How Long Does It Take to Tile a Shower

Tiling a shower is a common home improvement project that requires planning, skill, and patience. The time it takes to complete this project varies depending on factors such as the size of the shower, the type of tile, and the experience level of the person doing the work.

On average, it takes a professional tile installer approximately 1 to 3 days to tile a standard shower, while a DIYer might need 3 to 7 days to finish the same job. The actual time spent on tiling will depend on the quality of work and attention to detail required for the particular project.

Tools and Materials

In this section, we will discuss the tools and materials necessary for tiling a shower. To ensure a smooth and successful project, it is crucial to have the right tools on hand and understand the required materials.

Tools Needed

When tiling a shower, the following tools are essential:

  • Tape measure
  • Tile cutter – manual or electric
  • Notched trowel
  • Tile spacers
  • Level
  • Grout float
  • Sponge and bucket
  • Rubber gloves

These tools will help ensure precise measurements, proper tile placement, and a professional finish.

Materials Required

Materials required for tiling a shower include:

  1. Shower tiles – ceramic, porcelain, glass, or natural stone
  2. Tile adhesive – thinset mortar
  3. Waterproofing membrane
  4. Grout – sanded or unsanded depending on tile type and joint width
  5. Caulk and/or silicone sealant

It is essential to carefully select the right materials for your type of tile and shower environment. According to the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), the use of a waterproofing membrane is crucial to protect the substrate beneath the tile from moisture damage.

Tile and grout selection may depend on factors such as appearance, durability, and slip resistance. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provides guidelines on choosing the appropriate grout type based on tile material and joint width.

Measuring and Designing

When planning to tile a shower, accurate measuring and thoughtful designing play crucial roles. This includes measuring shower space, choosing tile patterns, and considering factors such as tile size and layout.

Measuring Shower Space

Begin by measuring the width, height, and depth of the shower area. Keep in mind that wall tiles might extend beyond the shower door or curtain, depending on the design. It is important to measure both the wall and floor areas accurately to estimate the number of tiles required. Additionally, consider any potential obstacles such as faucets, showerheads, and soap dishes when planning the layout. Use a tape measure or laser measuring tool to obtain precise measurements.

Choosing Tile Patterns

Tile patterns can dramatically change the final look of the shower. Some popular options include:

  • Horizontal Grid: Classic pattern where tiles are laid in straight rows
  • Vertical Grid: Similar to the horizontal grid, but with tiles running vertically, creating an elongated look
  • Herringbone: Tiles are laid diagonally, forming a V-shape and adding visual interest
  • Running Bond: Also known as a brick pattern, tiles are staggered like bricks in a wall

Considering functionality and aesthetic appeal is essential when selecting a tile pattern. According to a study published by Taylor & Francis Group, herringbone and running bond patterns can provide better slip resistance than standard grid patterns, making them safer choices for shower floors.

When designing the tile layout, consider employing a combination of patterns, such as using grid patterns on walls and herringbone on the floor. This not only creates a visually appealing look but also adds functional benefits to the shower area.

Surface Preparation

Proper surface preparation is a critical step in the tiling process, ensuring a durable and long-lasting finish for your shower. This section outlines essential tasks, such as cleaning and waterproofing, to help you achieve the best results.


Prior to tiling, it’s crucial to thoroughly clean the shower area to eliminate any debris, dirt, and contaminants that may affect the adhesion of your tiles. Follow these steps to prepare the surface:

  • Remove any existing tile, grout, or adhesives from the surface, using a scraper or chisel if necessary.
  • Inspect the substrate for any damage or irregularities, and repair or replace damaged areas as needed.
  • Wipe down the entire surface with a damp cloth, ensuring there is no dust or residue left behind.
  • Allow the area to dry completely before moving on to waterproofing.


Waterproofing is an essential step in shower tiling, protecting your walls and subfloor from water damage and prolonging the lifespan of your tilework. Here’s what you need to know:

Material Description
Waterproof membrane A thin, flexible sheet that’s applied to the shower walls and floor, providing a barrier to prevent water penetration. Common materials include liquid rubber, sheet membranes, and fabric membranes.
Sealant A waterproof adhesive used to seal joints, corners, and edges of the membrane, reinforcing the waterproofing layer and preventing leakage. Silicone and polyurethane sealants are commonly used.

To apply the waterproofing materials, follow these steps:

  1. Prime the surface according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring proper adhesion of the waterproofing layer.
  2. Install the waterproof membrane, carefully following the product’s guidelines and paying close attention to corners, edges, and seams.
  3. Apply sealant to all joints, corners, and edges, smoothing it out to create a tight seal.
  4. Let the waterproofing materials cure for the recommended time, typically 24-48 hours, before beginning the tiling process.

Tiling Process

The tiling process involves several steps that ensure a proper and long-lasting installation. These steps include applying adhesive, laying tiles, cutting tiles, and grouting.

