How to Tile a Shower Wall



Before We Start

I will show you how to tile a shower wall in this article through video and I will also talk you through it. There are a few things that need to be discussed before digging into the project.

If you would like a list of the tools and supplies that you will need and where I get them Click Here. I will also provide links to other articles and videos that may help you.  These links should cover questions you might have and explain things in greater detail.

If there are questions that you can’t find answers to, then please contact me in the comment section below.


1) Cover the Tub

Step 1 of how to tile a shower wall-

I was working on a tile installation that  needed demo done to the walls. This was the first time that ever had to do this and actually, I was still a rookie.  I was trying to avoid taking the step of covering the tub to save time.

I started to do the demo and I was trying to be careful, but a few tile pieces of tile fell into the tub. After the demo was done, I cleaned up my mess. It was then that I noticed there was a lot of tiny dings in the tub!

It costed me several hundred dollars to get it fixed, not to mention how embarrassed I was.  

The point is cover the tub! Even if there is not any demo, I highly recommend that you cover it. Watch this video below and I’ll show you a few tips.



2) Demo the Existing Tile

Step 2 of how to tile a shower wall-

Now it’s time to remove the existing tile. The easiest way to do this is to cut sections of the wall out. This will allow you to carry out the tile and the backer board or sheet rock in panels.

This method is a lot easier when it’ sheet rock, but it can still be done if it’s a cement board.

Watch this video and then we will move on to the next step of  how to tile a shower wall.



3) Install the Cement Board

The next step in how to tile a shower wall is installing the cement board.

Installing the cement board is actually a pretty easy process. the key is to use materials that are easy to use and very reliable.  I use Durock Next Gen.

This stuff cuts EASY! It doesn’t fall apart when you are cutting it either. I use a utility knife to cut it and it is just plain good stuff. You can buy it just about anywhere, so it’s my number one choice.

I really would not accept any imitations.

Check out this video. I will go through the basics of installing cement board.



4) Water Proof Your Shower!

Step 4 of how to tile on a shower wall-

This is a very important step. You do not want to skip this. If anyone tells you you this step can be skipped, I’m here to tell you that person doesn’t have a clue!

Let me ask you this. Why would you put all this money, all this effort and all this time into your project and not do it. 

I know it’s a tub surround and the water doesn’t hit most of the tile. The water also flows down the wall, so why would you need to do this.

I’ll tell you why! If water can find a way, IT WILL!! Moisture always finds a way to destroy. So, just take precaution and do it, you can thank me later.

Here is another quick video of  ” How to Tile a Shower Wall”  that demonstrates how I do this.




5)  Layout the Wall Tile

The fifth step in how to tile a shower wall is not as hard as you might think.

However, This is really a step that you should take your time on.

If you can get this part of the installation right, then the rest will go well. It’s not something to be afraid of though, I will guide you through this and everything will be just fine.

The very first time I installed tile on a shower wall, I just went for it. No lines, no measuring, I really did just did go for it! Well, it was a disaster! The good old days of being a rookie.

Now it’s been many years since then and I’ve learned lot’s. Yeah, a lot of it was the hard way, but for me it was the best way!

You definitely want to do some measuring and yes we will be snapping some lines with a chalk line. Get your level, tape measure, chalk line and pencil and let’s get going.


 Layout Part 1 and Part 2





6) Cutting and Installing the tile

Now that the layout is done, it’s time to start cutting and installing the tile.  This is where all the hard work that you have done will payoff. 

You now have the lines to help keep the tile straight and to guide you while measuring the tile cuts.

You will need  spacers and wedges together to keep the tile straight. Just follow the lines that you have snapped on the walls. These are what you will adjust your tile to. It will keep them level and straight the entire installation.

I also want you to take notice of the thin set. Watch how I spread it on the wall and also notice how my thin set isn’t too dry(thick). This is very important so you do not have any tile failure because the thin set was not mixed correctly.


This is another exclusive video to members ONLY!



7) Grouting

We are now at the last step of how to tile a shower wall. Grouting the wall tile is really a messy job, so make sure that still have the tub covered in this step.

Grouting the walls is a slow going process. I would only mix a half bag of grout at a time. It can harden in the bucket pretty quick, so this will help not wasting any.

You never want to add more water to the grout after your original mixing is done. Adding water can change the color and it can harden even faster after you are done remixing it.

What you can do is this, keep mixing the grout with a margin trowel every five minutes. This will help keep it loosened up in the bucket.

You can mix it with a margin trowel by hand to loosen it up.



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  1. Joe, I appreciate your videos big time . Praise God for them. I’m doing tile in a shower for the first time instead of putting in a fiberglass surround. The video on waterproofing your shower shows the walls where it looks like you “skim coated” the cement board. I just installed the hardoebacker cement board, and was wondering if I should skim coat the board with mortar or something else before tiling, or go ahead and tile it all. Your thoughts? Is there a video on skim coating your walls like it looks like you already did?
    Thanks, Jay

    • I skimmed that wall to flatten it. I have a ton of videos in Tile University that will walk you through everything.

  2. Great video, Joe. I have the durock installed and I have a 1/4″ gap above the shower base (marbelite, I think). I want to use a membrane, but I also need to fill that gap with silicone. Should the silicone be applied before or after the Hydroban? That joint will be hidden by a granite sill around the shower base, and then tile will be applied above that.

    • Thank you glad it helped. I would apply the membrane first then silicone.

