Tiling a Shower Floor or Wall First: Which Way is the Right Way?

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Are you tiling the bathroom? Should you start tiling a shower floor or wall first? Welcome to the great debate.

There are many reasons why you should do one or the other first.

And, many have sound arguments. But, which way is the right way?

The answer is: there is no right way. So, here are the arguments for both.

Tiling a Shower Floor First

What is the main reasons why you should do the floor first? The wall tiles should overlap the floor. And, that can't happen if the wall tiles are already installed. At least, not without some careful planning first.

However, professional tilers will disagree with this. If you tile the floor first you may accidentally damage the new floor by dropping things on it. This may result in cracked tile. Or, difficult-to-remove mortar drops when tiling the wall.

If you prefer doing the shower floor first, you can avoid accidental accidents by covering the new floor tile. Use paper or cloth to protect the new tiles.

Tiling the Wall First

Why should you tile the wall first? It's time efficient. At least, that's what many tilers believe.

So, to accommodate the flooring tile, many like to leave a small gap between the last row of wall tile and floor. Some like to use a ledger or other space saver to indicate where your missing row should be.

And, after installing the floor tile you can install that final, or first, row of wall tile. Or, fill the gap with grout. Additionally, you can also cut the tile to fill the gap between floor and wall.

But, keep in mind that improperly trimmed tiles and excessive grout doesn't just look unsightly. It can also compromise the integrity of your waterproofing.

A Mix of Both Philosophies

Ideally, you may want to try a mixture of both ways. What you really want to do is tile the walls starting with the second row and work up from there. The first row near the floor should be reserved using a ledger or other space saver. And, let that dry.

Meanwhile, install your floor tiles to the wall. And then, finish by installing that final row of wall tiles so that it overlaps the floor properly. This works seamlessly if you have level flooring.

Unfortunately, not all shower stalls and surfaces are uniformly level. And, your tiling strategy may depend on the type and size of tiles you are using, too.

If you're hungry for ideas then check out our tile work ideas, we include 10 interesting and different design concepts.

Final Thoughts

Is there a definitive answer to tiling a shower floor or wall first? Unfortunately, there is not. Many times it's personal preference.

Furthermore, sometimes people will go with what makes the most sense to them. Others prefer to do one or the other depending on visual attractiveness. But, since the rules of tiling are not set in stone, many adapt one or the other as the situation calls for it.

Finally, if you want to be on the safe side you can try a mix of both philosophies. Using a mix gives you the best of both schools of thought. And, helps take the guesswork out of which way is the right way.

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