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Tiling a Shower Floor, Ceiling, Walls


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Tiling a shower is no doubt an ambitious undertaking. It is a challenge that many homeowners take on though. The most mysterious part of building a shower is the constructing of a shower pan. How do you keep it from leaking? Well, you can use a prefabricated shower pan and avoid the conventional masonry construction. But many folks tackle building a shower pan themselves. So where do you start when building a shower?

The Shower Floor

Build the shower floor first. The shower floor you see as ceramic tile and grout is not waterproof. The tile and especially the grout are porous and so a liner under the surface of the floor is needed to keep the water from damaging the area around the shower. When a shower pan leaks, some part of the waterproofing plan has failed.

A shower floor is constructed on top of a solid base. It could be subfloor or it could be concrete. A special shower drain is set in place first. This drain has two sets of drain holes, one above the other. A layer of masonry is poured in place sloped to the bottom set of holes. Place on top of the sloped mortar a special vinyl membrane. This vinyl sheet is actually the waterproof layer of the floor.

The membrane is glued to the base of the drain so you then have a waterproof liner which is run up the wall several inches too.

Now above the liner a second layer of mortar is poured that is sloped toward the drain to serve as the base for the tile. After the mortar dries for a couple of days the tile is set using thinset adhesive. Then the tile is grouted and the floor is ready.


If you will tile the ceiling, this step comes next. You can support the ceiling tiles with strips of plywood over each course. Hold the strips with lengths of 2x4 wedged between the shower pan and the ceiling.


Mark lines on the back wall and then on the sides. You'll need horizontal and vertical lines. If the shower walls partially enclose the front of the shower, you can use the back corners as the vertical working lines as long as the walls are plumb.

Spread adhesive on the back wall and set the tiles until complete. Then complete the sides and then the front. Put in place any fixtures like soap dishes as you move around. Finally, complete the trim around the door or threshold.

A ceramic tile shower is a challenging project but one that many homeowners successfully tackle.

Puzzled about how to build a ceramic tile shower? Need more information? Visit our site for more tips on tiling a shower.

Al Bullington invites you to visit for answers to your ceramic shower questions.


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