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Stone, Ceramic or Porcelain Shower Tile – Which is Best?

by Steve

In this post I’m going to show you what type of tile (ceramic or porcelain or stone) is the best choice for your shower walls & shower base, and why.

This is Steve from SKG Renovations (Steve’s Bio) with one of three new additions to my Redblock shower remodel series, entirely dedicated to shower tile and shower tile installation.

I have installed a lot of tile over the years and from this experience I have compiled a list of little known facts and advice to help you choose your tile with confidence.

So let’s get into it!

Topics Covered:

Ceramic vs Porcelain Tile

The Main Difference

Porcelain and Ceramic Density

Ceramic Tile Permeability Problem

Use a Bonding Agent

Varying Sizes of Ceramic Tile

Advantage of Ceramic Tile

Ceramic Tile – The Bottom Line

Stone Tile

Marble Tiles & Travertine Tiles

Granite Shower Tiles

Pebble Mosaic Tiles

Quartz Tiles

Stone Sealer

Shower Base Tile vs Shower Wall Tile

Mosaics on the Shower Base

Larger Format Tiles for Shower Floor

Ceramic or Porcelain Tile – Which is best for showers?

Porcelain tile is the best tile for showers in my opinion. They can be as attractive as any other type of tile but they have the added advantages of high density and low moisture permeability. These are important factors when shower wall waterproofing is a priority.

In my humble opinion, a porcelain tile shower is generally better than a ceramic tile shower, but there are benefits to using ceramic over porcelain.

Below I will compare these two types of tile, assuming that they are being installed into an area of constant water immersion…….. in other words, a fish pond you plan to build in your backyard (just kidding), or a shower (much more common).

The Main Difference

In a word, the primary difference between porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles is density. The more dense a tile, the less permeable it is to water (more on that later), and the more load stress it can handle.

Porcelain and Ceramic Density

As mentioned above, the decision about ceramic tile or porcelain tile is all about material density and water absorption.

Ceramic and porcelain tile are both made primarily of clay and water. The difference is that sand and feldspar are also included in the mix when making porcelain tile.

When a porcelain tile is fired (cured) at high temperature (up to 2300 F), these two extra ingredients fuse together with the clay, creating a material that resembles glass. This process increases the density of porcelain tile significantly, compared with ceramic tile.

All tiles are rated according to their water absorption (or degree of vitreosity), so it’s important to clarify where ceramic and porcelain tiles fit into this rating system.

Non-vitreous: A tile with a water absorption rating of 7.0 percent. This is a low density ceramic tile, but there are actually lower density tiles out there, with water absorption greater than 10%.

Semi-vitreous: A tile with a water absorption rating between 3.0 percent and 7.0 percent. This is a medium density ceramic tile.

Vitreous: A tile with a water absorption rating between 0.5 percent and 3.0 percent.

Until around 2010, “vitreous” tile was considered to have the lowest water absorption, but the TCNA changed their porcelain definition to include only tile with water absorption less than 0.5% . This has always been confusing because most people “in this business” believe that vitreous tiles are synonymous with porcelain tiles.

Impervious or Fully Vitrified: A tile with a water absorption rating less than 0.5 percent.

According to the Tile Council of North America, this is the only group of tiles that can be called “porcelain tiles”.

Ceramic Tile Water Absorption

If you’re considering a lower density ceramic tile in your shower, you should not only be concerned about how permeable its surface is to moisture, but also it’s back side (bonding surface). This can be a big problem when you’re building a tiled shower.

When you’re setting tile, the hydration of the mortar beneath your tile is extremely important for secure bonding to the substrate, and strength after setting.

Unlike porcelain tile, lower density ceramic tile absorbs water (hygroscopic), so it tends to remove the water from the layer of mortar just beneath the tile (the bonding layer). This reduces the mortar’s ability to set properly and bond to the tile. The lower the density of the ceramic tile, the bigger this problem becomes.

This also causes the mortar to become stiff and brittle, making it difficult to move the tiles immediately after placement. Nothing’s worse than your tiles being stuck in place after being set into the tile mortar…. not being able to adjust them at all because the mortar is too dry and stiff.

A terrible situation all around if you’ve ever experienced it. And because of the poor bonding, your ceramic tiles can eventually delaminate over time.

