Shower Question (shelf, niche) [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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07-22-2004, 08:44 AM
Good Morning All,
I am building a shower (tile with mud pan) and I am wondering what options there are for shelves in a shower. Most fiberglass units have shelves etc, for soap shampoo bottles and the like. I saw photos of a shower construction here that had 2 niches in it. They are OK and look great, but from a construction standpoint I don't think I want to go there. Seems like there could easily be some leakage out into to wall area. Are there ceramic type things available to "tile" right onto the cement board. I thought of pehaps a couple or three triangular corner shelves out of ???material (glass, marble, Lexan) or 1 shelf across the narrow way on the end (approx 42")
I guess I'm just needing options or suggestions. Seems like a shelf would need some sort of lip on the front to keep things from getting knocked or sliding off (ie;wet bar of soap), especially if it is tapered for drainage. perhaps there are photos here I haven't found yet that you could point me to. We just don't want to have to hang a wal-mart shower caddy in our new creation :)


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07-22-2004, 09:39 AM

Try these three links.....Good luck.

The following link is where you can get a different brand but I'm not sure where the manufacturer's website is


07-22-2004, 11:07 AM

I found the manufacturer of the Recess-It niches.....


07-22-2004, 12:06 PM
Sure, there are ceramic corner shelves available that can be installed with your wall tile (thinset to cement backer board).

Our Lowes has them available in a couple of basic colors. Your local tile store should have a catalog available.

Just as an example, see the following link:

I'm sure there are probably non-ceramic types of shelves available as well. Niches are all the rage these days, so installing a corner shelf is less common.

John Bridge
07-22-2004, 06:39 PM
Hi Ken,

The Pro Form niches from Noble Company are excellent. It's not all that hard to build and waterproof your own, though. I'm working on one right now that is waterproofed with Kerdi. Any membrane will work, though.

07-23-2004, 08:08 AM

I am building a niche of my own with Kerdi also. I've been wondering where do you get those custom rounded shelves like the one in the photo you posted? And what material is it made out of? On the bottom shelf where I'm assuming soap may end up, how much is it sloped and what slope can you get away with without causing the soap to slide off?



07-23-2004, 10:59 AM
Ken, another option is to make corner shelves out of granite, large tiles, or some other solid surface material. Tile them into the corner as you tile the walls. Once you have the tiles set, you won't be able to remove the shelves.

John Bridge
07-23-2004, 08:04 PM
Hi Drew,

We make those little shelves out a marble tile we buy from Home Depot. ;) I mark it out and Abert cuts it and polishes it.

You slope the shelves just barely out of level. Actually, they won't shed water at all, but water will not collect at the back, either. Buy a clear plastic soap "cradle" to place on the bottom shelf. Don't put you soap directly on the shelf. It'll slide off. :D

04-03-2005, 08:13 AM
Do you use that variable speed angle grinder to do that kind of cutting and polishing? If so, I'ld love to surprise DH with a new tool for his birthday! What models at the big box stores are reasonable for such a task? We've got about 250 sq feet of marble to install - and about 40 linear feet of edging to polish - plus 3 rounded shelves. So far, we've used a home cheapo wet saw to cut marble tiles for a couple of smaller bathrooms and to cut kitchen granite tiles - had the edges polished at the supplier.

John Bridge
04-03-2005, 09:02 PM

We've gotten so good at making those little shelves we don't use any sort of grinder. It's very possible to get a reasonable "rough" shape on the wet saw. From that point we'll use a tile rubbing stone to knock off the high spots, and then we move on to sandpaper and wet/dry cloth. Work up to about 400 (maybe 600 grit). We carry a little bottle of oxalic acid because we're lazy and don't want to go up to 1,000 grit and beyond. ;)

Ask one of the stone people around here about oxalic acid. It'll work on marble and marble-like stone such as travertine, but it won't work with granite. If you go with granite you've got to do it all by polishing.

