How To Tile Bathroom Shower Wall Niche
How To Tile Bathroom Shower Wall Niche

– All right, now, back
in the bathroom, here. You can see I’ve laid
out my other sheet of 14×22 river rock, here. You did it with two whole sheets here, and then some of the trimmed that I took off the other
sheets are up on the top, along with some single pieces that I’m trying to stitch in to make a decent-sized 14×22 rectangle. That will all go right
here inside the soap niche. It’s very tedious work doing that, but that’s the way you have to do it with this type of stone. I wanna show you, this is an example here
of just a tile here that we might use in this position. You can’t just assume that the tile’s gonna lean up against the wall, there. That’s not correct, because there’s gonna be the thickness of the mortar that you put there. For example, if you
look at this tile here, see the thickness of that mortar, there? It’s about 1/4 of an inch,
maybe even a little more. Depending on if there’s dips in the wall, you may even have to go thicker. My rule of thumb is always that I think the mortar is going to be about the thickness of the tile. When I trowel a 1/2 inch mortar
mix on here onto the wall, it’s gonna mash down half
height to about 1/4 of an inch. That’s a good rule of thumb. That means the tile’s actually gonna look something like this, coming up against the wall,
like, it’ll be separated. In theory, I can get
this little piece here. You would make your tile come out that distance to match it. See how it’s actually sticking out past the surface of the wall, ’cause it has to meet the
front surface of that tile. Don’t screw up your measurements when you’re taking measurements. You gotta do all of this dry
fitting to figure things out. Now, in this case, since
this is ceramic tile and you either have a white
edge or this orange edge, what we’re doing is we’re using these
little pencil pieces here to make a frame in the front of it so that you don’t see it. The frame will cover it up. The problem is now, if you have
the pencil going right here, you can’t have the tile this long. It’s gotta cut down a little. We have this other piece over here, drop that piece out of the way. We have this tile here, and you can see I brought
it just to the edge, there, because when we put this
pencil piece here in front and then allow for that
distance of the mortar, let me try to line this up for you, you’re gonna end up something like this. It’s hard to do it with one hand, but eventually, these
will all fit and line up. That sort of sets the distance that you gotta make that tile cut, there. All right, so now we
wanna go over with you which order do we put these
tiles in here on this niche. Believe it or not, yes, there really is a pecking order of what order do you put them in. I’ve seen people do it into
several different ways, but I believe that my way here that I’m gonna show you, that I’ve been using for years, is the better way to do it. Some people, I think, make
the mistake of thinking, well, you gotta put the
back piece in first, and then you put this
one up in front of it. But see, the problem is, is now you have an upward
facing grout line, here. I think that’s a big no-no. The best way to do it is you gotta look at the
way water is flowing. and what it’s gonna do. I think you should have
the bottom piece in first. Then the back piece goes on top of it, and there’s no grout line, so you just do a thin bead of
caulk along the bottom, there. Water’s gonna hit this back piece first, bounce down and hit this, and
roll off back into the tub. That’s the best way to do it. Now, let’s ask the question, in the pecking order here, should I do the back
first or the sides first as the next step? Well, what if you did
the side piece first, and it went in like this? And then you can see, you’ll have a forward-facing grout line. That’s another scenario
that I try to avoid because water could eventually over time seep in through that grout line, and then get behind the tiles. What I wanna show you here is what I’m gonna do
with this piece, here. Here’s my right side
piece, and watch this. I’m gonna slide it in the back, there. See how it fits a nice,
perfect, tight corner in there? Again, you just run a
bead of silicone up there, so there is no forward-facing
grout line at all. Any water that comes
in and hits this niche is gonna bounce either off
the walls or off the back, and then down to the bottom and gone. You can see our pecking
order so far, then, is the bottom plate first, the back plate second, and the right and left sides can go next. Now, one other thing to consider is, let’s say you wanna put, there’s gonna be a top
