The Preparation to Tile a Bathroom Shower

The Preparation to Tile a Bathroom Shower thumbnail
You must prepare the surface that sits below the tile to ensure a long-lasting installation.

Tiling your bathroom shower's surround provides a durable and waterproof surface, as well as providing a large variety of tile styles and colors to choose from. You do not simply start laying tile on the shower's wall, though, since a tiling job requires you to go through some preparation steps to ensure that you apply the tile correctly.

  1. Clean Surface

    • Although the adhesive you use to attach tile to a shower's walls can stick to a variety of surfaces, keeping the tiles in place for years, cleaning the surface before applying any adhesive helps increase the bond between the adhesive and the wall as well as the tile. An improper bond between the adhesive and the tiles can potentially lead to tiles falling off the shower's wall prematurely. Remove any dirt or dust from the walls, as well as other debris or liquids. Before you begin the installation process, you also need to make sure the wall surfaces are dry.

    Repair Damage

    • Even though the tiles cover up the wall surface, you will still need to repair any damage in the walls before covering it up with tile. Holes or cracks in the walls can cause the tiles to not sit evenly on the wall, affecting the look of the tile after you finish the installation. Damage in the walls may also affect how the tiles adhere to the wall. Remove any loose pieces of the wall and patch the damage with a spackling compound. Once the spackling compound dries, sand it until the patches are even with the surrounding wall.


    • While you may lay your shower tile on any flat or even surface, using a backerboard or cement board as the layer under the tile and adhesive ensures that you have a consistent and clean surface to work with. You must attach the backerboard to the wall so it sits evenly. The different sections of the backerboard must sit flush with adjoining sections. Applying thin-set mortar to the joints between the backerboard sections helps keep the surface even and level. Make sure you use backerboard that is rated for high-moisture applications such as shower enclosures.


    • As with many home improvement projects, planning is key before you begin tiling your bathroom shower. You must measure all of the dimensions of the shower walls, helping you calculate how many tiles will fit on the wall surfaces. You must also plan to make cuts in tiles that encounter obstacles such as the shower's faucet. Drawing out the positioning of the tiles on the backerboard will assist you in visualizing the layout of the tile before you begin, helping you work out potential problems before you start work on the project.

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