Tiled showers feel so luxurious, modern, and upscale. Adding tile to a bathroom adds pleasing aesthetics and value. But, can you tile over a shower pan?
You should not tile over a shower pan or base made of plastic, fiberglass, or acrylic. Weight put onto these types of flexible surface materials will result in some slight bending. As a result, the grout and tile could crack.
Tile Redi shower pans are, however, designed to withstand the weight of tiling. Read on for more information.
Types of Shower Bases For Tiles
If you decide to match or coordinate the base of your shower to the tiled walls, you must have the proper support underneath. The base needs to hold the weight of the tiles and the people standing on them. Consider if the weight of your home’s flooring can also support the weight of the tiles if tiling a large surface.
Tiled floors that become wet can be slippery, so consider using tiles that have texture to them for some grip. The cost of tiling a shower floor is going to be higher as well. The permanence of an installed shower is difficult and costly to replace. So, it is important to make good decisions that promote the longevity of your shower area. Let’s look at a few options:
1. Tile Redi Base Pan
A Tile Redi base pan is a leak-proof and one-piece insert with integrated splash walls, curb, and drain hole with a stainless steel plate. This product will cost more than others. This higher cost is worth it to avoid cracked tiles or other expensive repairs. Use a waterproof epoxy that will adhere the tiles to the surface of the pan.
2. Concrete Base
Concrete can give the homeowner the opportunity to custom design how the shower will look in regards to its size and shape. The drain and plumbing will need to be carefully installed with a poured concrete base.
Determine the pattern and placement of your tiles, setting them into place once the concrete is set. The tiles should be placed so that the water will flow to the drain. Keep in mind that you will need to waterproof the tile and grout with a waterproofing coat. Professional help may be a good idea if using this type of installation.
3. Molded Stone
While molded stones are not traditional tiles, these might be another option. Molded stone should be used with a concrete base or a Tile Redi pan. Generally, this type of material is made of natural stone and plastic, offering attractive aesthetics and durability. Molded stone keeps out mold and mildew and does not need grout.
If you want to learn how to build a shower pan, see the video below:
This video shows how to build a mortar shower pan, which includes setting up the drain properly.
The Best Shower Base for Tile Walls
The good news is that if you cannot tile the base if it is fiberglass, plastic, or acrylic, you can still tile the walls! Many DIY homeowners opt for a tile-to-shower pan transition to create a beautiful shower environment.
A flexible shower base is ideal for a house that settles and that handles the weight of people. Additionally, these types of bases are easier to clean since there are no seams or grout directly on the floor.
Acrylic Shower Pans
Acrylic is a form of plastic and is generally more affordable than the above-mentioned bases. These kinds of bases are available in various colors and custom sizes, with white, gray, and black the most common. Acrylic shower pans are easy to clean and maintain and less likely to crack due to their flexible nature.
Place and adhere tiles on the corresponding walls around the shower pan. Then caulk them with silicone where the tiles and pan meet to keep water out. It is not recommended to tile over the shower pan lip.
Fiberglass Shower Pans
Fiberglass bases are the cheapest option, however, they stain more easily from use and mineral deposits. Abrasive cleaning tools may scratch fiberglass surfaces as well. There may be more stain-resistant fiberglass options available, but keep in mind that they will increase in cost similar to those of an acrylic base.
You could also peel and stick tile over a fiberglass shower with both walls and base. However, this option does not use real tile and will show signs of wear and tear from the moisture over time. If used on the floor there is a risk of wear and tear in addition to creating a slip and fall hazard.
How do you tile over a shower base?
Read on for an overview of the process to install tile in a shower. A contractor or plumbing professional can work with you to ensure that you correctly install a shower and cut tile.
- Prepping the area: Demolition will need to take place, and you should take the appropriate precautions for construction-type work that includes masks, gloves, and eye protection. You will also need to use care while working with any plumbing or electricity.
- First, you will need to work from a clean slate in the bathroom, meaning that you can see the studs as well as the subfloor. If the subflooring is wooden, it will need a layer of cement board and waterproofing for protection underneath the pan. You will also need an access hole for the drain and plumbing.
- Mortar: A prefab shower pan for use with tile should be secured into a bed of mortar that is flat and even. The mortar must be dry before proceeding. All of these layers on the floor must be able to accommodate the drain and pipes.
- Walls: The walls should be covered with cement backer board and then sealed to the shower pan with silicone caulk. Make accommodations for the shower head and faucet controls.
- Cutting and Adhesive: Cut the tiles with a wet saw and a diamond blade to fit the dimensions of your shower and then adhere them to the base with a thinset or an epoxy adhesive. It is best to dry-fit and cut everything to perfect size before permanently adhering them to the shower areas. The drain should be flush with the floor of the shower plan.
- Grout: Once the thinset or epoxy is dry the tile can then be grouted as the finishing touch.
Check out the YouTube video below on how to prepare a shower pan for tile using a Tile Redi shower base:
You see how to set the base into place as well as hook up a PVC waste line.
Can you put a shower pan over tile?
It may be tempting to put a new shower pan over the tile already on the floor.
Installing a shower pan over tile is not a good idea. It will be very difficult to perfectly align the drain, and the resulting adjustments you try to make will likely end up with leaks.
It is best to hammer and chisel out the floor tile to properly install a shower pan.
Can you tile over a cultured marble shower pan?
You can tile over a cultured marble shower pan, however, it is risky. These pans are typically made from an acrylic composite, which is not recommended for bearing the weight of the tile.
It is best to not take shortcuts. You should tile from a blank slate with the right materials.
Your choice of shower base will depend upon your budget and aesthetic choices. The shower base serves an important function in draining away water while keeping your floors (and subfloors) dry.
If you choose to tile the base of a shower, it must be installed correctly using a base designed to support tile. Otherwise, you may end up with cracked flooring that leads to water damage and other costly fixes.