How to Waterproof Shower Wall Before Tiling (4 Easy Steps)

Few home renovation projects are as satisfying and useful as a bathroom remodel. The primary bathroom is a crucial aspect of any home because it is where you prepare for the day and relax at the end. The crowning beauty of this private sanctuary is that the shower is a place to relax after a long day and revitalize the body and mind.

However, the integrity of your shower’s waterproofing system is typically overlooked until it’s too late because shiny tiles and cutting-edge fixtures hide it.

You’ve spent hours researching tiles, planning the perfect shower layout, and purchasing high-end fixtures to achieve your luxury dream. You’ve picked out the tiles, finalized the structure, and are excited as you prepare to install your ideal shower. But the devil is in the details, as it is with any building or remodeling endeavor.

Waterproofing is essential to preventing your dream shower from becoming a nightmare of leaks, mildew development, and expensive structural damage.

This article will guide you through the murky waters of bathroom remodeling. We’ll set sail on an adventure that will teach you everything you need to know to waterproof your shower walls properly before tiling them. Whether you’re a seasoned DIYer trying to tackle a bathroom remodel on your own or a homeowner hoping to work with professionals, you must have a firm grasp of the ins and outs of waterproofing.

Do I need to waterproof shower wall before tiling?

Waterproof Shower Wall Before Tiling

It is strongly advised to waterproof shower wall before tiling. Waterproofing is an important element in establishing a functioning and long-lasting bathing space. Here are a few reasons why waterproofing is critical:

1. Preventing Water Damage: Waterproofing’s primary goal is to establish a barrier that stops water from seeping through small cracks in the walls and into the underlying structure. Water can permeate the walls without sufficient waterproofing, causing problems such as mold growth, wood rot, and structural damage to your bathroom.

2. Mold and Mildew Prevention: Moisture accumulating within the walls due to insufficient waterproofing can provide an ideal mold and mildew growth environment. This is not only unattractive, but it can also pose health dangers to residents.

3. Extending the Lifespan of Your Tiles: Water infiltration can cause damage to the glue used to bind your tiles to the wall, leading them to become loose or removed from one wall over time. Waterproofing properly guarantees that your tiles stay securely in place.

4. Maintaining Aesthetic Appeal: Water damage and leaks can cause unattractive stains, discoloration, and degradation of the shower walls. Waterproofing helps to keep your bathroom looking nice.

5. Preventing Costly Repairs: Waterproofing is a very inexpensive investment compared to the possible costs of restoring water damage to your home’s structure. Avoiding water damage in the first place can save you a lot of money in the long run.

6. Building Code Compliance: In many areas, building rules and regulations require shower walls to be waterproofed to meet safety and quality standards. Follow these standards to avoid legal problems or difficulties when selling your home.

Shower walls can be waterproofed using various methods and materials, including waterproof membranes, backer boards, wet concrete, and waterproofing solutions. The manner you use will be determined by your budget, the sort of tiles you intend to use, and your level of DIY ability.

How To Waterproof Shower Walls Before Tiling

The steps you listed oversimplify how to seal shower walls before tiling. Let’s look at them in a little more depth:

How To Waterproof Shower Walls Before Tiling

Start With Cement Board

It’s vital to start sealing and tiling your shower walls by putting up a strong cement backer board that won’t let water through. A cement backer board also called a “cement board” or “backer board,” is made to last in wet places like bathrooms. It is extreme because it is made of cement and fiberglass mesh to hold the weight of tiles and the pressures of daily life. Significantly, it doesn’t get damaged by water like traditional drywall does.

This protects the structural structure of your bathroom and keeps you from paying for expensive repairs. An essential step is using the suitable screws to attach the backer board to the wall studs. This ensures that the next steps in waterproofing the system’s shower wall before tiling it will be built on a robust and stable base. With this safe attachment, the whole tiling job could be better, causing tiles to move, surfaces to be uneven, and maybe even water to get in.

Tape The Seams And Start Mortaring

Once the cement backer board is firmly attached to your shower walls, the next important step in making a tiled shower that is water-resistant and looks good is to use fiberglass mesh tape to strengthen the seams between the boards. This seemingly small but essential step is crucial to ensuring that your tiling job will go smoothly and last for a long time.

It stops gaps or cracks from forming where cement backer boards meet, which could weaken the structure and let water in, leading to problems with wetness like mold. Fiberglass mesh tape, which was made specifically for this job, can fill these gaps using woven fiberglass threads stuck to a self-adhesive backing. This creates a single surface that makes seams less likely to cause problems and improves the success of your project.

