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ClnlBrahm 09-18-2008 04:52 AM

Ceramic tile in bathroom
I'm in the process of constructing a new bathroom, and am to the point where I'm deciding on materials. We're going with a shower (no bath) that I'm thinking will be around 5 wide and 75 high or so. I need to decide whether to get a pre-molded fiberglass shower wall, or install ceramic tile. I MUCH prefer the look of the tile, but am unsure about what types I can use. Is a standard like 12 x 12 inch ceramic tile that you'd get at lowes something that can be used for the shower enclosure, or is there some special kind I need to use with how wet it will obviously be getting? I know there are very specific types of grout/caulk that will need to be used in the process, but as for just the tile, can I go with basic squares? Thanks for your time, Mary

buletbob 09-18-2008 06:03 AM

12 x 12 would be more of a floor tile, unless your talking marble. are you going with a shower base, or tiling over a shower pan?. If you are using a shower pan then you would need to go with a mosaic tile or a 4x4 tile for the floor. this way you will be able to pitch the floor to the drain. It will be difficult to slop a 12x12. Also 12x12 on walls ! any little bumps or high spots in the framing or substrate will make the 12x12 difficult to install and lay flat. BOB

ClnlBrahm 09-18-2008 06:30 AM

We're definitely using a shower base. So what's the maximum sized tile you would recommend using for the wall?

Termite 09-18-2008 08:13 AM

My master bathroom shower was done (by me) with 12x12 ceramic floor tiles and it looks and works great. However, it is a little unconventional to use large tiles for bathroom walls. If the walls are straight I see no reason not to do it if that's the look you want.

But, 4" and 6" tiles are more conventional and appropriate.

Be sure the backerboard edges are properly taped and mudded with thinset, and that it is properly waterproofed. Also, use good quality dry mix thinset.

ClnlBrahm 09-18-2008 10:52 AM

Thanks KC. My initial reason for considering 12 x 12's is because, well pretty straightforwardly, I'd have to use less of them. I was reading about the little spacers etc. you have to use while applying the tiles to keep the grout lines even, and I figured for a novice, the less of them, the better. Did I figure right? Basically, is it going to be harder to do the job efficiently if I have more tiles to deal with? Thanks again

Termite 09-18-2008 01:18 PM

Using bigger tiles certainly won't make the job any easier. Not at all. Big tiles want to sag, and that can be a challenge. Using smaller tiles won't make the job any tougher. It might take a little longer, but if you stick to your level and plumb layout lines you'll be in good shape.

Remember, those little spacers are your friend. Use a lot of them.

You can buy anti-sag dry mix thinset, and my experience has been that it works pretty well. For this, skip the box stores and go to a tile shop. Do not use pre-mixed thinset. :no:

I know it isn't what you're asking about, but did you apply a waterproofing membrane to the walls? Backerboard and tile alone won't cut it. I'm talking about RedGuard or a product like Kerdi. Very important.

ClnlBrahm 09-18-2008 05:04 PM

Ok, so here's another stupid question. When constructing the frame of the shower stall, I stud it, then backerboard it, the apply a waterproof membrane? Or do I need to drywall it, then waterproof the drywall, and then add the membrane?

Termite 09-18-2008 08:44 PM

You can add a vapor barrier behind the wonderboard, but I would not. I would suggest waterproofing the backerboard itself. RedGuard is a pretty easy paint-on method that goes on the face of the backerboard before you apply the tile. Kerdi is more expensive, and is a tidbit more difficult, but can be done by most DIYers. Kerdi is absolutely failsafe when installed correctly. It is a membrane that is imbedded in thinset on the face of the backerboard.

AND NO DRYWALL! Cement backerboard!

ClnlBrahm 09-18-2008 09:29 PM

Ok, so cement backerboard against the studs, and then redguard or kerdi on the cement backerboard, then start with tile process? I'm trying here:blush:

Nia 09-21-2008 07:35 PM

Do a search for "how to install ceramic tile for a shower" and you should be able to get step by step instructions and videos to guide you.

Termite 09-21-2008 09:01 PM


Originally Posted by ClnlBrahm (Post 159321)
Ok, so cement backerboard against the studs, and then redguard or kerdi on the cement backerboard, then start with tile process? I'm trying here:blush:

You got it! :thumbsup:

BJLower 09-21-2008 09:09 PM

You'll find out that this is not a hard job
The first thing is that I think one of the free classes given by Home Depot is bathroom wall tiling. I took their free class on floor tiling before I did my first floor and it helped a lot. I should point out that they neglected one thing that is pretty rare to begin with. I live near a nasty coal burning power plant so used black grout. I nearly killed myself trying to sponge that (^$&#^^) up. You have to use a grout cleaner for black grout.

My first tear out the old one a replace the shower job I was lucky enough that the neighbor across the street is a plumber and helped me build the basin.

Everyone is write about the concrete backer board only I've always heard it called Wonder Board, which is a damn good name for it. It has a texture that unlike the old “green board” will make sure the tiles stay where you put them. Yes use lots of spacers and take your time so everything stays square.

As long as your going to tile, they have a wide selection of soap, shampoo and other holders made from the same material as your tile. I like to use the corner ones because they're stuck on 2 sides and about as far out of the way as you can get them.

Hence the other great thing about Wonder Board. When your almost finished and mess up and break one of the corner shelves you but in farther down the wall it's easy to fix, at least after you get through cussing at breaking one of them. Since you've got a concrete backing you can chisel out the broken on without worrying about going right through and replace it.

If you want to give your shower that “EXTRA” look, they have mosaic tiles in the 4x4 or if you go with a larger tile you might want to pick a different tile to use as a boarder or other type of accent.

I got lucky again and a friend runs a ceramic shop. She painted (had to check) 40 tiles and fired them so that it looks like theirs a fish tank built into the wall of the shower. I would never have planned to go that far. They wife was the one that came up with that idea.

It's just a chance to add a little something extra, that won't hurt you when you go to sell the house either. I put a multi-head shower in that really finished things off nicely.

Good luck


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