Use a Bonding Agent

If you plan to install a lower density ceramic tile in the shower, a simple solution to the permeability problem is to apply a bonding agent to the unglazed back of the tile.

This will partially “seal” the ceramic, allowing the back of the tile to absorb only a small amount of moisture from the mortar.

This allows for perfect tile adhesion, perfect tile mobility, perfect bonding, and perfect mortar setting. A lot of extra work, but definitely worth it.

Wetting Instead of Bonding?

Some contractors prefer to just wet the back of the tile with a sponge and water before setting it into the mortar. I do not recommend this.

One of the problems with tile wetting is that you must do it while you are in the middle of laying your tiles. This adds another time consuming step to an already very hectic tile installation process.

There is also a very real risk of wetting it too much. If it gets too wet, the mortar will also not bond properly.

If you are using modified mortar, the risk of delamination is a fair bit lower but I would still highly recommend pre bonding.

Varying Sizes of Ceramic Tile

In the debate over ceramic or porcelain tile, varying tile size is another strike against ceramic tile in the shower in my opinion. Ceramic tiles can vary in size significantly, even within the same box.

I have noticed this problem with both ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles, but it seems to be a bigger problem with ceramics. The problem is also more pronounced between different boxes, even if they belong to the same tile lot.

WARNING: In my experience, I have found that the lower the tile cost, the more exaggerated this problem becomes.

I have actually spent many hours measuring and sorting through tiles so that I can alternate rows of smaller and larger tiles on a shower wall. This is often the only way to keep rows of tiles uniform and symmetrical.

If your ceramic tiles vary too much in size, and you’re using a fixed size tile spacer, your grout lines will drift out of level and out of alignment.

I talk more about tile drift in my Tile laying post.

Advantage of Ceramic Tile

It’s time that I balanced the scales a bit on the question of Ceramic or Porcelain Tile.

I’ve made it pretty clear that I have a slight bias against ceramic tile…. 🙂 , but I must admit that ceramic tile is much easier tile to work with, especially if you don’t have access to a tile saw and you’re using a standard scoring type tile cutter.

Because ceramic is so much softer than porcelain (less dense), it can be a breeze to cut with a tile saw or a standard tile cutter. Everything about cutting tile is more difficult with porcelain tile.

And because you can quite easily shape your cuts with tile shaping hand tools, your rounded corners can  be made to look perfect without the need for an electric cutting or grinding tool. My diamond file is my best friend when I’m cutting the valve openings in a ceramic tile shower wall.

Ceramic Tile – The Bottom Line

After all I have said about the deficiencies of ceramic tile, most of these can be managed with the strategies I have mentioned except one, the permeability problem.

The main problem that I have with ceramic tile is that the shower wall is always going to be exposed to vast amounts of moisture, regularly throughout the life of your shower.

The more permeable a tile is, the more work the shower wall waterproofing membrane has to do to keep moisture from getting behind the shower wall.

This is not necessarily a terrible thing if your membrane is great and you live in a relatively mild climate.

But if you have a shower wall waterproofing membrane with a poor perm rating, and you live in an area with more extreme temperature variations throughout the year, the permeability of your ceramic tile becomes an issue.

Of course there are other measures like increasing your outside wall insulation that can lessen this risk, but the risk is simply higher with ceramic tile vs porcelain tile.

So the bottom line is….

Because moisture can permeate a ceramic tile, there is a risk of condensation and mold growth behind the tile and eventual tile delamination if mounted on an outside wall.

And if there is no shower wall waterproofing membrane present this scenario only gets worse, as moisture condenses within the tile backer board or within the stud wall cavity.

Porcelain tile has a clear advantage over ceramic tile in the shower but you must weigh the risks and decide for yourself.

Stone Tile

One way to eliminate the ceramic or porcelain tile question is to skip both these options and go with natural stone or quartz stone tiles instead.

Natural stone tiles are quite popular in the bathroom and in the shower, but they can be tricky to handle, install, and maintain. So if you want these tiles in your shower, there are a few things you should know.

Stone tiles can include marble tiles, slate tiles, travertine tiles, granite tiles, pebble stone tiles, engineered quartz tiles and a few other less common stones.