Start Waterproofing

To ensure that the shower walls are impervious to water, you can use a waterproofing substance or a waterproofing liquid. When applied to the bottom of a shower pan or structure, waterproofing membranes take the form of sheets or rolls of material that form a barrier that prevents water from entering. It is possible to apply waterproofing liquids in either liquid or paste form. As they dry, they form a barrier that prevents water from penetrating the structure.

The sealing substance of your choosing should be applied to the entirety of the shower, including the walls and seams. Paying particular attention to joints, corners, and changes in a plane is vital because these are entry points for water that are very easy to miss.

Let Dry, And You’re Ready To File

To ensure that the waterproofing substance is entirely dry, follow the instructions on the packaging. Drying periods vary widely depending on the materials that are utilized.

After the waterproofing has had enough time to dry and set up a solid barrier, you may begin installing the flooring. After the surface has been fully waterproofed, the next step is to apply thin-set mortar to it, followed by the tiles. Be careful to use spacers in the tile adhesive to maintain uniformity in the gap sizes between the tiles.

After the mortar has had enough time to cure, you should grout the tiles and then complete tiling by sealing the other grout lines to prevent water seepage.

Remember that the preceding is merely a condensed and simplified process. It is crucial to complete each stage with caution and precision. If you want the walls of your shower to last for a long time and not leak water, it is essential to protect them adequately. You must follow the application procedures and drying timeframes specified by the manufacturer of the sealing materials you use. Various sealing materials may require multiple application methods and may dry at varying rates.

What Are The Best Waterproofing Membranes To Use On Shower Walls?

What Are The Best Waterproofing Membranes To Use On Shower Walls?

Some suitable waterproofing membranes on the market can protect bathroom walls from water. The best one for your project will rely on your budget, local building codes, and personal preferences, among other things. Here are some of the best sealing membranes that are often used when installing shower walls:

Sheet Membranes

Sheet Membranes

Schluter-KERDI: Schluter-KERDI is a famous sheet membrane that does a great job of keeping water out and managing vapor. It is put on the sides of the tub or shower with thin-set mortar, making a continuous barrier that keeps water out.

Laticrete Hydro Ban: Laticrete Hydro Ban is another sheet material widely used because it provides vital waterproofing, is moisture resistant, and is easy to implement.

Liquid Membranes

RedGard: RedGard is an easy-to-use liquid-applied membrane that makes a waterproof layer when appropriately used. It is often used in both home and business settings.

Mapei AquaDefense: Mapei AquaDefense is a liquid membrane that, when sprayed, makes a continuous waterproof barrier with no gaps. It can be used on the walls and floors of a tub surrounding a shower.

Cementitious Membranes

Ardex 8+9: Ardex 8+9 is a flexible waterproofing material made from two coats of cement that can be used in many places, such as on shower walls. It is often used as a liquid or a paste, and as it dries, it makes a waterproof layer.

Fabric-Reinforced Membranes

NobleSeal TS: NobleSeal TS is a fabric-reinforced sheet membrane that combines the benefits of a sheet membrane with the extra strength of the fabric layer. It is known for being strong and easy to put up.

Polyethylene Membranes

Vapor Barrier: Polyethylene vapor barriers are not waterproofing membranes in and of themselves, but they can be used with other waterproofing ways to keep water out better. Most of the time, they are put in place behind the backing board or the insulation.

Mixtures of membranes

Kerdi-Board and Wedi: Kerdi-Board and Wedi are not standard membranes, but they are still important to discuss. They are made of waterproof foam boards that can be used as padding and a base for tiling. They are waterproof by design and can be an excellent way to keep water out of shower walls.

Remember that the best waterproofing membrane for your project will depend on things like the design of the shower, the surface it will go on, and the local building rules. To ensure the chosen waterproof membrane works, it is crucial to put it correctly and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Also, it’s best to talk to a professional or check the local building codes to ensure that your waterproofing meets your area’s rules and industry standards.

Tile Backer Board To Help Waterproof Substrate 

Tile Backer Board To Help Waterproof Substrate 

Tile backer board is essential to waterproofing and getting the surface ready for tiling, especially in wet places like bathrooms and baths. Here’s a look at the tile backer board and what it does to keep the base dry:

1. What is a tile backer board?

Tile backer board, which is also called cement backer, cement board screws, or tile foundation board, is a type of building material that is made to be used when installing tiles. It is made by mixing cement with fiberglass mesh or cellulose fibers to make a stiff and strong wall.