piece that goes there, too, which should match the
bottom piece, flipped around. If you’re gonna put that top piece, some people like to rest it on top of the left and right tiles, here. I would have to cut this
tile down a little further in order to let that upper piece with the thickness of its mortar, get it all that distance to come down and rest on top of that. That’s where the art
really comes in on this is, you know, you make your
cuts on the wet saw on the left and right pieces, I guarantee you’re gonna be
going back to the wet saw probably two or three more
times to get it narrowed down. But that’s really the best way to do it to make sure that it
stays completely tight to where you think the upper
piece is going to connect. All right, so this is where the sheet of river rock
is gonna look like this. This’ll be the back piece. Of course, they’ll have
lots of grout on here. This’ll all get sealed. The grout will be sealed as it’s mixed. You shouldn’t have too
much of a problem with it. Now, as we keep working the
area around the niche, here, I went ahead and decided, well, we wanna put the accent banner
border right along here. Figured this would be
a great spot to do it, right below the windowsill. That’s a great breaking point. It’ll still come up
sufficiently high enough on the arch niche, although normally, we
prefer to do it about 50%, about halfway to make it look symmetrical. But you know, you can’t always do that. This is pretty close, here at about 1/3. You can see we had to cut this
piece here to accommodate. We’re just gonna have the
banner come around here. It’ll stop there. It’ll pick up on the other
side of the niche here, and it’ll go right to here, and it’ll stop right
here at the corner piece. I’ll take a step back here
a minute and just look here at all of these dry-fitted
pieces here up top. What I like to do whenever I, here you have the length of
a tile about 22 inches or so. Whenever I break that length up like this and put a little banner in there, I always like the next piece on top, the aggregate of all three
of these pieces here, to equal the length of one whole tile, like this one down here. I like to take that length, bring it up here, and
make it equal to those. We’ll be cutting a shorter
piece to go on top, here, and that will bring
everything back in line with what we’ve done over here, ’cause these were full pieces, here. Everything will come back in line, and it’ll match this line
that you see right here. Then we’ll be starting again with a new row of tiles going up there. Well, here we are. We’ve now gone ahead and
completed all the field tiles going up the wall here
that has the niche on it. You can see we’ve employed a bunch of different methods here. There’s certainly a madness to my method. Yeah, sometimes you have to improvise and use different things, here. We use these big chunks of styrofoam here to hold up the tiles here
so they wouldn’t sag down. It would be your worst nightmare
to put tiles up on the wall and then come in the next morning and find out that they
dropped from the position that you had them in. We also had to use this board here to keep pressure on this tile to keep him up in the exact
position we needed it to be in up against the wall, there. Sometimes the tiles have a
little bit of a cuppage to them and they wanna pop away from the wall. They won’t stay all the
way in where you put ’em. This helps out with that, too. Now it’s time to go ahead and
start tiling the niche, here. You remember before when
we were planning everything and doing some test dry fitting and stuff, I told you how you have to
be aware of the space, here. That’s gonna be present
when you put the tile here. You’re gonna have that little bit of thickness of the mortar, which is about the thickness of the tile. In this case, about 1/4 of an inch. If we cut the back piece like this, here, we had to leave room to be able to put our little frame piece
that we’re gonna use, here. Now, keep in mind, the frame piece is gonna
be elevated up slightly so we’ll have a little
grout line like that, see? You always wanna make it so that this guy is either higher or at the same
height as the pencil piece. Otherwise, the water won’t drain off. You don’t want the pencil piece
being above it, like that. That’s why everything is real critical, that all that planning and everything. Everything’s gonna fit kind of like this. We will have a grout line right here. Usually, I try to avoid