A huge benefit of these tiles over ceramic or porcelain tiles is simply that their color is the same throughout the tile. That means that there may be no need to install tile edging, as long as your cuts are clean and you are willing to do a little edge finishing.

Any of these tiles are dense enough to be used on the shower walls or shower base…… with conditions.

Marble Tiles & Travertine Tiles

Marble tiles are by far the most popular natural stone tiles chosen for the bathroom and shower. I’m guessing that because of it’s extensive use throughout history, it’s become an important part of classic bathroom styling (so I’ve heard… 🙂 .

Anyways….. both marble and travertine tiles are sedimentary rock, which means they are quite soft and porous, travertine being the softer and more porous of the two.

They are also both made from carbonate rock so they are very sensitive to acids of all kinds.

So what does this mean to you, you’re wondering? It means that they must be sealed with a good stone sealer!

I routinely use Aqua Mix Sealers Choice Gold,

Because these stones are relatively soft, it also means that they can wear unpredictably over time.

It can also mean that the color and finish of marble tiles and travertine tiles can be altered or damaged with exposure to acids or organic stains. This damage can be mitigated but not eliminated by regular maintenance.

Is it worth it?

If you install either marble tiles or travertine tiles in your shower, you should thoroughly clean and dry out your shower a couple of times a year to apply a new coat of stone sealer.

Even if you do seal these tiles regularly, you must be ok with the possibility of damage from soaps and other personal care liquids that may pool on the stone surface. Many of these liquids are acidic enough to damage the finish, or cause staining on marble or travertine tile.

And if you are unlucky enough to use a some of the many household cleaners that are not suitable for travertine and marble, you may end up damaging the surface instead of cleaning it.

It is also fairly easy to chip, scratch or mark their surface permanently. All it takes is to drop something solid, sharp or heavy near the edge of one of these tiles to cause a chip or compression mark.

After all that, I still love the look of a marble tile shower…… just not quite enough to install it in my own shower. A bit too much work for me. 🙂

All of a sudden ceramic or porcelain tile doesn’t sound so bad does it?  I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s worth it.

Granite Shower Tiles

Granite tiles are extremely dense so they can be used anywhere in your shower. They are also pretty much worry free when it comes to cleaning and maintenance.

I regularly see the advice that granite needs to be sealed regularly, much like marble. Like I’ve said before, I’m not a scientist, but I can tell you that granite is not porous and does not require sealing …. Period.

Granite has fissures and pits in it’s surface that can accumulate material so it may look like it’s staining but it will not absorb liquids, so it cannot stain.

To clean granite, you simply have to remove or bleach the material in the fissures.

Oxi-Clean powder dissolved in water and sprayed on the surface, works great for this purpose. Let it rest for about 10 minutes and then wipe clean with a good microfiber rag (also works great for grout lines).

Pebble Mosaic Tiles

Pebble stone tile shower floors are very unique and compelling but there are some risks associated with them.

This type of mosaic tile is most often made out of granite pebbles glued to a mesh sheet or matt, but they can also be made out of small marble, travertine or sandstone pebbles.

If the pebbles in the mosaic matt are granite then these tiles do not need to be sealed, unless you are using a unsealed cementitious grout. In this case the grout would obviously need to be sealed.

If the pebble mosaic tiles are made of sedimentary rock, then they would definitely need to be sealed the same as you would for marble tiles and travertine tiles.

Installing these pebble mosaic tile sheets in the shower can also be a problem if the mesh sheet that the pebbles are mounted on is not rated for use in the shower.

Most of these mosaic pebble tile matts are specifically made for installation on the base of the shower however, I am aware of some cheaper products out there using paper based matts and inferior glues.

Because this is a risk you cannot afford, you should be sure to ask for the specs on any mosaic tile sheet product you intend to buy and install in your shower.

Foam Shower Base Problem

Because these tiles are composed of small pebbles, they share the same disadvantage of all small mosaic tiles when it comes to installing them on a foam shower base.

As I talked about in my shower tiling post, the downward pressure applied from someone walking on larger format tiles is distributed across the entire tile.

On a mosaic tile, this same downward force is focussed on an individual tile or a small group of tiles making the point source pressure extremely high.

This can be a problem with foam shower bases because they can be damaged by point source compression. The cement coated foam shower bases being a possible exception to this rule.

