Tiling a shower wall with large tiles

Large format tiles are a popular choice for shower walls, creating a sleek and modern look with fewer grout lines. While the installation process is similar to using standard-sized tiles, there are a few key considerations to ensure a successful project.

Planning is Key

Tiling a shower wall with large tiles

  1. Measure Twice, Cut Once: Since large tiles are less forgiving of minor imperfections, meticulous measuring is crucial. Measure your wall space and determine the layout to minimize cuts, especially around fixtures.
  2. Layout Options: Decide on your layout. A full-height stack bond creates a clean, vertical line. Running bond involves staggering the tile joints, offering a more casual feel.
  3. Center Your Vision: Establish a center point on the wall both horizontally and vertically. This will help ensure balanced placement of the larger tiles, particularly around the showerhead or niche.

Prepping the Walls

Surface Matters: Ensure your shower walls are clean, flat, and free of debris. Uneven surfaces will telegraph through large tiles, so address any imperfections with patching compound or sanding.

Waterproof Membrane: Shower walls require a waterproof membrane behind the tiles to prevent moisture from reaching the underlying structure. Consult a professional if unsure about the application process.

Setting the Stage

  • Ledger Board: For large tiles, a ledger board provides a level starting point for the first row. Attach the ledger board securely to the wall at the desired height for the bottom row of tiles.
  • Thin-set Mortar: Use a modified thin-set mortar specifically designed for shower walls. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing and application.

Tiling Techniques

  1. Notch Size Matters: Use a notched trowel with the appropriate notch size for your tile size. The larger the tile, the larger the notch needed to ensure proper thin-set coverage.
  2. Spread and Back Butter: Spread the thin-set mortar onto the wall using the notched trowel. Apply thin-set mortar to the back of the tile (back buttering) to improve adhesion.
  3. Level and Space: Carefully position the tile on the wall, pressing firmly to ensure full contact with the thin-set. Use tile spacers to maintain consistent grout lines.
  4. Work Methodically: It’s recommended to work in sections, laying a few rows at a time. This allows for adjustments before the thin-set cures.

Cutting and Grouting

  • Large Tile, Big Cuts: Cutting large tiles requires a wet saw for clean and precise cuts. Score the tile lightly with a tile scorer before making the final cut with the wet saw.
  • Grouting Expertise: Use a sanded grout suitable for shower applications. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing and application. Apply the grout diagonally across the tiles, filling the joints completely.
  • Cleaning Up: Once the grout has cured slightly, remove excess grout with a damp sponge, rinsing frequently. Buff the tiles with a clean, dry cloth to remove any haze.

Remember: When working with large tiles, a helping hand can be invaluable. For first-time DIYers, consulting with a professional tiler can ensure a beautiful and long-lasting shower wall.


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