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How to Build and Tile a Shower Niche

  1. Step 1 Stud Finder

    Stud Finder

    To determine where the shower nook will go, first use the stud finder to locate the studs in the wall. You can do this by using the stud finder directly over the tiles in the shower, or from the other side of the wall.

    Be aware of any wiring, pipes, or insulation are behind the walls; this will be important in the following steps. If you are aware of any intrusions in the wall, you can move or alter your shower nook.

  2. Step 2 Mark Tiles

    Mark Tiles

    After fining the studs, mark the area where the tiles need to be cut with the china marker. The marker will not stain or discolour the tile, so you can make as many marks as you wish.

    Studs usually don't meet at the grout lines, so you'll be mostly cutting directly into the tile. Carefully lay out an area between the studs. Ours will also have a stud in the centre. We worked with a space that was 32 ½ inches wide and 42 inches tall, approximately 3 ½ to 4 feet from the floor of the shower.

    After marking the area, recheck your measurements using the level.
    Many homes are not exactly square and level, so getting the square as close as possible is fine in many cases.

    That 32 ½ x 42-inch rectangle will be the size of your shower nook. Since most homes are built with studs with 16 inches on centre between them, this should give you a secure installation.

    Also, the specific location you want your new shower nook may require studs to be removed. This can be done, and the studs cut out can be used to frame the top and bottom of the nook. These supports are also called cross-members.

  3. Step 3 Cut Tiles

    Cut Tiles

    Use the tile saw, and proceed to cut into the tiles and grout where marked. Wear the dust mask as you do this. Work slowly so as not to cut too much existing tile off and to cut the straightest line possible.

    You can also cut the tiles and grout within the rectangle to help remove the existing tile. Cut only as deep as the tile, so you are removing the “layers” of tile and backerboard in sections, not all at once. This is for safety, in case there are any unforeseen intrusions in the wall.

  4. Step 4 Verify No Intrusions

    Verify No Intrusions

    After removing all layers of tile, mortar and backerboard, you should have an exposed 32 ½ x 42-inch hole in the tiled wall. Inspect the just-cut edges to ensure the tile is straight, and verify there are no intrusions such as electrical wiring or pipes along the entire depth of the area you just removed.

  5. Step 5 Measure Depth

    Measure Depth

    Use the measuring tape to measure the depth of the studs from the back all the way to the front wall. Most homes should have 4 inches, but others may be 6 inches deep.

    The nook will be 4 inches deep since most shampoo and soap bottles can fit easily at this size on a shelf.

  6. Step 6 Measure 2x4

    Measure 2x4

    Measure 32 ½ inches (or the closest measurement if the space between your studs is different) on the 8-foot 2 x 4. This will become your top and bottom cross-member frames for the nook.

  7. Step 7 Cut and Place

    Cut and Place

    Cut the 2 x 4 at the 32 ½-inch measurement, and then carefully place them at the top and bottom openings. Leave about ¾ inch visible, but flush with the cut tile. Fasten both top and bottom cross-members into the existing side studs using the backerboard screws.

    For the bottom cross-member, you'll need to install it at a slight downward angle to ensure any water runs off and away from the nook. Use you level to ensure this is done correctly. Too much of a pitched angle will let you shampoo bottles slide off, so this step is very important!

  8. Step 8 Fasten Backerboard

    Fasten Backerboard

    Measure the inside of your framed-in shower nook on all four sides, plus the new back wall made up of two pieces, above and below the shelf. Use your utility knife to cut the ¼-inch backerboard into 10 pieces to cover the wood frames.

    The backerboard only needs to be deeply scored, then it can be snapped off to the size needed to cover up the wood. Use backerboard screws to fasten each piece directly into the studs and cross-members.

  9. Step 9 Apply Adhesive

    Apply Adhesive

    Use backerboard seam tape along all edges of the backerboard. Wearing grouting gloves, apply the Bright White adhesive with the putty knife. Place a liberal amount over the seam tape edges, using the squeegee from your tile installation kit.

    Remove any excessive amounts of adhesive so the new tiles in the nook can rest on top of the backerboard in a level and secure manner. Allow the adhesive to dry six to eight hours

  10. Step 10 Apply RedGard

    Apply RedGard

    After inspecting the backerboard seams and ensuring they're dry, apply the RedGard Waterproofing Membrane on the backerboard and seam surfaces using the paint brush.

    Let the first coat set for one hour, then repaint a second coat to ensure you are making a 100 percent waterproof surface for your new tiles.

  11. Step 11 Lay Tiles

    Lay Tiles

    After the RedGard dries, you can begin to lay out your tiles for placement. Using the 12 x 12 mosaic tile, match up your pattern to fill the space. You may have to cut some tiles to fit.

  12. Step 12 Secure Tiles

    Secure Tiles

    After laying out and measuring the tiles, start on the back wall. Wear your gloves as you secure the tiles onto the backerboard surface using the Bright While adhesive, and grout with the small notched trowel from you tile installation kit.

    If cutting is necessary, it can be done effectively using your tile saw. Make sure to wear your dust mask. Use the level as a straight edge and mark with the china marker to get a perfect cut.

    For the side walls of the nook, continue piecing individual tiles into the ongoing pattern until you reach the edge. You will once again need to cut tile excess as needed.

  13. Step 13 Rail Moulding

    Rail Moulding

    Use the 2 x 12 rail moulding to frame the nook. You'll have to cut the rail moulding to accommodate the 90-degree corners of the nook, as well as placement of the joints.

    After installing the remaining tiles, let them set six to eight hours or overnight to ensure it has bonded properly.

  14. Step 14 Grout


    After the adhesive has dried underneath the tiles, you are now ready to grout. Using the Alabaster adhesive and grout, take a squeegee from your tile installation kit and force the grout into the grout lines on all the new tiles.

    Wipe off all excessive grout and haze immediately using your grouting sponge. Let the grout dry out for four to six hours.

  15. Step 15 Grout Sealer

    Grout Sealer

    After the grout has dried, you can use you tile and grout sealer to further protect your nook. Spray a generous amount on all surfaces of the shower nook and then use your clean grouting sponge to spread the sealer evenly over the surface. After the sealer is dry, you can apply a second coat for further protection.

  16. Step 16 Enjoy


    And there you have it, a custom-built Tile Shower Nook!

What You Need for This Project

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