Applying Adhesive

The first step in tiling a shower is to apply an adhesive, commonly known as thin-set mortar. It is crucial to mix the adhesive according to the manufacturer’s instructions and to use a notched trowel for an even application.

Start by applying the adhesive to the wall, working one section at a time. Spread the adhesive evenly using the notched side of the trowel, creating ridges to help the tiles adhere better. Apply a thin layer of adhesive on the back of each tile to ensure good bonding.

Laying Tiles

When laying tiles, begin at the center of the wall and work your way outwards. Place spacers between each tile to maintain consistent spacing, ensuring straight and even grout lines. Check for level and plumb frequently throughout the process, making minor adjustments as necessary.

Cutting Tiles

When you reach the edge of the shower or an obstacle, you will need to cut the tiles to fit. Measure and mark each tile, then use a wet saw or tile cutter for clean cuts. Wear proper eye and ear protection while cutting tiles.


After the tiles have been set and allowed to cure, usually for at least 24 hours, it is time to grout the joints. Mix the grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring the mixture is smooth and consistent.

Use a rubber grout float to firmly press the grout into the joints, working diagonally across the tiles. Once all the joints have been filled, allow the grout to set for about 20 minutes. Then, use a damp sponge to remove any excess grout from the tile faces, being careful not to remove grout from the joints.

Drying Time and Sealing

When tiling a shower, it’s important to consider the time it takes for the tiles to dry and when to apply sealant and caulking to ensure a waterproof finish. This process can vary depending on the materials and techniques used.

Tiling Drying Time

The drying time for tiles depends on the type of adhesive used to bond them to the shower walls or floor. Generally, it takes 24-72 hours for the adhesive to cure and become fully set. However, some quick-set adhesives can be ready to grout in as little as three hours.

It’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time to ensure a strong bond between the tiles and the surface. Rushing the process can lead to loose tiles or weakened adhesion, resulting in potential water damage and costly repairs.


Sealing the tiles helps to protect them from water penetration and staining. Some tiles, such as natural stone or porous materials, require sealing before grouting to avoid damage. On the other hand, some ceramic and porcelain tiles don’t require sealing at all.

Regardless of the material, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on sealing your specific type of tile, and use the recommended sealant type. If required, the sealing process typically occurs after the adhesive has dried but before grouting. This ensures a waterproof barrier between the tile and grout.


Applying caulk to seams and corners creates a watertight seal to prevent water infiltration. The most common type of caulk for showers is silicon-based, as it remains flexible and resists mold and mildew growth.

  • Preparation: Before caulking, ensure that all surfaces are clean, dry, and free of dust or debris. Use a utility knife or scraper to remove old caulk, adhesive, or grout in the areas to be caulked.
  • Application: Apply caulk in a smooth, continuous bead, and smooth it with a caulking tool or a damp finger to press it into the seam and ensure good adhesion.
  • Drying Time: Typically, shower caulking requires around 24 hours to fully dry and cure, but this can vary depending on the brand and product used. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended drying time.

Taking the time to ensure proper drying and sealing when tiling a shower will result in a durable and long-lasting finish that is both functional and visually appealing.

Factors Affecting Tiling Time

When tiling a shower, several factors can impact the time required to complete the project. This section will discuss three primary factors: experience level, tile size, and pattern.

Experience Level

The experience level of the person carrying out the tiling work plays a crucial role in the time taken for tiling a shower. A professional and experienced tiler can complete the project more quickly and efficiently than a novice or an individual attempting a DIY project.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professional tile and marble setters typically complete an apprenticeship, which may require 2-4 years of on-the-job training. Completing such an apprenticeship improves their skillset and efficiency in various installation techniques, leading to faster completion times. On the other hand, a novice might need to consult instructions and seek guidance during the process, which can extend the project’s duration.

Tile Size and Pattern

Different tile sizes and patterns affect the tiling time for a shower project. Smaller tiles may require more time to install due to the need to place and align a higher number of individual units. Larger tiles, although fewer, may also require additional time if the installation area needs to be customized to fit their dimensions.

The choice of pattern also has an impact on the tiling time. Simple and repetitive patterns, such as straight or stack bond, are usually easier and faster to install. On the other hand, more complex patterns, like herringbone or basketweave, can slow down the installation process.

  • Simple patterns – less time-consuming, easier to install
  • Complex patterns – more time-consuming, require careful planning and attention to detail

Additional Factors

Another factor to consider is the surface preparation for the tiling project. Ensuring that the walls and floor are level, clean, and free of debris is essential for a successful and timely tiling job. This step can add to the overall time needed to complete the project.

The chosen adhesive and grout also influence the tiling time. Some adhesives may require a longer curing time before grouting, whereas others allow for a quicker turnaround. Similarly, using rapid-setting grout can accelerate the process, although it might be more challenging to work with for inexperienced tilers.

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