a horizontal grout line on the bottom of the niche if I can. In this case it was unavoidable because I could’ve just cut a whole piece of tile to come all the way to the front. The problem is, this is ceramic, and so it’s a brown
tile there on the front. You gotta do something to cover it up, and that’s what this frame all the way around the
edge is going to do. It’s going to cover it for us. Let me set this aside for a second, and then I’ll show you what
I’m gonna do underneath. In order to get this thing
to be at that elevation, I used some stones here that you see, left over from my little fancy border piece, here. You’re gonna elevate it about
1/4 of an inch in the front, but then I gotta have a slant to it. It’s gotta give it an incline. We’re gonna use the same
1/4-inch-tall in the back, and now you can see I’ve stuck the little blue shim on there, that little wedge. That’ll elevate it 1/8 of an inch so that when you put the tile in place, you can see it is sitting
at an incline, there. Any water that lands
on this will drain out. That’s only at a slight incline. We’re gonna cement all of this down now, and then we’re gonna
cement the back pieces on, and then the side pieces, or we might do the top before the side. We’ll see how it works out. All right, so now we’re getting ready to mount these tiles onto the
back of the niche, there. The problem is is when you’re dealing with sheet mosaic tiles like this, I mean, they’re very unruly. They flop all over the place. They’re very difficult to work with. What I will do sometimes
is I’ll take some blue tape and just start taping it across the front of the tiles like this. You can see where I’ve got
a completed one right here. It does make it a little bit more stiff, not the best in the world, but usually it may be enough
to get it on the wall and work with it. However, sometimes you may find some tiles that are still loose, and it could pinch the tape, and then it’s almost like
it didn’t do its job. Sometimes what I’ll also do,
I’ve done this in the past, is I’ll use a sheet of this Kerdi waterproofing membrane, here. I’ll cut a sheet to match
the back of this 12×12, and what you do is you lay it
down on a tabletop like this, and you trowel out some
thin-set mortar right onto it. You do just a thin amount, because you don’t want it
oozing all the way up here through all of these cracks. You just mount the tiles right onto this and let it sit there overnight and dry. When it dries in the morning, it’ll be nice and rock-hard and stiff. Then you just cement that whole
thing right onto your wall. I may end up doing that right here where we’re gonna go all
the way up the shower there with the river rocks. We may end up doing that for the smaller seven-inch-wide section. All right, so for troweling out
the back of the niche, here, I’m gonna go with a
smaller 3/16-inch trowel, ’cause I think that’s all
these stones really need, ’cause you don’t want
this bleeding through. I’ve also switched here to
a polymer modified thinset, as the manufacturer of the
plastic niche here requires. I could’ve also used the Schluter ALL-SET that I’ve been using for the field tiles, but I decided to, since I had a half a bag
of this lying around, I’ll use this. In case you’re wondering, yes, I do indeed back-butter even the back of the mesh, here, ’cause I wanna make sure
every one of my tiles here is gonna be adhered to the thinset. Now I can start peeling off the tape and making sure everything’s fine with all my little river rocks, here. You’ll see some areas where a little bit of
thinset came through, and we’ll just have to poke those out. I like doing that with Q-Tips. Here we are back again
a few minutes later. Looks like it’ll fit. Just mash it down there into the mortar. Good, we’ll get one to fit in here, another one for there, another one down there, and a couple more down here. We’ll cut up some real skinny
slivers to fit in there. You’ll never even know it. Well, you can see it’s
coming along nicely. We’ve put the right wall in here, and now we’re getting ready
to cement in the left wall. Leave about a 1/4-inch space
in front thickness there so that we can get our frame piece to fit in there. It’ll be going like this, see. That’s all we gotta do. All of the field tiles of the soap niche are now installed. You can see them all in here. Bottom, left side,
right side, and the top. Now I’m going to install
my frame made out of the, these are the pencil pieces. These are travertine pencil tiles. I’ve already cut them
and fitted them together so there won’t be any surprises, and all I’m gonna do is
