How to Retile a Shower Floor (Easy Step-By-Step Guide)

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how to retile a shower floor

Your shower floor may not seem like it’s that important, but it’s a key element of bathroom design. 

A nicely laid out and designed shower floor can be a wonderful accent piece. By retiling your own shower floor, you can create something unique and beautiful that will tie the bathroom together. 

In this article, we have provided a step-by-step guide on the process to help you get started.

By following these steps, you can focus on the pattern and design you want to implement. This can allow you to create a more stylized and personal look in your bathroom.

Retiling a Shower Floor: Basic Idea

While the task may seem daunting, it is actually quite simple and easy to do. To retile your shower floor, you will want to: 

  • Remove all the old tiles
  • Check your shower’s floor base
  • Apply thin-set mortar
  • Install new tiles in a pattern of your choosing 

How to Tell When it is Time to Retile a Shower Floor

time to retile a shower floor

If you are deciding it is time to retile your shower floor, the odds are it has begun to deteriorate. It could also be that you are redecorating the entire bathroom and want a change in the shower as well. 

If the tiles in your shower are old, they may have chips and cracks in them. This can happen from dropping heavy objects or years of regular use. 

You will also want to retile your shower if you notice any cracking in the mortar. This can allow water down into the waterproof membrane. 

When water gets under the tile, it can create mold and deterioration that can lead to serious structural issues. 

If you are remodeling your entire bathroom, the shower tiling is a great place to add a unique design element. This is especially true if you have glass shower doors and the floor can be seen from the rest of the bathroom. 

No matter the reason, retiling your shower floor is easier than it appears to be if you follow these steps. 

Remove the Old Tiles

With a small, flat pry bar, get underneath one of the tiles and pry it up from the adhesive. Once you get one tile up, it will be easier to get purchase on the rest of them. 

Pull up all the tiles that you want to replace as gently as you can. Try to get as much of the adhesive that is holding them to the floor as well. 

For any tiles that don’t want to come up easily, use a ball-peen hammer to tap the pry bar under them. 

The larger the pieces of tile you pull up are, the easier they will be to remove. If you don’t have a lot of small pieces of tile and adhesive to pry up, the job will go a lot quicker. 

Check the Floor Base

Once you have all the tiles removed from the shower floor, you will want to inspect the floor base. 

Your floor base will be covered with a water-proof membrane that protects the wooden flooring underneath. It is very important that this membrane is left intact after you have removed the tiles. 

Any little hole or puncture will allow water to seep into the wooden flooring and create mold. In severe cases, it can even deteriorate the floor and cause serious structural problems. 

Go over every inch of the water-proof membrane to check for damage. Should you find any, you will have to either replace it or patch it. 

Lay Down Thin-set Mortar

If your membrane is undamaged, you can sweep and clear the floor of any debris. Once you have done this, you are ready to lay down the thin-set mortar. 

Thin-set mortar is a special type of adhesive that allows tile or stone to bond with the water-proof material. 

Lay down the mortar using a u-notch trowel. Spread it along the trowel and scrape it up and down the length of the shower floor. 

The specialized notches will give you a nice, even coat that is perfect for laying tile onto. Be sure to not use too much or you will have a lot of excess when installing the individual pieces. 

Apply the mortar one line at a time, then install the tiles, then move on to the next line. Do not spread it out over the whole floor because it will begin to set before the tiles are installed. 

Install the New Tiles

install the new tiles

It is best to figure out a design for your shower floor before you begin laying the tile down. 

Once you have a design picked out, you will need to get a tile spacer to help you install the tiles evenly. Take special care to make them as straight as you possibly can. 

Once you have installed all the tiles, apply grout into the spaces between them. This will prevent water from getting down under them and growing mold and mildew. 

F.A.Q. 

faq how to retile shower floor

  • What is the difference between a shower pan and a shower base?

A shower pan is the part of the flooring that you step on. A shower base is the flooring underneath the shower floor and water-proof membrane. 

Both protect the wood under the floor, but depending on your situation, one may be better than the other. 

  • What type of tile is best for a shower floor?

Mosaic tiles are the best choice for installation on a shower floor. 

Mosaic tiles are small and versatile as well as durable. Also, they can adapt to the angles of any shower flooring. 

  • How do you fix low tile in a shower floor?

Unfortunately, if you have a low spot on your shower floor, the tile will have to be removed. 

Low spots can cause deterioration due to pooling of water. If you do not replace the tile and make it even, you could end up with damaged flooring underneath it. 

Conclusion

Retiling a shower floor seems like a complex task, but it can be well worth the trouble. 

With just a little bit of time and effort, you can give your bathroom a whole new look. Plus, you can ensure that your shower floor is protected from water damage and deterioration in the process. 

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AUTHOR

Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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