Installing a Shower Surround


What Kind of Surface Do I Need?

  • Installing a new shower surround can turn an old out of style surface into a beautiful, easy to maintain shower area. A surface that is structurally sound can normally accommodate a new shower surround. This includes drywall, plaster and tile. When installed over old tile, the tile will need to be scuffed up with sandpaper first, and plaster will need to be smoothed out. The drywall should be green board, which is moisture resistant. If the drywall is just the regular kind, it should be replaced and have a coat of latex primer painted on it before installation of the surround.

Preparing for Installation

  • The faucet handles, shower head and accessories will need to be removed. Nothing should be left sticking out of the walls with the exception of the water pipes. All repairs should be made to the walls, such as filling holes and removing moisture damage and old adhesive. The surface will need to be prepared to grip the new adhesive. This could include roughing up old tile or painting on the primer for new dry wall. Any caulk that shows signs of staining or mildew should be removed and replaced. If the caulk is in good condition, then a cleaning is all it should need. This is also a good time to clean water pipes -- get rid of stains or old Teflon tape. This will help to prevent leaking when the shower head and faucets are put back on.


  • There are many kits and surrounds on the market today. Each one will have its own set of directions. It is important to follow the manufacturer's directions carefully as to keep your warranty in effect. To begin, you will need to know where to drill the holes for your water pipes. You can use a portion of the box the surround came in as a template. Put it up to the wall and mark the places you need to cut out for the faucets and shower head. Cut the holes and put it back onto the wall to make sure they are in the correct places. Then, use the template to mark the cuts on the surround section. A hole saw or jigsaw can used to cut the holes in the panel. It helps to have a friend help out at this point. One person can hold the panels in place while the other draws the outline on the wall. This way you can check to make sure they are level and plumb. If a panel needs to be cut, measure carefully from the outside in and draw a line on the back of the panel from the top to the bottom. Normally, a utility knife will cut through the panel but some will need a jigsaw. The manufacturer's directions will explain in which order to place the panels and which adhesive to use. Some adhesive need to start curing before the panel should be placed on it, so close attention to the adhesive directions is important. Once the panels are in place, the faucets and shower head can be put back on. The last step is to caulk all of the joints. The adhesive and caulk will need proper time to dry before the shower is used again. If they are not dry, water can get into the joints and end up behind the panels, causing major problems later.

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  • Photo Credit Carmen Allred
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