How to Tile a Shower Wall…Subway Tile Tips on a Window Wall — by Home Repair Tutor


In our latest curbless shower project, we
ended up using subway tile. And what made this a little bit challenging is the window.
So in this video we’re going to give you tips on how we started to tile this shower
wall using subway tile up to the bottom of that window.
It was critical to get the first row of tile absolutely level. So we put our laser level
to the top of the tile, and then we used really great latex modified thinset mortar. As you
can see here, we put a dab of it on the wall, and it’s not sagging. This indicates that
it’s mixed properly, and it’s a great thinset.
So we used our directional troweling here. We set our first tile, and we centered it
on the wall in this particular shower. And then we checked every tile to make sure that
the top of the tile lined up with the laser level. And if it didn’t, we had to back
cut it using our angle grinder and diamond blade.
So in this case we’re just making sure that these tiles meet up with the curvature of
the sower pan, and we’re cleaning the grout joints as we go with our brush. So here, we’re
just checking to make sure that these tiles meet up with the laser level. We’re cutting
them with the CGX 115 diamond blade by Montolit, and we’re back buttering these tiles with
the flat side of the trowel. This really helps out with the 95% coverage that we need for
this wet area per the TCNA. So as you can see here, we’re just making
our way across this first row of tile, back cutting them, and making sure that we have
our expansion and contraction joint between those tiles and the shower pan as well. So
again, that’s about 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch. So we’re just getting the measurement for
the last two tiles here that flank either side of this first row, cutting them to size
with the angle grinder, and then back buttering them. You can also use a wet saw, but we just
found that it would be easier to use our angle grinder in this particular case. So we’re
just cleaning the tiles as we go to make sure we don’t have any thinset build-up between
the grout joints. The expansion and contraction joint on the
main wall will be hidden by the tile on the plumbing wall, so we wanted to indicate that.
Now, we’re just centering this tile over top of our first course, and we’re making
sure that it’s absolutely center using our measuring tape and our laser level. And we’re
just adding 1/16 horseshoe shims between every tile so that we have a consistent grout joint.
You can also add the shims on the vertical grout joints, but we didn’t; we just eyed
it up in this particular case. And we’re feeling for any lippage as we go; that’s
really important because you don’t want lippage for these little tiles. And it didn’t
really make sense to use a leveling system. We’re getting the measurement here for the
smaller pieces. And one way that we saved time on this project was batch processing
these little cuts using our DeWALT wet saw, which, by the way, is our favorite wet saw.
And that sped up the process of tiling the first several rows of this subway tile shower.
Again, we’re just continuing with our directional troweling. We’re setting the first tile,
making sure that it’s centered on the previous row. And then we’re going up the wall using
our horseshoe shims to get our consistent grout joint.
So again, this is our methodology. And we did this the entire way up the wall till we
met with the window in the shower. Unfortunately, the window could not be removed, so we had
to work around that, and we’ll give you some tips on how we did the planning.
So again, we’re just making sure that our grout joint is still there between this row
of tile and our plumbing wall. You need to have that expansion and contraction joint.
And we set our laser level on the top course as we went up the wall to make sure that it
continued to stay level. So we’re at our top row here. Just take
a look at what this looks. This just looks like a pretty good position to me because
by the time I put my tile on here, we’ll have almost ¾ of a tile. So that’s a pretty
good position. The large tile will be coming up against here; it’ll look nice. So we’re
going to go ahead and install our bottom plate. Or actually, I take that back. We’re just
going to allow this to stick up past our tile proud of it so that we can apply thinset underneath
it here and fill in the pieces then beat up with our bullnose afterwards. This is all
pretty flat, but it’s just going to be easier to have uniform cut pieces since this is all
level, and just allow enough for thinset. You can always build up your tile on top of
here with additional thinset to come out even with this.
So let’s just make this 2 ½ inches. We’ll make this whole row 2 ½ inches, place our
bullnose, and then fill in our sill afterwards. So we did cut down the height of the tiles
that are directly underneath this window, and that was done so that we could fit the
bullnose in like so. So we just centered the bullnose on that last course of tile, and
we continued to use our horseshoe shims. And the reason why we’re doing our smaller tile
just underneath the window is you won’t really notice the difference when we go outside
the window width. So again, we’re just doing this underneath the bullnose so that we can
make the bullnose look good. Again, we’re just going to make this bullnose
proud and then fill in thinset to make this work. Let me just see where we will be. Yeah,
so we’ll be good here. So we’ll have basically our full tile… we’ll have a pretty good
size tile on our opposite end here aligning with this. So we’ll basically have like
a 2 ½ inch piece going up along here, which will look good. Again, say if this was an
inch, I would just bring this out a little bit further and try to get a bigger piece
against here. But since we’re like with almost a half a tile there, it’s going to
look pretty good. So we’ll just put our laser on our bullnose pieces to make sure
that that stays level. Put it up here. So we’ll basically be just notching this. So
2 ½ inches and then notching down. We always use a laser level. But in particular,
when you’re tiling around a window like this, it’s really important as you can see
here, because it helps that subway tile be level. But also your bullnose be plumb with
the window so that when you’re climbing the wall, you know that your bullnose is going
to continue to stay aligned, and that will give you a consistent spacing on the walls
that flank the windows. So as you can see, we’re just filling in
the rest of the tile on that last row that’s just below the bullnose. We’re going to
be climbing the wall and maintaining that pattern. But again, our bullnose is nice and
plumb, and we just kept our laser on it as we went up along the window edge.
So here, we’re maintaining our pattern. And yes, we have smaller tiles on each side,
but we felt that that didn’t look bad. And as you can see here, we went the entire way
above the window, maintaining that pattern. And we have our bullnose that picture frames
the window. Inside the window, we did have a consistent
grout joint and left about a 1/16 inch between the tile and the window.
We’re really happy with how this curbless shower turned out, obviously. The subway tile’s
a classic look. But overall, that, combined with the frameless glass shower doors really
makes it look great. We’re going to put the rest of the video
showing how we tiled this curbless shower into the Bathroom Repair Tutor video library.
You can click here to check out the video library. It’s really a great resource. And
if you’re redoing a bathroom or you do bathroom remodels, they can be really, really helpful.
Thanks for watching this video, and we’ll see you in the next one.

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Reader Comments

  1. chris simon

    Yes I like that look around the window, however I would not want a window in my shower, but nothing whatsoever to do with your work, good job

  2. cmetube

    A million dollars of tools with laser levels, horsehoe spacers, tile saws, angle grinders to do a job that someone with skill could do without. As if most viewers, DIY'rs, and homeowners could afford all this equipment???????? Really????????????

  3. cmetube

    You show a video with a semi or full professional cutting tile indoors misleading all your viewers about how safe cutting tile is. It's extremely irresponsible, even with face masks. Good luck fighting the irreversible lung cancer that you or any mislead viewer develops from such irresponsible video advice of cutting tile indoors. Silicosis is incredibly common and for some to many people extremely devastating.

  4. K.B. Woodworker

    I have a window in my shower. It goes into a corner. I'm starting to research how to tile it, probably for next spring/summer. The window can't be removed, either. Did you have two laser levels? thanks for the helpful video!

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