See my Shower Tile Installation post for more info about mosaic tile installation.

Quartz Tiles

Since quartz or “engineered stone” became so popular for kitchen counter tops, there has been an increase in the production of tiles made out of this material for use in the bathroom and shower.

If you have thought about using these quartz tiles in your shower remodel, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Installation of these tiles is very similar to any other natural stone tile and their maintenance is quite similar to that of granite tiles.

Quartz tiles are not quite as hard as natural granite but this difference is not really important when it comes to installing them in the shower. Both quartz and granite are very hard and essentially non porous.

The benefit that quartz tile has over granite is that it’s manufactured under controlled conditions so it’s quartz surface is smooth and uniform. This makes it super easy to clean.

Granite is made from naturally forming quartz crystals, so it has dents and fissures in its surface which can trap dirt and bacteria.

Stone Sealer

If you decide that you’d like to install any of the porous natural stone tiles that I mentioned earlier, you need to be prepared to seal these tiles regularly if you want them to last long and look beautiful.

That means using a good tile and stone sealer.

There are a lot of them around and I have used about a dozen different brands to seal stone tiles and regular cementitious grout.

The one I have had the best results with is Aqua Mix Sealers Choice Gold. I left a link to buy this product in the Marble and Travertine section above, but it’s also quite easy to find at most home improvement stores.

Shower Base Tile vs Shower Wall Tile

As I said earlier, porcelain tiles are significantly more dense than ceramic tiles. It is for this reason that I believe that porcelain tiles are the best choice for your shower base.

But there are also a few other things you should consider before choosing your shower base tile.

One such consideration is tile size. Depending on your choice of shower bases this could be an important restriction.

Mosaics on the Shower Base

Porcelain Mosaic Tile shower base with stone curb

The size of the tile you choose depends on the shower base you installed in your shower remodel.

Schluter and most other foam shower base manufacturers indicate in their instructions that “mosaic tile” installation is not recommended on their shower bases.

They recommend instead that a mortar base shower pan should be installed if you plan to use mosaics for your shower floor tile.

Unfortunately, this is not too helpful to the novice installer because mosaic tile can vary so much in size, but I can tell you that this warning is intended mainly for those planning to install mosaic tile sheets with the small 1″ square tiles attached.

Although they make no attempt to explain themselves, they are recommending this because of the risk of “point source compression”.

This means that the foam base might compress slightly when someone is standing on these tiles because they are too small to adequately distribute the weight. After all, these bases are made out of foam so they are quite easy to damage.

So, if you want to install a tile ready foam shower pan like the Schluter shower tray, I would recommend that you not choose any tile smaller than 4″ square for your shower floor tile.

See my shower waterproofing membrane post for more information about compression risk and other important considerations if you plan to install a mosaic tile shower floor on a tile ready foam shower base.

No Paper Matt Mosaics!

The small mosaic tiles are pretty much always mounted on a matt (or sheet) (usually 1′ x 1′) to allow you to more easily install them and to keep them relatively evenly spaced.

The problem with these mosaic tiles is that the matte is sometimes made of paper and a light duty glue, which basically dissolves when exposed to water. This type of mosaic tile sheet is designed for decorative tiling applications like kitchen backsplash tile.

That means that you should absolutely NEVER install these particular mosaic tile matts in any shower or tub surround.

If you decide to take a chance and install these in your shower, you will inevitably experience tile delaminations as the tiles disconnects from the paper matte and pop off your shower wall or shower base.

You do not need to take this kind of risk because there are plenty of mosaic tile sheets that are designed for showers. These are manufactured with fiber matts and waterproof glue.

Just make sure that you verify the specs with documentation from the manufacturer because tile distributors and retailers often don’t have the knowledge required.

Even the mosaic tiles with fiber matts may not be rated for showers, so it’s always best to make certain of this before you buy. 

Large Format Shower Floor Tiles

Tiles larger than 4″ always pose a challenge if you want to install them on any shower pan / base with a standard round drain.

The problem is that the slope is not linear towards the drain….. instead it constantly changes as a tile position changes on the base. This can cause big tile lippage problems with larger tiles.

The 12 x 24 tiles (large format) are a popular choice because they are often used for the main bathroom floor area and many people are intent on maintaining the continuity between the bathroom floor tile and the shower floor tile.

