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How To Retile A Shower

By on Aug 10, 2016
How To Retile A Shower

Nothing in the home lasts forever, including tile, and since the bathroom is the most trafficked room in the home, retiling a shower is a project one must consider. Even more so, a shower gets rid of dirt, sweat or any other unwanted growths on your body. As such, it deserves to be as clean as possible.

Existing tile can only be cleaned so much. Many choose to revitalize their bathroom by retiling the shower. It can be a lengthy and sometimes timely project, but those who do bite the bullet almost always agree that it is well worth it.

How to Retile A Shower

Retiling a shower consists of completely knocking out the existing tile and installing new tile. For those of you with larger showers, this is by no means a short project. However, before you can get started, you must first choose your existing tile, which I will get to later, and gather all your tools. The tools you will need to retile your shower are:

  • New tile
  • Utility knife, chisel or putty knife
  • Hammer
  • Sander
  • Scrub brush
  • Grout
  • Grout trowel
  • Mortar mix
  • Mortal trowel
  • Paint remover
  • Tile spacers
  • Caulk
  • Goggles
  • Gloves

Remove Shower Tile

Step 1: Remove Old Tile

First, remove the shower head and shower handle. You may need a drill or screwdriver. Then, cover the shower floors to prevent damage from falling tile. You can use multiple towels or cardboard.

Take your hammer and chisel and start from the bottom corner. Gently place chisel on side of tile and use hammer to push the tile out. Start gently. As you move on, you may have to use some real elbow grease to get these tiles out.

Some of the shower tile may chip, but your goal is to get each individual piece off by itself. As you move your way inside the shower, you may have to the use putty knife or flat bar instead of a chisel. Go across one row first and then move your way down. It makes the process much easier.

Once all tile has been removed, chisel off any remaining mortar as well.

Tip: Be very careful with tile along the wall and ceiling. Use your utility knife and make a cut along the top, bottom and side tile along the ceiling, floors and walls. Be very careful with these tiles. You don’t want to ruin the walls, ceilings, or floors.

To see it all in action, watch how to remove shower tile below.

Step 2: Clean & Prepare Walls

Before moving forward, you must get all walls smooth and flat. If you missed any mortar spots, chisel those spots off now. The wall needs to be smooth before you add any tile. An uneven wall makes for uneven retile.

Next, measure the width of one wall. Find the middle and make a vertical line from top to bottom. That center is where we will start.

Step 3: Retile the Shower

Before you begin, measure your wall and decide how much tile you need. Go to the store with this number in mind. This way, you won't overspend and the store can cut some of the tile needed for the edges and around the shower fixtures.

Starting off, cover the bottom half of the wall with thinset mortar and spread it with your notched mortar trowel. Press down hard with your trowel. Make sure it’s clean and even throughout the wall.

Set the bottom row of tile in place starting at the center of the vertical line you drew earlier. Press the tiles into the mortar with spacers between them. Work your way to the sides, cutting the end tiles if you need. If you don’t feel comfortable cutting tile yourself, take it your nearest Home Depot as discussed earlier.

Repeat the above steps for each row. Always use spacers to leave room for grout.

Let the mortar and tile set overnight.

Step 4: Add Grout

Remove the spacers from the mortar. Spread grout over the walls from the top to the bottom, pressing it into the spaces with the grout trowel. Use a damp sponge to clean off any excess grout as soon as possible. Be persistent with cleaning. The grout could harden and stick to your brand new tile.

Grout all lines except the vertical lines along the walls and horizontal lines along the floor.

Let the grout set for 24 hours. Finally, caulk the vertical lines along the wall and the horizontal lines along the floor. Let grout and caulk set for 48 hours before using the shower.

For more guidance on grouting, including its costs, please see our regrouting tile cost estimator.

Shower Tile types

Most of the time, homeowners go with the same tile they already had on their shower wall. Others like a new and refreshed look and end up with a new type of shower tile. The final decision depends on taste and of course, budget.

Nearly any tile type can be applied to a shower wall as long as it’s waterproof, durable and correctly installed. Tile types you can use for your shower wall include:

  • Ceramic Tile
  • Porcelain Tile
  • Stone Tile
  • Metal Tile
  • Glass Tile

While ceramic and porcelain tend to be most popular types of shower tile, stone is starting to gain steam. If you go with stone, there are various options, including:

  • Limestone
  • Slate
  • Marble
  • Travertine
  • Granite
  • Polished Stone

Shower Retile

Tile Costs

Beyond looks, costs generally prove to be the biggest factor in choosing a shower tile.

Ceramic tile is one of the lowest-priced options on the market. Besides being extremely economical, it’s also very popular and comes in all sizes and shapes. Prices range from $0.49/sf of ceramic tile all the way up to $12/sf with the average being closer to $2/sf.

Porcelain tile, on the other hand, is much harder and more durable. While the installation cost is certainly a bit more than ceramic, when analyzing the lifetime value of its cheaper brother, porcelain oftentimes is the logical choice. Porcelain is available in styles that look very similar to natural stone and can be purchased glazed or unglazed.

Stone is a more expensive type of shower tile. As stated above, there are various types of stone tile and all would certainly bring a welcomed upgrade to a dated shower. However, their timeless look doesn’t come without a price. The average price of stone tile ranges between $3/sf and $12/sf.

Finally, while not as prominent as the previous three, metal and glass do have their places in showers across the country. Brushed steel, pewter, bronze and copper are just some of the types of metal wall tile, which can also be mixed with glass tiles for an elegant look. Prices average about $15/sf for metal mosaic tile mixed with glass and about $12/sf for stainless steel tile. Pricier grades of metal wall tile can be as high as $57/sf.

Retile Shower


Retiling is by no means a short process. It takes elbow grease and determination to get the job done right. Wit the proper guide, any motivated homeowner can accomplish the job.

On the other, if you seek professional guidance, click here to speak with a bathroom contractor near you. 

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