A shower niche is a small shelf in the wall of your shower. It is super useful if you want to declutter your bathroom or don’t want to have all of your shower things on the floor.
Though they have a simple design, installing one can be a bit tricky, especially if you have no experience with tiling in general.
Before you take on this huge project by yourself, read this easy step-by-step guide so you know exactly what to do.
We will also tell you everything you need to know about tiling a shower niche, so you can avoid mistakes that may be expensive to fix.
How To Tile A Shower Niche – Step By Step
1. Make sure you have the right tools! The main tool you will be using for tiling is a trowel, but the right tone depends on the tile you are using. The standard tile size is around 1/4 inch thick, so if you are using these then you should probably use a ¼ inch by 1/4 inch square notched trowel.
The square notches are designed to help your tile adhere to the wall. Rather than using mastic to stick the tiles to the wall, you should instead use an adhesive that has been designed specifically for showers or wet areas. This type of adhesive is usually thin-set.
2. Add the sill. Typically made from the main wall tile you will be using, or a piece of marble, this is the first thing you will add to your shower niche and will be built upon as we keep adding more steps.
3. Comb the adhesive to the back of the niche wall. Mix the adhesive as per the manufactures instructions. Once ready you can begin to comb it onto the niche wall as well as the sill. Make sure that when you are adding the ridges that they can stand up and are not sagging.
4. Apply a back butter to the sill tile. While you already have some adhesive on the wall, it will not be enough to hold the title to it, so you have to apply some to the back of the tile as well.
5. Add the tile to the sill. Push the tile into the adhesive in the niche so that they both bond together. An important feature that you may not know about is that the bottom of the niche should be sloping slightly by around 1/16 inches towards the shower floor. This ensures that water does not collect in the niche instead, which can cause mildew and mold issues.
6. Measure the level of the sill. If you have a laser level, it will come in very handy here. If you don’t then a small spirit level will work just as well. Use one of these tools to make sure that the sill tile is level before moving on to the next step.
7. Add the tile mosaic to the back of the niche. When adding the tile, embed them completely in the adhesive and make sure that you are using a grout float as well. While some of the adhesives will be pushed out between the tiles, this can easily be cleaned up and cut away with a small knife. Use horseshoe shims to help you piece together tile mosaics if you have to.
8. Add the top tile. When adding this tile, make sure that the factory edges of the tile are faking outward, as this will give it a cleaner look. A top tile will also let you cover any mistakes to your back tile if you had to cut it too close to the top of the niche.
9. Make sure the top tile is level. Again, use either the laser level or spirit level.
10. Measure the dimensions for the side tiles, then cut to size. Due to the slope on the sill tiles, you will have to cut the bottom of the side tiles at an angle to make sure that they fit properly.
11. Tile the rest of your shower. Once the niche is all done, you’re free to get on with decorating the rest of your shower.
Biggest Mistakes To Avoid When Installing A Niche
Now you know how to install a shower niche, here are the biggest mistakes you should try your best to avoid.
Make Sure The Whole Area Is Waterproofed
When a bespoke niche is well-built, it might appear to be quite solid and waterproof. If the niche has been tiled and grouted properly, then you may think that there is nothing to worry about.
The issue is that constant water exposure and humidity can make parts of the shower move slightly.
Without waterproofing, this movement can cause your tiles to crack and break easily. The cracks will also let moisture into your walls which can cause mold and damp.
Never Compromise The Wall Structure
No matter how much you want a shower niche in your bathroom, if your walls cannot handle it then you should not build one.
The risk of damage to your walls is much higher if you are installing a horizontal niche rather than the typical small square one.
While this offers a lot more storage, as it will usually have to be placed on the back shower wall, there is a chance that this could be a load-bearing wall.
If you still want this type of niche in your shower, then it’s best to get a contractor in to build it rather than you doing it yourself.
They will be able to add the correct structural framing to the wall to make sure that no damage is caused, and will also make sure that the shelf itself stays straight and rigid.
Should You DIY It?
Considering that shower niches are known to cause moisture issues in bathrooms, like mold or damp, you may be wondering if they are even worth the hassle of installing.
However, as long as the area is properly waterproofed, and the niche has been installed correctly, then these issues are very unlikely to happen.
If you are unsure if you can install a niche properly, then to help save your home from mold issues it might be better to hire a professional to build it for you.