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How to Tile Bathroom Walls and Shower Area – 16 Easy Steps


16-new wet tile saw-flickr-hawkseyes
Photo credit: hawkseyes / Flickr

Tile has a long history as a beautiful and durable finish for any room. Modern tile is both great looking and relatively affordable thanks to mass production. As a do-it-yourself project, tiling your bathroom walls and shower area can be one of the most rewarding home improvement projects you will ever do. Here is a step by step guide to getting the professional results that will make you proud for years to come.

1. Tools You Will Need

Trying to get by with a haphazard collection of tiling tools will often leave you frustrated. Cutting corners by skipping the good quality tile saw in favor of a score and snap cutter may seem like it is going to save you money. Most DIYers given the chance to do it again, would take the money they saved and buy a better quality tile saw. With the right tools, your job will be easier, you’ll waste less tile and you’ll have beautiful results. Here are the tools you will need to do the job right.

  • Wet tile saw – available at big box home stores for $100 to $200
  • Grout float
  • Grout sponge
  • Square-notched trowel (exact trowel will depend on the size of your field tiles)
  • Putty knife
  • Tile nibbler – like a pair of pliers with an overbite
  • Chalk line – some people prefer to use a laser level
  • Box level
  • Rubber mallet
  • Buckets – if you don’t already have some get a couple clean plastic buckets
  • Safety glasses
  • Knee pads
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Cordless screwdriver
  • Coarse thread drywall screws
  • 1X2” wood batten strips (enough to extend the entire width of the surfaces to be tiled)

2. Choosing Your Tile – Handcrafted Versus Mass Produced

Handcrafted tiles have an artistic crafted look that may be perfect if you are tiling a wine tasting room, an old-world style kitchen or a luxurious spa room. At $15 to $30 a square foot, you can also probably afford to hire a professional to do the job.

Machine made mass-produced tiles give you a beautiful, hard wearing finish for about $2 to $4 per square foot. Adding a decorative border of handmade tile or designing around one large handmade feature tile can give you that crafted look while still keeping the job within your budget.

Most mass-produced tiles have a small ridge at the base of the tile that eliminates the need for spacers. If you are including a decorative border of handmade tiles or a row of top cap or trim tiles, then you may need some tile spacers. Here are a few other supplies you will need to pick up along with your tiles.

  • Thin-set mortar
  • Grout
  • Tile sealant
  • Rags
  • Painters tape