How to Retile a Shower

Sunday 12th, May 2013 / 17:14 Written by
How to Retile a Shower

How to Retile a Shower

If you have outdated or broken tile in your shower, the best way to fix it is to retile it. This job could take two or three weekends, but you’ll have a shower that looks brand new for a fraction of the cost of hiring a contractor. All you have to do is follow this advice.

You’ll need eye protection, a level, a hammer, a chisel, a screwdriver, some large pieces of cardboard, a utility knife, a putty knife, a notched trowel, paint remover, mortar, new tile, tile spacers, grout, and grout sealer.

Remove the Old Tile

First, turn off the water supply to the bathroom, and then remove the faucet, drain cover, and other fixtures with a screwdriver. Spread cardboard over the floor to protect it from falling tiles. Use a putty knife or a utility knife to remove the grout between the old tiles. This will make it much easier to remove the old tile without damaging the wall behind it. Put the putty knife under the tile and pry it up. Use a hammer to tap the back of the putty knife for more force. You can also use a hammer and chisel. This is the most difficult part of retiling a shower. It will also take longer if adhesive was used on the old tile. If adhesive is left on the wall or floor after the old tile is removed, use paint remover to take it off. You may have to chisel some of it off but this is an important step because the new tile needs to stick to a smooth surface. Make any repairs to the shower that might be needed before you lay the new tile.


Tile the Shower

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to mix the mortar, and then use a notched trowel to apply it where the first row of new tile will be placed. The trowel should be notched so the surface of the mortar will be textured and the tile will stay on the wall better. Use a level to mark the location of the first row of tiles. The first row should be on the bottom edge of the wall next to an area without tile, not an inside wall. Put a smooth coat of mortar on the back of a tile and press it against the wall. Then put mortar on the back of the next tile and place it beside the first one. Make sure to leave a gap between the tiles. Since all the other rows depend on this row, let it set for at least four hours before you continue. Make a second row above the first with consistent gaps between the tiles until the shower is complete. Use spacers to make sure the gaps between the tiles are regular and occasionally check with the level to make sure your rows are straight. Unless the top row is an exact fit, it will have to be cut to size. You can rent a wet tile saw or have the tile cut at a hardware store. When all the tiles are in place, remove the spacers and let the mortar dry for 48 hours. Then put grout between the new tiles and let it dry for a few more days. Put grout sealer over the grout to keep water from getting between the tiles, and then let it dry. Remove the cardboard, reinstall the fixtures, and turn the water back on.
This project will be time consuming, but you’ll be able to get an updated shower for much less than using a commercial contractor. You can even use different colors of tile to make a unique pattern. Just make sure to plan what you want to do before you start and enjoy your new shower when you’re done.