How to Retile A Shower Step-by-Step

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One of the most dramatic ways you can improve your bathroom is to put new tiles in your shower. But before you can replace your old or broken tiles, you need step-by-step instructions to guide you through the process.

After replacing many shower floors and walls, I have created a process that makes tile replacement fast and easy.

In this guide, I am going to share my method with you. But before we jump in, let's go over the tools and materials you will require for the job and some basic information on project costs.

What Tools and Materials Do You Need to Retile a Shower?

You are going to need the following basic supplies for this job:

Materials for Retiling a Shower

  • New tiles for your shower
  • Backer board
  • Grout
  • Mortar mix
  • Caulk
  • Paint remover
  • Tile spacers

Tools to Retile a Shower

  • Protective glasses
  • Gloves
  • Hammer
  • Drill or screwdriver
  • Utility knife
  • Putty knife
  • Measuring tape
  • Grout trowel
  • Mortar trowel
  • Circular saw
  • Sponge
  • Wet saw tile cutter
  • Sander

Take note that it is easy to estimate the number of tiles incorrectly. So, after you take your measurements, consider ordering slightly more than you believe you will need.

How Much Does it Cost to Retile Your Shower?

The price for your project depends on two main things:

  • Whether you will be performing the labor yourself or hiring out
  • The tile materials you choose

If you want to keep your materials costs down, handling this job as a DIY project may be the way to go. But if you do not have the expertise, you will want to bring in the pros. A typical price range for the labor is around $600-$800.

You also can save money by going with ceramic tiles. On average, they cost about $2 each. That being said, if you have a tough time controlling humidity levels in your bathroom, you might want to pick a different material. Why? Because mold can build up easily on ceramic tiles.

If you decide against ceramic tile, you can consider tile type options such as porcelain, metal, glass, or stone.

Indeed, stone tiles are a big trend right now. You can expect to pay anywhere from $3 to $12 per stone tile.

repair your tile
Image Credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo

Additional Recommendations for When You Are Choosing Your Tiles for Retiling a Shower

Don't forget that when you are choosing between tile types, you should be thinking about aesthetics as well. What appeals more to you, the look of ceramic tile, or the look of stone tile? Which will complement the design of your bathroom and shower best?

This is also a great time to think about redoing your entire shower if you are not fond of its existing style. Find out how to install a DIY walk-in shower in 11 simple steps.

While you are at it, take a look at your existing shower handle and head as well as the cabinetry in your bathroom. Will your wall tile choices fit perfectly with your existing bathroom components? Either choose tiles that will match your existing style, or consider updating other components.

Steps to Retile a Shower

Now that we have gone over some cost and materials considerations, we are ready to go over the steps to replace your old tiles. Don't forget to put on your safety goggles before you get started.

1. If your existing tiles are in rough shape, you will need to rip them out.

A utility knife or putty knife can get the job done with the aid of a hammer. When you get close to your shower handles and head, you will have to remove those temporarily so you can get at the tiles (use a drill or screwdriver). Take care to avoid damaging your cement board.

Note: You should protect your shower pan when you are removing old tiles. You do not want them to fall and strike the floor, damaging it. Put multiple towels down before you get started, or even some cardboard.


2. Clean up the underlying surface.

There may be some remaining mortar after you remove the tiles. Carefully remove it. Make sure that the surface is even, clean, and completely dry before continuing.

3. Hopefully, your substrate is intact and you can reuse it. But if it is damaged, you might need to remove and replace it as well with new backer board.

Not every type of drywall is appropriate for this moisture-rich environment. Find out which cement board products are suitable in the bathroom.

4. Next, use a notched trowel to apply mortar to the bottom half of the shower wall you want to tile.

Try and get the application as even as possible.

5. Start applying the tiles.

Put tile spacers between the tiles. That way, when you are done, you can add grout. Go one row at a time. Depending on the exact measurements of the tiles and your shower wall, it is possible you will have to cut some of them to get a perfect fit. This might be necessary in corners or where there are cabinets, alcoves, or other features. A wet saw is ideal for this application.