The only way to solve the tile lippage problem in the shower with these large format tiles is to lay them adjacent to each other from the wall towards the drain, tapering the cuts diagonally and smaller as you approach the drain.

This results in eight intersecting flat planes leading to a square drain (see image below). This is the only solution if you insist on a standard left hand drain (LH), right hand (RH), or center drain(CD).

Shower base-center drain-large tile

Linear Drain?

Another solution to the large tile problem is a single slope shower base with a linear drain on one end. This arrangement poses no problems at all to installing larger tiles in your shower.

However, it can cause some issues if you’re planning to install a curbless or barrier free shower due to the large drop in elevation required from the high end of the shower pan, to the drain.

A 5′ long shower will drop in elevation 1-1/4″ from one end to the other, which cannot be accommodated with a standard 5/8″ – 3/4″ subfloor. Custom structure would be required in the floor in order to drop the pan below the top of your floor joists, or you’ll have to jackhammer the slab if it’s a concrete subfloor. Or… you can simply raise the shower pan and create a standard shower with curb.

This is also a more expensive option because linear drains are quite pricy, and you’ll likely have to relocate the shower drain, and possibly restructure your subfloor.

Wrap Up

Ceramic or porcelain or stone tiles in your shower? Its not an easy choice because they are all very different products, and there’s a lot of confusion about each of them.

Hopefully I was able to open your eyes to a few new things about these tiles, and give you the knowledge and confidence to choose the best tile for your shower remodel project.

Please let me know what you think of the post in the comments below, and please ask me any question you like about choosing the best shower tile.

Good Luck with your project!

This post is for information purposes only and should NOT be interpreted as professional advice. You should always consult a licensed local contractor before undertaking any remodeling work in your home. Click here for my full Personal / Professional Disclosure.

There are 20 comments on this post:

  1. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Gail,

    Thank you for your comment!

    I don’t think you have a tile or grout problem.

    Without seeing the installation, I would guess that your main problem is inadequate support in the framing beneath the shower pan.
    This causes the shower pan to flex, which destroys the tile assembly over time.
    This is the MOST common problem I run into with constructed shower pan assemblies.

    The first thing I would suggest is to get under the shower floor and assess what is going on down there. Get somebody qualified to determine if you have a flexure problem.
    If so, you’ll need to fortify/repair the framing under the shower, and replace the entire shower pan assembly (possibly the entire shower).
    It may be possible to retain the shower walls (and most of the tile), but you’ll have to remove a few rows of tile on the bottom of the walls, build the new pan up the correct elevation, and waterproof the pan/wall margin properly.
    In other words, get an experienced pro to do this.

    If you decide to install stone tile again, be sure to seal it all with a good stone/grout sealer. I’ve had great success with Stonetech Bulletproof and Drytreat Stain Proof sealers.

    Good luck with your repair!

    Steve

  2. Avatar photo

    Steve,

    Now I’m really confused. We had granite tile installed 7 years ago, we have had issues with it ever since. First the grout fell out, had to get the tile installer back to repair that. It still isn’t perfect. Every time you clean or shower the floor is gritty- like sand . Could this be the grout? Now a tile or two have disintegrated, there is nothing left of the tile. Does this sound like the whole shower floor should be redone, or just replace the damaged tiles?

  3. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Kerri,

    In my experience, when it comes to “mosaic tiles” with mesh backing, it often has to do with the material that the mesh backing is made out of.
    Some mosaics are designed for decorative application such as kitchen backsplashes and have a mesh backing made of a fiber/paper like material.
    These tiles cannot be installed in a shower because the mesh basically dissolves in moist environments causing the tiles to separate from the substrate (de-laminate).

    Another problem with ceramic tiles is that they may be glazed mainly on their top surface, with little or no glaze on the sides. Some may also have only a very thin glazing.
    Since the surface glazing is the only barrier preventing ceramic tiles from absorbing moisture (like a sponge), this could be a big problem in the shower, especially on the shower floor where there is almost constant water immersion during showering.
    This could lead to disintegration of the tile over time and/or de-lamination from the substrate.

