How to Prep a Shower Wall for Tile

Tiled showers look great and, installed properly, take very little maintenance. Preparing the walls for the tile is very important. Paying attention to detail will give you a leak-proof shower for years. This is not a difficult project, but the backer board is heavy and you may need some help lifting it. Give yourself a day to complete this project before you begin to install the tile.

Things You'll Need

  • Cement backer board
  • Thin set mortar
  • 3/8-inch green board sheet rock
  • Sheet rock tape
  • 4-inch taping knife
  • Joint compound
  • Sheet rock nails
  • Hammer
  • Hole saw
  • Mesh tape
  • Putty knife
  • Laser level
  • Masonry screws
  • Power screwdriver
  • Utility knife

Instructions

    • 1

      Measure your studded wall to determine the top tile line. Using a laser level, mark a straight line on your studs. This line will be for the installation of your green board. Cut and install the green board from this line up to the ceiling all the way around the shower. Tape the green board at joints before installing the backer board. Mark the green board with a pencil where each stud is located.

    • 2

      Measure the open studded space for backer board. Start installing the backer board on the back wall. It can be cut with a utility knife and bent, and it should snap off. If it doesn't, bend it and cut through with the knife. Use a hole saw to cut out for the shower neck and water knob or knobs. Keep the backer board 1/4 inch above the shower pan to prevent wicking of the water.

    • 3

      Install with masonry screws into the studs.The pieces of board should have a 1/8-inch gap between them. The screws should be flush with the backer board. If the screws stick out, you may have trouble installing the tile.

    • 4

      Use mesh tape and thin set to cover all the joints in the backer board. This does not include the bottom to the pan; leave that open. You do not have to get the thin set perfectly flat like you do with sheet rock, but don't leave big bulges of it either.

    • 5

      Allow the thin set to dry before beginning the installation of the tile.

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