transfer them from here and fit ’em right up into here. Let me show you this, here. They’re gonna go right here. I’ll have to do a lot of
finagling with spacers and stuff to get everything, all the grout lines even. I’ll get started on that. Well, there you have it. All of the travertine pencil tile pieces are now framed around the
outside of the niche, here. You can see the real tricky part was getting all of the
grout lines to even out, so that’s where we used all
of these blue wedges, here. In the end, it was worth it. You’re looking at about
five hours worth of work, right there, just on this niche alone, from the time we started tiling it. All right, now that we’re done with the
installation of all the tiles, this is natural stone, here, these rocks, and so are these pencil pieces, here. What we’re going to do is we’re going to put on
this sealer and enhancer. Now, there’s two types of
this sealer that you can get. There’s one like this one that has the enhancer built into it, and then there’s another type that doesn’t have an enhancement. This sealer will add a
little bit of contrast to it. If you don’t want that
type of effect to it, then you can just get the regular sealer and it will leave it
looking exactly like this. It’ll kinda blend. I like to give it a little
punch, a little kick to it. I’ve already got some here in a cup, here, and all I do is very simple. Here’s my paintbrush, here. I just brush it across. Try to let it get in
the middle there, too, in the sides, the edges of the stone. What this sealer does,
because this is natural stone, it’s very porous. When you go to grout, if you were to just grout right on these, you could possibly stain these, and these might even absorb the grout. You wouldn’t be able to get
all of it off the front. Sometimes it seeps into the edges, and it discolors your natural stone. This just keeps it
looking like natural stone without it being absorbing. You can see right now it’s
getting a little bit contrasty. You can see how these here
on the right-hand side have a little bit more
saturation to the color, a little more contrast to it. That’s what that effect does. And then down here on the pencil, I don’t wanna get any on the other tiles, ’cause those are ceramic. They don’t need to get sealed. You just drag it gently across. You can see almost right away how the effect of the enhancing parts, see how these grain patterns here are really starting to become prominent. That’s all you do, and you gotta wait two days, two to three days before you can grout. That’s working with stone, takes a long time ’cause it adds a lot of days to your calendar for all of the extra steps
and stuff that you have to do. But you do have to do it. If you try to take a shortcut, you’re gonna end up with
a failed installation. I just wanted to share with
you this little trick, here. Whenever you get little bits
of globs of thinset mortar that poke through the mesh
and come too far forward, I usually like to use a nail set, because it’s got a nice,
sharp, pointed edge, and I just get in there and clean it out, kind of like a dentist doing, cleaning up the cavities, there. This is very useful for getting some of those little chunks out. Then when you’re done,
before you seal up the rocks, you get a vacuum cleaner and
suck out all of this dust. Come by with a, right here, I’m gonna get a
wet rag and bring it over here and get this little bit
of cement off the front. That’s all you gotta do, is just scrub down your rocks really good. All right, so we’re gonna be using this Navajo brown-colored grout. I never mixed water, use
water to mix the grout. I always use a grout
additive and a sealer. This one here is made by the manufacturer to go with the grout. I’ve already dumped 32
ounces of it in here. We’re only going to mix half a batch. This is a 25-pound bag. I’m only gonna put in 12
and 1/2 pounds of product. Here you can see I’ve
switched to the glove to get at some of these tighter spots. I think it’s just a little bit more efficient use of the time. Plus, I can get into some
of the nooks and crannies, like I gotta get up in
there with it, okay? Here I can get a good feel for what’s going on here with the stones. I get all of these areas filled in ’cause I can feel it better with my hand. All right, so it’s been
about almost 15 minutes on this part up here. I’m gonna take my sponge right here, and I always use a nice,
tall bucket of clean water. When it starts to get cloudy, you wanna make sure you change
that to fresh, clear water, ’cause you don’t wanna
keep putting muddy water back onto the wall. That would defeat your
