche.

That way, when you use the pencil trim or a Schluter metal profile you'll have a great looking grout joint.

Step 12: Level the Top Tile

Use your laser level to ensure the top tiles are level with each other.

Step 13: Get Dimensions for the Side Tiles

Measure the front dimension of the side tiles (more on this in the video).

You'll have to make a scribe cut on the bottom portion of the side tiles to accommodate the sill tiles slope.

Use a 4 1/2" angle grinder with a DeWALT XP4 disc to cut through the tile.

CAUTION: please use all the protective equipment necessary to keep yourself safe. Yes, in the video you'll see Steve cutting tile with the angle grinder minus a wheel guard or really any protective equipment, but please be careful.

As you add the side tiles use the laser level to see if they're plumb.

Step 14: Watch Our Video

If you watch the full step-by-step tutorial watch our video.

Steve will give you extra tips that'll make this project way easier.

Let me know your questions.

We'd be happy to help and provide more details if you need them.

Have a great day,


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