Here are a couple shelves made from green marble. No grinder, just hand tools after the intitial cutting. :)

04-04-2005, 09:46 AM
I think the rounded shelves look so elegant. we'll give it a try. we haven't even kerdied yet, so it will be awhile. thanks for the close up pictures. :bow:

04-04-2005, 11:54 AM
How do you get the shelf to stay in place? Can you put it in AFTER you have tiled the inside of your niche? My husband put a diamond pattern on the back of the niche so how would you do that? And I cannot wait till I get home to show him the picture of the niche-- he was wondering how you did the edge. Thanks John Maryl

04-04-2005, 12:56 PM
John (Oops, I meant Ken),

I just finished re-doing our shower using the Innovis recessed niched. I don't recommend using them. The Noble products appear to be better. As a first time DIY'er I didn't do enough research to find alternatives and just went with the first thing I found.

I appears to have been a mistake. All angles of the niche are sloped way to dramatically. I'm hoping I don't have to velcro the shampoo bottle in place to make sure it doesn't slide off.

Good luck,


John Bridge
04-04-2005, 06:04 PM
If we have something tricky like diagonals on the back wall, we don't set the shelf into the back, only the ends or sides of the niche. The shelf just goes up against the back wall, not into it.

I tile the back of the niche and the sides up to the level of the shelf, insert the shelf and load everthing else on top of it as I tile the rest of the way up. I usually put in the top (ceiling) last. I'll see if I can find a pic that shows the process better. :)

This niche has mosaics for the back wall. The shelf doesn't go into them on this one. You can see the the shelf is resting on the side pieces, locked in by the bullnose.

Rd Tile
04-04-2005, 06:23 PM
Nice work.:)

04-05-2005, 12:47 AM
So then do you silicone caulk the back edge of the shelf when you don't set it in the tile? You don't set in the diagonals and the small mosaics because of small size pieces that will result and getting the 'continuous' grout line in diagonals? 'Continuous' like Richie's herringbone kitchen backplash.

I too am a big fan of your niches. You really make fantastic work of them. Do you really think a DIYer can create a curved shelf like the ones you've displayed here by hand? :yipee:

I understand rough cutting it with the saw, the rubbing stone (though I've never seen one), and the sandpaper. But what is oxalic acid and how is it used and what does it do, where to buy...???

John Bridge
04-05-2005, 08:08 AM
I was waiting for someone to ask about oxalic acid. It's an old trick. You act like you're polishing a shoe (if anybody does that these days). Wrap a rag over the end of your finger and wet it. Then dip it into a bit of oxalic (powder). You can now rub the heck out of the edge of the marble with the acid powder and shine the stone. The stone has to be pretty shiny from the sanding prior to the acid. Also, you have to be careful not to rub the acid onto the flat surface of the stone. It will cause blemishes in the factory finish. Oxalic won't burn you, though. It's just a little stronger than vinegar. You can buy it at a real paint store.

Using wet/dry paper in decending grits down to about 1000 will accomplish the best finish. No need for oxalic. :)

Yes, I know newbies can shape the shelves. Newbies can do anything. Might take them a week, but as many of our pictures attest, newbies can turn out professional looking jobs. :)

06-07-2005, 11:36 AM
hi guys!

ok i'm just at the stage where i need to put in my little shelves. for one reason or another, there was no room for niches, so instead, i got 3 pieces of 3/4" thick marble that matches the floor in the bathroom. they are about 8" square with a 1" dia round corner. i just have a couple questions.

1. how high are they supposed to be? are there any rules? 36" and 48" okay?
2. since i have 3 pieces, should i put them all on one corner? or two different corners? i was thinking the soap one could be a little away from the running water.

3. what should i do to temporarilly support them as the thinset dries? i was thinking i'd screw a little mitered piece of 2x4 into the corner under it and leave it in until it was time to tile there then fill the holes with a little silicon then thinset... is that okay?

oh and i guess i should mention i'm doing this RIGHT NOW and so i'm standing at the computer hoping for an answer right away O:-) :yipee: :crazy:

07-07-2007, 09:11 PM
How thick are the marble tiles used in these shelves that that you bought at home depot?