How to Tile a Shower with Subway Tile…Plumbing Wall Tips

Hey, guys!
In this video we’re going to show you how to tile a shower wall, specifically the plumbing
wall using 4×12 inch subway tiles. Now, in our prior videos we showed you how to tile
the main shower wall and also tips on how to tile the bench wall. Today we’re going
to be tiling up to the bottom of the shower niche. In our next video, we’re going to
show you some tips on how we tiled that niche using pencil trim and the same subway tile.
So let’s dive into today’s video. So the width of these tile, our bullnose is
going to go straight to the edge of our sill here, so that will be pretty easy to line
up with. And as you can see, I have a little bit of drywall work I’ve got to do. This
is basically the idea of having the backer board setting back a little bit so that I
can try to have my tile overlap the drywall slightly, and that helps me from not having
to finish when I don’t do that. As you can see here, Steve is getting the
center mark on the plumbing wall. So he’s checking from both sides to make sure that
that is correct, and adding it on the WEDI BOARD there with a pencil. And so what we’re
doing here is cutting a little four-inch piece to fit in the corner and also checking the
height as it relates to the laser level. So we actually had to scribe cut the little
four-inch corner piece to meet up square with the main wall, and we’re applying our Ardex
X 77 with directional troweling and adding that small little four-inch piece and cleaning
it off and adding a spacer below it so there’s expansion and contraction between it and the
shower pan and the adjacent wall. So again, we’re using the CGX 115 diamond
blade by Montolit to scribe cut these tiles and make sure that they line up with the laser
level. The other thing that you want to do is back
butter all the subway tiles. We’re shooting for 95% to 100% coverage behind that tile.
And so we’re just continuing to do this for the first row, and we are using the Tuscan
seam clips here. You don’t have to use those; that’s the leveling system that we’re
using. For this little L-cut, again we’re using the diamond blade to cut that, and we’re
leaving a little bit of a gap between that L cut-out and the quartz curb. You definitely
want an expansion and contraction joint there as well. This was a little bit tricky; we
managed to pull it off. And always clean off any thinset that’s above the tile, especially
with the subway tile. As you can see here, it’s a nice tight fit.
So we’ve decided to put this little piece of crown molding just to cap the top. You
have a little bit more flare at the top, you have a little bit more decorative look. What
I want to try to do with my bullnose is to match this piece on my other side of the shower.
I want my bullnose to basically line up and look the same.
So since I am here, I’m just going to measure from the top of my tile to my full piece of
bullnose. So sixty-nine inches to my closest full tile here. So sixty-nine inches to that
full tile, and then I’ll be able to take a bullnose piece and determine where I am
from here. So I’m going to start out with 3 3/8 piece, and that will make my bullnose
line up up there. So again, we’re applying our thinset mortar
to the wall and to the back of the bullnose. Even the bullnose, we want to have 95% to
100% coverage. Those little horseshow shims definitely come
in handy when you’re using the subway tile, and the bullnose there, as you’ll see in
a moment. So again, the second row is very important
as well for a subway tile layout. You want it to be lined up as close as you can so that
you’re stacking them. So Steve is checking here that it’s equal on both sides, and
that our alignment is good before we set the second row of tile. So always just double-check
that that second tile is halfway in between the grout joint of the first row there in
the center. So here we are. We’re setting that second
tile. It’s more of a full tile that’s going to be adjacent to that bullnose tile
that’s going to be the border there. And again, our horseshoe shims come in handy between
the subway tile and the bullnose as we’re stacking them up the wall.
The other tool that comes in handy here, as you can see, is a laser level. We’re just
using a Bosch laser level. You always want to scrape that thinset mortar out when it
oozes between the bullnose and the drywall. You don’t want to leave any thinset residue
on the drywall. So here’s our last tile of that second row.
And you’ll see here that Steve is going to use his little carpet knife to create a
gap there. You always want to leave a little bit of a gap in the corner for expansion and
contraction; we’re going to fill that in with silicone later on.
On this deal here, I’m just going to measure over to my center mark. So we’re about 6
7/8. We applied the painter’s tape to the top of the tile because if helps prevent the
tile from chipping when you cut it. We basically have a 4 ½” deal. Let’s measure up; 5/8”.
Four and 5/8. Two and 5/16. Two and a half, sorry.
This is a funny story. That painter’s tape is sitting there, and it looked to match with
our mixing valve seal. So we used that to kind of help out with the template.
All right, so it kind of gives me a reference. I’m going to be making a little bit bigger
than that, by a quarter inch bigger all the way around.
We used the CGX 115 diamond blade again to make this semi-circle cut into the subway
tile. We like this blade a lot because every single time you use it, due to the diamonds
and how they are arranged on the blade, it actually gets better over time unlike other
blades. If you are interested in that CGX 115 diamond
blade, which is awesome, you can click right here to check it out. That’ll take you back
over to Home Repair Tutor where we did a tutorial on it.
So we continue our semi-circle cut, and what we do is we actually flip over the tile and
you can see there there are cuts in it. We continue the cutting on the other side. Just
a little tip there actually makes things a little bit easier. Always be safe when you
use these tools, though. So we dry fit it, ensure that it fits on the
wall, back butter it with our thinset mortar, and then set it in place. We actually did
use the seam clips on this as well and ensured that the mixing valve trim covered it.
Now we had to cut off a little sliver of the corner of the next subway tile above the mixing
valve. Again, setting it in place and using horseshoe shims to keep our grout joint. And
then outlining or tracing on top of that painter’s tape the other semi cut that we had to make
into the tile. Now in the next video we are going to show
you some tips on how to tile the niche in this subway shower. So make sure you stay
tuned for that. If you are remodeling a bathroom, click right
here to get our free guide; it’s awesome. There are a ton of great tips in there. It
will also help you avoid some bad mistakes. Thanks for watching today’s video. If you
have any questions, please let us know. We’d be more than happy to help you out.
All right, we’ll see you soon. Take care.

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Reader Comments

  1. Scott LaMantia

    Love your videos!! Not sure if this has been addressed, but how does Steve handle covering outside corners with respect to using a tile that is "multi-dimensional"? I know, and have used, the aluminum trim rails, and they work great for flat tile…but I'm curious as to if anything is available for tiles with "waves", etc. in them. Thanks, and keep up the great work!!

  2. Laura S Rockwell

    How do you keep track that your wall remains vertical as you move up. This is critical at the bull nose area if a frameless shower is to be installed. Thanks

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