    Ceramic tiles can also vary in density, so they may not withstand the pressures of footfalls on a shower floor.
    This might also result in disintegration of the tile and/or de-lamination from the substrate

    Although the above problems are quite scary, it still does not necessarily mean that any of these problems will happen.
    All I’m saying is that the chances are MUCH higher if the manufacturer indicates “not suitable for shower floors”
    If you are concerned, the only sure solution would be to replace them, unfortunately.
    If this is not an option, you should probably apply a very good tile and stone sealer regularly. This should prolong their service life.

    Good Luck!

    Steve

  4. Avatar photo

    Very informative post, Steve! I just discovered that the tile my contractor laid in my new shower (over a foam pan) say “not suitable for shower floors”. I’ve not been able to find out *why* it’s not suitable – it’s ceramic (textured glaze, so would seem not to be too slippery) and 3″x5″ on a mesh backing, 7mm thick. Any ideas how I can remedy this situation?

  5. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Georgia,

    You will never have any problems installing ceramic tile as long as you install a good waterproofing membrane. That is the most important step in every shower remodel.

    I provide a more complete tile bonding explanation in my 19 Pro Tips post. There is also an Amazon link for the product I use for bonding (Weldbond).
    You don’t necessarily need to buy it on Amazon though. Weldbond is available in pretty much every home improvement store.

    Bonding the back of your ceramic tiles is a good idea no matter what backer board, thinset mortar, or grout you are using.

    Good luck with your tiling project!

    Steve

  6. Avatar photo

    Hi Steve,

    Super interesting info, thanks so much for taking the time to put it, and your whole site, together.

    I had already bought ceramic tiles for my shower before I read your thoughts, or I’d have thought twice. Would you mind giving a bit more information on the bonding agent that’s the solution to the permeability problem?
    When I google I see lots of bonding agents to apply to the wall, and sealants to apply to grout or natural stone, but I can’t see anything for sealing the backs of ceramic tiles.
    What sort of thing should I be looking for? And should I be sealing the sides/edges too?
    I will be using a cement based tile adhesive, because that’s what the waterproof backer board manufacturer advises, and I’d like to use epoxy grout.

    Thanks!

  7. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Jim,

    Thank you for your comment!

    I think your first step might be to confirm with Schluter systems about if they will honor their warrantee if you use 2″ square tiles. As I mentioned in my blog, I’m not super comfortable with anything smaller than 3″ on these foam pans but these pans have changed a bit since I wrote my post (they now include a bonded surface membrane), so I think it might be worth asking them.

    It will be a huge hassle to cut larger tiles into pieces and this never works out well unless you have a really good wet saw and a really solid technique. And with 2″ tiles you don’t need to be so concerned about COF because of the predominance of grout lines in a 2″ tile matrix.

    It’s always a good idea to research the COF ratings for any porcelain tile you are considering installing on your shower floor however, you also might get a bit frustrated about how few tiles actually include these ratings in their documentation.

    Aside from the COF ratings, you can always get a few samples of the tiles you like and test them all out yourself.

    Good luck with your project!

    Steve

  8. Avatar photo

    Thanks for the information.
    I didn’t know that about the Schluter pan – I actually have one ready to install and was going to use mosaic squares of 2″ but now will use the big tile cut into 8 pieces.
    I hope I can do it accurately. I plan to cut out the sizes in cardboard first for a dry fit then cut the tile.

    One question – on porcelain, what is the best for preventing slippage? I read about COF ratings and >R9 to R13 – etc, should I be looking for these ratings or will any porcelain tile be good for shower floors? Thanks in advance.

  9. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Tina,

    Thank you for your comment! I’m sorry to hear about your contractor troubles.

    It’s difficult to say whether the installation “will be OK for awhile”, since other installation steps may not have been done correctly.
    If there are no other problems with the installation other than what you described, the drywall screws may be ok for awhile. The problem is that no matter how much waterproofing is applied, drywall screws will rust over time and it’s difficult to predict the exact consequences and the timeline.

    It would definitely be a bigger problem if it’s an outside wall with inadequate insulation, because of a higher risk of condensation in this wall.

    Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.

    Steve

  10. Avatar photo

    I had some fake contractors start a shower with only backerboard.they spent all day tiling over it with no membrane and I spent most of the night roping the tile off so they could paint redguard on it and then tile . I know that they pu out on with
    Drywall screws and drywall tape in the seems after lying to my face. Is this a major problem for the integrity of the shower or should it be ok for awhile? I painted 3 layers of red guard at least over all the seems and nails

  11. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Bo,

    Thank you for your comment!

