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Shower Tile Refresh

Hurrah, we redid the shower tile this summer in my master bath. When we first remodeled the bathroom two summers ago we were in a time and budget crunch. I picked really simple stocked 6" white wall tile and black penny tile for the shower floor. This was after splurging on the Cle Zenith tile I had always wanted for the main bathroom floor. Since then, in the process of installing a couple of shower accent walls for clients with stunning results, I started kicking myself for going so minimal with my own shower.

Examples of client shower accent walls

Guess what I did for my birthday? I treated myself to a shower tile upgrade. Who needs new jewelry or bags when you can have tile? I thought this would be a good opportunity to walk you through the step-by-step of tile installs so you know what to expect in your next bathroom remodel. Lion Builder Construction really helped out by dedicating a few days to my very small project. I knew they could get me the straight lines I was craving from working with them on past bigger installs.

This is what we had. Not bad. Pretty boring though. And I don't love how the white soap residue continually got onto the black grout of the penny tile. Lesson learned there.

Day 1 Demo - Demo happens pretty fast. The existing tile comes off easily and then you are left with a dusty mess in your bathroom that makes you question WHY did you ever think this was a good idea. Note, I didn't touch the plumbing wall tile. No need to open that can of worms.

Day 2 Prep - Repair the walls that got damaged during demo and waterproof them again. Also, another layer of cement over the hot mop of the shower floor to make doubly sure there would be no moisture penetration.

Day 3 Floor Tile - Start with tiling the shower floors. Thin set 1/8" spacers help get the stacked patterned tile in place. I chose the new Cle Tile Liberty glazed thin brick field tile in Bergen. I thought the beige color running on the shower floor, over the bench, and up the wall would be a cool way to break up and soften the crisp black and white graphics of the other tile. I appreciate the subtle texture and digestible price point for this field tile.

Day 4 Accent Wall Tile - The accent cement wall tile goes up next. That way the wall tile sits on the floor tile and the water drains down and off. I chose the Cle Tile New West Pattern 1 tile bcs the linear black and white graphic tile works with the Zenith pattern but has its own flavor. I love how the 8" bottom of each tile lines up with 8" length of the floor tile. The details are key between a good and sloppy tile install.

Day 5 Wall Tile - Now we are getting close to the finish line. Not bad for a week's worth of downtime. You don't want to rush the tile install since you want the straightest lines possible (a laser helps). I also ask for mitered cuts on the tile at sharp corners (versus bullnose trim) so that requires more patience and time to get it looking slick.

Day 6 Grout & Clean Up - Now you can finally grout the precious tile. For any glazed tile, like the Liberty thin brick you can get right into grouting. BUT for the porous and graphic cement tile you cannot forget to seal it first before you grout. I actually ask for this to be done twice or even three times with layers of sealant before the grout or the crisp lines and vibrant colors of the cement tile will get cloudy and you will be very sad. Once you have cleaned up, its time to enjoy the gorgeous new shower.

I'm really happy I added more character and personality to my already very pretty bathroom. In case you wanted to see how it relates to the rest of the room, here is the view from the shower out to the vanity and tub area.

Next up, the kitchen backsplash needs a little spicing up. I have something planned for it this Fall that's just as good.


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