2. Making the substrate waterproof:

One of the main reasons to use tile backer board is to make a strong and waterproof base for installing tiles. Traditional drywall is unsuitable for places like showers and toilets where water is often present because it is easily damaged when wet. On the other hand, the tile backer board is very resistant to water and moisture, making it an excellent choice for keeping water from damaging the structure underneath.

3. Stability and strength:

Tile backer board is made to make a base for tiles that is stable and strong. It can hold the weight of the tiles and deal with the stress and moisture that come with living in a wet place. Because of this strength, the tiles will stay in place over time.

4. How to keep mold and mildew away:

Tile backer board helps keep water from entering the walls or floors by making a waterproof shield. This causes mold and mildew to be less likely to grow, which can be a big problem in wet places.

5. Tile Adhesion:

The tile backer board also makes it easier for the tiles to stick to the concrete plaster wall. The rough surface of the backer board holds the tile glue well, creating a strong bond that helps keep the tiles in place.

6. Various Types Available:

There are different kinds of tile backer boards, such as typical cement backer boards, fiberglass-reinforced cement boards, and foam core boards with cement coatings. The type of backer board you use depends on things like the application, the weight of the tiles, and the building rules in your area.

Why shower waterproofing is so important

Why shower waterproofing is so important

Shower protection is vital because it helps protect your bathroom and home in many ways. First, it protects against water damage by making a barrier that keeps water from getting into walls, floors, and other structure parts. This protection is vital in places that get a lot of water, like bathrooms, because it prevents problems like rotting wood and crumbling drywall, which can ruin your home’s structure.

Also, good sealing helps keep mold and mildew from growing in wet areas. Because bathrooms have a lot of humidity, these ugly and possibly dangerous growths can grow there. Waterproofing helps keep the site dry, preventing mold and mildew from growing. This protects your health and reduces the need for expensive repairs.

Lastly, shower waterproofing is vital to keep your bathroom looking nice and, in turn, to keep your home’s value high. Without it, water-related stains, discoloration, and structural damage can ruin the look of your area. This can make your bathroom look bad and cost a lot to fix. Proper waterproofing protects your home and adds to its long-term value, making it a smart choice for any bathroom renovation or building project.

Wrap Up On How To Waterproof shower walls

How To Waterproof shower walls

Waterproofing shower walls before tiling is an indispensable aspect of any bathroom renovation or construction project. It is an essential step that makes your new shower tile look better and ensures it works well and lasts a long time.

By taking a systematic approach, starting with a strong base like cement backer board, reinforcing seams, and choosing a suitable waterproofing membrane, you can make a barrier that protects your home from water damage, mold, and structural problems.

When shower walls are waterproofed properly, water can’t get in. This keeps your bathroom’s structure in good shape and reduces the chance of needing expensive fixes in the future. It also makes the environment healthier by stopping mold and mildew from growing. It also meets building rules and increases the value of the property.

Using suitable materials, methods, and attention to detail in your waterproofing process will give you a beautiful, long-lasting shower space and peace of mind, knowing that your investment will last. Whether you’re an experienced do-it-yourselfer or working with an expert, learning how to waterproof shower walls before tiling is a fundamental skill that will give you a shower that works and won’t leak for years.


Should I waterproof the shower walls before tiling?

Yes, bathroom walls should be waterproofed before they are tiled. Waterproofing is vital so that water doesn’t get into the walls and cause damage, mold growth, and structural problems. It makes sure that your shower will last and stay in good shape.

What is the easiest way to waterproof a shower wall?

Most of the time, liquid waterproofing products are the best way to prevent cracks and make a shower wall watertight. These are often sold in ready-to-use packages and can be spread with a paintbrush, roller, or trowel. If you follow the instructions from the maker, liquid waterproofing products are easy to use and work well.

How do you waterproof a shower area before tiling?

Follow these general steps to protect a shower area before tiling:
Put down a good base, like cement backer board.
Use fiberglass mesh tape to make the seams stronger.
Follow the instructions given by the maker of the chosen waterproofing material, such as a sheet membrane, a liquid membrane, or a cementitious membrane.
Let the waterproofing dry and cure as directed by the maker.
Install the tiles using thin-set mortar, then fix the spaces between them.

What do you put on shower walls before tiling?

Before tiling, the shower floor and walls must be sealed with a sealing material to make a barrier. Sheet membranes, membranes put on with liquid, and cementitious coats are all common choices. These materials keep water from getting into the base and causing damage and give the tiles a stable surface to stick to. The material you choose relies on your project’s needs and what you like.


David Coleman
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