    Porcelain tiles and epoxy grout would be an ideal combination to make cleaning easier. It will also have very low moisture permeability, which is even more important.

    It is possible to remove the tile and grout from the pan without replacing it but it’s risky and I wouldn’t generally recommend it.

    If you have a traditional installation, there will be a liner under the pan. With this install, the pan almost always cracks when you remove the surface tiles. The pan will need to be replaced if this occurs.

    If the installation includes a modern “under-tile” waterproofing membrane, the pan is usually fixed to the substrate so there’s a lower chance that the pan will crack during tile removal. But your biggest problem will be the wall/pan margin and the drain assembly. You will likely destroy the drain assembly if it’s plastic and even if it’s not, you won’t likely be able to re-bond the membrane to it after the demo. You’ll also have to remove a couple inches of wall tile above the pan to reinstall the waterproofing membrane.

    If you have a foam shower base, it will be utterly destroyed during tile removal so the pan would definitely need to be replaced.

    Good luck with it!

    Steve

  12. Avatar photo

    We currently have marble tile and sanded grout on out shower floor. It is a pain to maintain. I’d like to remove these and replace with porcelain tiles and epoxy grout. Two questions:
    1. Is this a good combo to eliminate maintenance?
    2. Can the old marble tiles and thin set be removed only it does the mud pan also need to be removed?

  13. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Leesa,

    Thank you for your comment!

    It sounds like there are at least a couple of issues that you are concerned about with this particular tiling contractor. I always make sure that my clients know exactly what I am doing (and why) at every stage of the project, so they feel comfortable. If you don’t feel comfortable for any reason, you should ask him/her a whole bunch of questions until you do.

    If this doesn’t work, you should politely suggest that you’d like to settle the bill so they can move on to their next job.

    Bottom line is… you don’t want to continue with a contractor you don’t trust, even if the job has already begun.

    That’s my two cents.

    Good luck with it!

    Steve.

  14. Avatar photo

    Hi, thanks for taking time to inform the not so of us lol! I received a bid from contractor which seemed fair. He called saying stopping by to measure again, but didn’t inform me of two guys coming doing tile work. They stated the stone and glass I chose was nice informed me what to get. When leaving contractor said stone square sheets would be laid behind new counter (?) to make even up the wall. I said sounds like a lot of waste.
    Wanted to start this Friday but I didn’t have all the bathroom tile tub etc. few hours later he called saying price was for easy tile I’m guessing ceramic, price went up 1,000 job. I thought odd. Your thought
    Stone on mat with glass (eye drops) for appeal.

  15. Avatar photo

    Hello again John,

    I’m super happy that you are getting so much from my blog!

    I am not sure I understand what you are suggesting here (2.25″ tiles?), but I would always recommend removing existing tiles instead of tiling over them. There are a few primers that allow this but you can never be sure if the original tile is still adequately adhered to the substrate. If not, there will be movement under your new tile, which can cause grout and tile cracking. The subfloor is also exposed to an immense amount of extra weight when you tile over tile, which can enhance floor deflection. This could be a big problem.

    The floor thickness also becomes unmanageable when tiling over existing tile. This is not a good look and creates some unanticipated problems with floor transitions.

    Good luck!

    Steve

  16. Avatar photo

    Wow! Some people like to read books of fiction, I like reading books of FACT, by Steve! Our bath floor is relatively solid, and if we decide on curbless, ouch, can we prep our existing 2.25 inch tiles and tile over them on the main bath floor, to gain some needed height for curbless? Looks like we have to remove and modify the subfloor under the tub ares, unless we go with Tile redi pan . Thank you Steve. John Canada

  17. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Cao,

    Thank you so much for your comment and compliment!

    I’m super happy that I have managed to relay my thoughts clearly and to clear up some of the confusion around choosing and installing tile in the shower.

    Cheers,

    Steve

  18. Avatar photo

    Great synopsis of the considerations of what type of tiles. This is the most comprehensive, technically defendable discussion on the use of Shower Tiling…..Well done Sir !!!!

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