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Shower Tile Guide

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Types of tile to make your shower shine

It's a great idea for giving the bathroom a fresh look, but installing new tile in the shower requires planning and making the right choices. Whether you turn your DIY warrior loose on the project or call in a pro, it helps to understand how one tile stacks up against another. 


As beautiful as that glazed ceramic looks at the home improvement center, it might be too large or thin for the shower floor. For safety's sake, you need a strong surface that provides traction and small, heavier tiles make a better fit. They provide more grouted area for foot grip, so limit your size choice to no more than 4 inches square. Smaller tiles also make it easier to accommodate the floor's slope around the drain. Check the manufacturer's specifications on the tile box label for information about thickness, water absorption and slip resistance.


Shower walls allow for a much wider range of tile choices, but most homeowners prefer ceramic. It's affordable, durable and easy to clean. Porcelain is a denser type of ceramic and costs a little more, but it's less likely to chip or crack with age. You don't need to worry about the size or thickness of wall tiles. However, keep in mind that smaller tiles expose more grout that needs regular cleaning and maintenance. They're easier to work with if your design includes borders and patterns, but larger tiles make most showers look roomier.

Specialty tiles

If you enjoy luxury touches, consider the natural beauty of quarry or stone tile. These high-end choices require special maintenance, and they're best installed by a professional. However, their designs and textures add a special elegance to shower walls. Mosaic is a better choice for DIY projects because it consists of very small porcelain or glass tiles attached to a mesh backing. This makes installation easier especially in small showers or on curved walls. Upscale floor materials include stone blends with wonderful variegated patterns and pebble tiling that's slip-resistant and comfortable underfoot.


Installing traditional tiling isn't out of reach for an experienced home handyman, but it involves careful planning. You'll need to gut the shower interior, install a cement board backing and lay adhesive. The tile must set for 48 hours before grouting and then cure for another three days. If you're in love with one of the specialty tiles, let someone experienced handle the process. The materials are harder to handle and require special tools that you won't find in the garage.

Once you know your way around bathroom tile, it's easy to make smart choices for the shower. If you have the time and skills, it's a doable DIY project, but most homeowners hire a professional for the job. Whether or not you claim bragging rights, you can count on tile for a beautiful new look in your shower that will last for years.

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