purpose of cleaning it off. You got your sponge here, right? What I always do is one stroke only, then flip it over, one stroke. Flip it on this edge,
flip it on this edge here, and then that edge and that edge. There’s six edges to this sponge. You only get six wipes, and then you have to
go back and redunk it. Do not wipe it and then come back on to another part of the tile with the same side that you just wiped, ’cause all you’re gonna be
doing is smearing mud around. This is what I do. I come right down the line,
there, and I flip it over. I come right down here and flip it over. I come right down the edge like that. Flip it over to the other edge. Come right down this edge, and so forth. You can see this is already drying and getting a little hard, so I’m gonna probably do
two applications of this. Then a couple of hours later, I may come by with a damp cloth and just clean off the
main part of the tile and leave the grout alone. I won’t touch the grout. Then when the grout dries overnight, it should be just a
very thin, powdery haze that should wipe off with a dry cloth. Well, we’ve completed the initial
grouting and wiping phase. It’s been about four or five hours so far. You can see there’s still a little bit of haze on the rocks, there. You can see a little bit
excess haze right here in some of these areas. What I’m gonna do is, I have a fresh, new bucket
of water here with a sponge. I’m just gonna hit the areas of the tile away from the grout lines. We’ll probably get a little
bit of water dribbling on it, but it’s not really gonna do anything. I’m not brushing up against it and dragging more grout off, or making more mud or anything out of it. I’m just only gonna clean
the surface of the tile. For example, you can see here, I’m gonna do just this one right here. I’m just gonna do a wipe right there all the way down to, and then stop before the grout line. You can see not a whole lot
comes off, which is good, ’cause at this point there shouldn’t be a lot of haze on there. If I just go to the other
side of the sponge now and do it again, see, virtually nothing. Each successive time you wipe, now, you should have less
and less haze on there that would cause any problem for you. Then, when you squeeze it into the water, you’ll see your water
will stay clearer longer. We’re gonna continue this all around. Well, you can see how much
of a difference it made by sponging it off. If you see the right side
here looks nice and clean, whereas the left side and the rocks here still have the haze on it. Now that we’re pretty much
done with the larger tiles, we’re now gonna do just
a quick, light sponge down here on the rocks, ’cause we need to bring
the color back on these. There’s way too much haze on here that I don’t think it’ll come off very easily in the morning. You can see I just have, the sponge is just barely damp, and just trying to scrape off some of the haze there without
disturbing the grout. You can see it’s not really affecting the sponge too much, there. But I’ll go to the other side, here. See, up here at the top, just to try to get the
haze off of the rocks. Then here in the niche, you can see there’s a little bit of haze right along the bottom piece, here. I just wanna give that a good
wipe, get that cleaned off. Then I’ll go ahead and just
give these a quick wipe to bring back the color. Now when we come in in the morning, the haze will be truly a nice,
clean, thin, powdery layer that all we gotta do is just
wipe it off with a dry cloth.

6 thoughts on “How To Tile Bathroom Shower Wall Niche”

  1. jeffostroff says:

    Tile Niche products in this video:

    EZ-NICHE 14in X 22in Tile Wall Shampoo Soap Niche:

    Raimondi, Leveling System Starter Kit – 100pcs wedgest, 100 clips & floor plier:

    MAPEI Ultracolor Plus FA Powder Grout – 10LB/Bag #14 Biscuit:

    Stonetech Stain Protecting Grout Additive:

  2. Dante Perez says:

    You could’ve shown how you cut the pebbles, I think that would’ve helped out

  3. Fadista Gomes says:

    5 hours ???

  4. Gonso2014 says:

    Nice way of braking tiles

  5. pietrosammarco says:

    Thanks for the video! Lots of valuable info. I'm wondering, wouldn't it be better, if you have the opportunity, to slope the framing itself for the niche, rather than just the tile? I mean, that way the water that goes through the grout and hits your waterproofing membrane will drain properly too–right? Or am I missing something? Thanks again for sharing!

  6. John Smith says:

    You sound like and pointing a finger like Starr Tile guy.

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