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Bathrooms are spaces that commonly require special care to keep them bright and shiny. Due to the humidity that accumulates in these areas, both the furniture and the elements that cover the walls and the floor can be damaged over time. A place prone to this is the shower. If you think the time has come to update its look, you must keep the tiles, but before replacing them, you must prepare the walls. If you want to save money and do the project yourself, then you need to know how to prepare shower walls for tiles.

Making a waterproofing shower wall depends on the initial installation being adequate. If the base coat is defective, you will be at risk of the water penetrating the cracks and damaging the integrity of the wall.

Stevenson-by-TAS-Construction How to prepare shower walls for tile (Easy to follow guide)
Image source: TAS Construction

Precisely, bathroom walls are made with tiles to avoid humidity, but even this can be a problem in faulty construction. When it comes to showers, then you have to take extra precautions.

With the following guide, you will appreciate how easy it is to make the necessary preparations in the shower to replace the tiles. We guarantee that even someone who is just starting in the construction world can learn this project.

Solid cement board required

cement-board1 How to prepare shower walls for tile (Easy to follow guide)

If you’ve seen drywall installation before, you should know that the process is slightly different when it comes to tile. The internal walls that cover a house do not require a special waterproofing to prevent moisture, but this is a necessary process when it comes to the shower wall.

This is where the cement base comes in. This support is the way to waterproofing shower walls before tiling. The cement provides a layer on which to install the tiles firmly.

To save material, you can limit yourself to building this cement backing exclusively where water will fall. Make sure that the support has a thickness identical to that of the drywall so that the installation is smooth and without imperfections.

After this, the process for laying the tiles is the same as if they were drywall.

Read this before you start

cement-board2 How to prepare shower walls for tile (Easy to follow guide)

You should know about how to prepare shower walls for tile that you are faced with a meticulous task that requires exact measurements. The cement board must be cut to the exact size to fit on the wall. For this, it is recommended to use a jigsaw.

This support has to be secured to the structure of your home so that it does not move. Cement can be bolted to wood with the use of concrete screws.

wall-board1 How to prepare shower walls for tile (Easy to follow guide)

Other dimensions to be monitored are those of the mortar. This element that makes up the tile wall will determine the amount of material you need for the project.

Installation of the concrete support

cover-with-panel How to prepare shower walls for tile (Easy to follow guide)

Using multiple plastic sheets, cover the wall studs to obtain a support on which to install the cement panels. Using a knife or razor, cut the plastic sheeting so that it is the correct size. The idea is that the plastic covers the shower tray and goes beyond the flanges on the wall.

To fix them on the frame, use wood staples. These should work even for multiple overlapping plastic layers.

You will now proceed with the installation of the concrete panels. Measure the space on the wall so you can cut them before placing them. Install it directly on the studs, like drywall.

measure How to prepare shower walls for tile (Easy to follow guide)

Two concrete sheets are required at the edges of the vertical studs, so you must divide the structure into two sections.

Continue the process by securing the concrete to the structure using the concrete screws. These should be placed on the structure’s studs so that they do not present problems, such as deformities.

Now you must cover the board’s joints using mortar and a strip of fiberglass mesh tape. Again, you can save material by not covering the end of the shower tray. Similarly, try to make the material smooth when you apply it so that there are no lumps to install the tiles.

cement-board How to prepare shower walls for tile (Easy to follow guide)

If there is a gap between the board and the cement support, cover it with more tape and mortar. Avoid leaving open spaces where water could leak.

Now that you know what goes behind shower walls, you can have a better understanding of the materials you need. Although in the guide we say that it requires concrete boards, the reality is that you can change them as long as the material you use is water-resistant.

You can even install two protective layers before the plaster wall so that water must filter three sheets before reaching the structure. This will depend on your needs and if you have the necessary budget.

Waterproof membrane for shower walls

membrane How to prepare shower walls for tile (Easy to follow guide)

In addition to the concrete sheets that give a support to the wall, you must put a waterproof membrane that, ironically, has to protect the concrete. Although the cement is water-resistant, it does not prevent it from leaking, so it will be damaged if a protective membrane is not placed.

Although only the installation of a waterproof membrane is necessary, you can also install one that retains steam, but this can be behind the concrete boards as a preventive measure.

Install the waterproof membrane

martar How to prepare shower walls for tile (Easy to follow guide)

The next step in how to prepare shower walls for tile includes cleaning the concrete sheets to lay the membrane. Using a damp sponge, clean the board without exceeding the amount of water used.

Now apply a mortar layer over the entire surface using a trowel. With the notched side of the trowel, level the mortar so that it is smooth and even in thickness.

Take advantage of the fact that the mortar is wet to place the protective membrane. Cut an X over the membrane so that the shower valve can pass.

With the trowel, crush the membrane to remove any remaining air bubbles. Repeat these steps until the membrane protects the entire concrete support.

membrane-2 How to prepare shower walls for tile (Easy to follow guide)

The next step in preparing shower walls for tile is to spread the mortar across all corners of the vertical wall. The use of a 10-inch drywall knife is recommended for this task.

Crinkle a 4-inch-wide membrane strip and insert it into the mortar. Do this with the other corners, and remember to smooth them out.

Now you must mark where the drain will be located on the floor; for this simply place the shower tray and with a pencil make a mark. Now, using an electric drill cut the drain hole. By regulation, these types of drains need a minimum diameter of 4 inches for the waste.

Proceed to apply a mortar layer on the ground, and rake it with the serrated part of the trowel. This mortar will work to bond the shower tray to the drain. To adhere to it properly, you will need to walk on it, applying the necessary force.

ground-martar How to prepare shower walls for tile (Easy to follow guide)

Apply mortar to the inside corners of the shower tray. Again, lay membrane strips and smooth them out.

As in the rest of the “how to prepare shower walls for tile” process, you will need to waterproof the seams between the walls and the floor so that the water does not leak.

To finish the waterproofing, cover the drain hole with mortar and adhere it to the corresponding space.

Apply a mortar layer all over the floor and lay a membrane layer on it. This will make the floor tiles have a protective layer. Install the preformed curb, use mortar to stick it, and lay a waterproof membrane strip.

It is tile time

tile How to prepare shower walls for tile (Easy to follow guide)

This is all you need to know about how to prepare shower walls for tile. The process becomes repetitive as you go, making it a chore that can become heavy but is necessary for optimal tile installation.

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