  3. Really in-depth you cant find videos like this anymore. Youtube is filled with the 10 minute tutorial at one point in the install. I’m a handy guy and have done alot of reno’s on my own. You took it right from planing to completion. Which is amazing and appreciated. A quick question to do with the vertical spacing, the layout you keep with the lines and I understand that in the video. But when eyeballing it how do you make sure a tile isn’t a big gap on row#1 and the row above it the gap could get bigger or smaller. Or the gap goes from thick to thin. Are you saying from a visual aspect this does not matter? I did my own tiling as well and thats how mine turned out. Only part I forgot was the curb slope – Doh! Anyways now onto washroom-2. I also dont understand the bottom of your tub is the tub already fitted with a double tiling flange? Some of the videos have broken links.

    Thanks Joe!

    • Mike, Great questions and thanks for feedback. I am not saying the joint sizes do not matter. I use a grid because tile is almost never the same exact size. I build the grid so there are four tiles that fit into one square. I follow the main lines with two tiles and then adjust the other two tiles to to line up the best that they can be. I try to keep the joints as consistent as possible. If you use spacers you will almost always have the tile not line up because they are not exact in size. The flange that is on this particular tub was designed this way, I didn’t add anything to it. I just set my cement board on top and then filled in the gap with a membrane first, then thin set. The membrane served a few purposes-

      -it waterproofed it
      -it will stop the thin set from cracking
      -it also will act as a cushion so there will not be any noise from walking in the tub if there is movement.

  4. I really appreciate ur help I’m do to tile a shower wall 2mar n I would like to know y it’s important to not use green board instead cement board. . Also I would like to know how can I retrieve ur cheat sheet n any other tips n guide u may have 4 me…

    Thank u n advance..
    Peace n blessings

    Also on Facebook (nate hardy)

    Thanks Again

    • Nate,
      I am not using green board it is a green waterproofing membrane over cement board! It is called Hydro Ban. Also you can get access to creating a cheat sheet through Tile University. I also send out Tips and Guides and you can subscribe free to those when you dowload My Project Planner. There is a link in the sidebar on any page.
      Please let me know if I can help with anything!!

      Thanks, Nate

  5. Thanks Joe for getting back to me so quickly.

    Would you recommend putting the tape on first over the metal and wallboard then applying the thin set or apply some thin set first and then tape over that.

    Also just to clarify since the gap is a 1/4 inch deep and one inch wide from wall board to the top of the tub I should not try to fill
    it in one coat.

    Thanks again


    • Mike,
      You can fill it after the cement board is installed. Apply the mesh tape and thin set. You should be able to get that in one coat, but it could take two. Thanks for the great questions.

  6. Hi Joe.

    I have been following your videos and I think they are very helpful. I have learned a lot. My problem is the same a Omar’s. I have installed a metal tub and I have a one inch area the needs to be filled. Do tape this area with joint tape area and fill it with thin set? Please let me know. I will send you a picture at the above email address.

    Thanks in advance


    • Mike,
      Yes, I would tape and fill that joint with thin set. I seen the picture that you sent me and your work looks good. Thanks for the question and I’m glad the videos are helping.

  7. Joe these videos are great. In your video you stopped the cement board above the lip of the tub. I am installing a shower pan with a very same lip. If I stop the cement board above the lip how do I continue the tile? Do I apply mortar to the cement board and leave the 1″ area of tile at the lip not attached to anything? I have not been able to solve this problem and your video is the only one that talked about it where you say to fill it in but I’m not sure how that area is filled in. Thanks

    • Omar, can you send a picture to me? You can email it to me at

      I stopped the cement board at the top of the lip. Then the lip and cement board were flush. I then ran the tile to the tub(the bottom of the lip). My video installing and cutting tile shows the lip right before I install the bottom row.

  8. Joe, what is the black backing before you put on the cement board? Do you have to do that part?
    If so, what it is (product name would be great!)? thanks

    • That is tar paper and no it is not something you have to do. I used the tar paper for a better background during filming. However tar paper can be used used as an extra precaution in this situation. You would seal the seams and along the lip of the tub with a sealant.

      • Okay great thank you!

        • No problem. Thanks for the great question. Let me know if you need help with anything else.

          • We are taking down our green board now and putting up the cement board after watching this video and reading other reviews of green board online. Why does home depot even sell that stuff?? Also, the Laticrete product you used isn’t sold at home depot or lowe’s, but I went to their web site and found a re-seller in my area. I know they sell Red Guard at home depot, but you prefer Laticrete. The fact that they don’t sell it at home depot actually makes it seem like a better product!

            To seal the seams over the cement board do you just use regular joint compound thin set with paper tape or mesh tape?

            thanks again

          • I agree with your comment on the green board. To be honest I think it is wise to always install over cement board. I have used Hydroban for years and have never had a failure with it and I just don’t trust Red Guard.

            You must use a fiberglass mesh tape. Only fill the beveled joints with thin set. I always tape and hydroban the cross seams(unbeveled seams). If it is on the floor than I tape the cross seams as I’m installing the tile. Because there isn’t a beveled edge, it can cause a hump when you fill it.

          • great thank you!

  9. Lori, You can tile over the lip/flange on the tub. There are a few steps to take before doing this.

    1) fill in the gap between the cement board and the lip with either silicone or Hydroban(paintable waterproof membrane)
    2)Paint the lip/flange with the Hydroban and stop at the bottom where it begins to curve(this will be covered with tile)
    3) now you can cover it completely with tile and be sure to leave an 1/8 inch gap between the tub and tile and caulk that gap when the installation is complete.

    Using the hydroban on the flange will allow movement so the tile will not crack. Hydroban is also a crack isolater. Also it will waterproof it.

    You will need to bevel the back edge of the tile using an angle grinder. This will let the tile clear the curved edge that is at the bottom of the flange.Then the tile will be able to sit flush with the tub although you will need to raise it 1/8 of an inch for an expansion gap!

    Let me know if I can answer anymore questions for you.

    • Thanks Joe now I get it. I really appreciate all of your help!


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