6. Repeat the previous two steps for the top half of each wall.

Apply the mortar, and then the tiles, using tile spacers as you go.

If you are doing the shower floor, you can use the same basic process. That being said, you might want to wait to tackle the floor until after you have put the finishing touches on the tiling on your walls.

7. Take a break.

The mortar will not set immediately. You will need to wait until the next day to proceed. By then, it should be ready.

 8. Each shower tile needs grout between it and its neighbors.

So, remove the spacers before proceeding to the last step.

9. Apply the grout.

To do this step, use a trowel. The easiest way to apply it is to spread it all over the new tile walls. Concentrate on the spaces between them, pushing down with the trowel. That way, the grout will fill in the gap between each shower tile.

Person installing tiles in bathroom

This substance gets hard pretty fast. And you only want the grout to be between the tiles, not on their surfaces. So, as you go, you will need to remove the excess grout as quickly as you can. You can use a damp sponge for this purpose. Some people recommend a wet sponge, but I suggest squeezing it out a bit, as that will make less of a mess.

Grouting the horizontal lines at the floor is not necessary, nor is doing the vertical lines up the walls. Instead of putting grout along these vertical and horizontal lines, you are going to caulk them.

Your grout should set overnight and dry within 24 hours. But it is a good idea not to stand on your freshly tiled floors or run the shower for 72 hours. By then, your caulk should be dry as well. With the grout and caulk set, you will be able to use your newly retiled shower!

Tips and Tricks for Retiling a Shower

That wraps up the basic steps for putting new tile in your shower. But we can offer some additional useful tips to help you out with this home improvement project.

  • Never forget to wash away the residue of your old mortar. Use a scrub brush if you have to. The cleaner you can get the surface, the easier it will be to apply new mortar and tiles.
  • If you are having a hard time getting rid of excess grout after removing the old tiles, an electric grinding tool can make the job easier.
  • Drawing a chalk line can give you guidance for applying new mortar and tiles.
  • After you have applied your grout and let it dry, do not forget to add grout sealer.
  • Take your time with this process. Start gently, and be patient as you learn. However eager you are to get to the final step, it is worth taking the extra time and effort to avoid non-proper retiling. It is a relatively short process, so even if you are taking it slow, your walls and floors should be completed pretty rapidly.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Retile a Shower

Now you know the basic steps for how to retile a shower, but you may still have some questions about retiling in your bathroom.

Q: Can you retile a shower yourself?

A: If you are a motivated homeowner with strong DIY skills, you probably can handle this job on your own. But if you need help, you can always call in a professional.

Q: Can I tile over tile in a shower?

A: Obviously, being able to skip removing the previous tiles before you put in the new one would save a ton of time and hard work. But can you do it? The answer is, “Probably.”

You need a solid, even, structurally sound surface on which to place the new tiles. If that describes your existing tiles, then you should be good to go.

But if the old tile surface is uneven, damaged in any way, or retaining moisture that could lead to mold, you have to rip the tiles out before you put in the new ones.

Q: How long does it take to retile a shower?

A: How long it takes to put in new shower tiles depends on 1-the specifics of the job, and 2-the skill level of the person doing the job.

If you hire a professional or have professional-level skills, it might take about 6-8 hours. But if you are a less experienced DIYer, you might take anywhere from 10-16 hours to finish the task.

Q: Can I use my shower right away after I retile it?

A: No. You should wait around 72 hours so that the grout, caulk, and sealant are dry. Only then should you consider turning on the water.

Now You Are Ready to Retile Your Shower

You now know the basic steps for how to retile a shower, and you have learned more about the tools and materials you will need as well as projected costs for the job. Good luck putting in new tiles. And remember, if you need help with your project, you can always call in a professional.

Dino Paccino

Dino Paccino

Dino is a lifelong writer and home improvement specialist. He enjoys bringing cutting-edge information on home renovation and remodeling to Kitchen Infinity.

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