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Unread 04-04-2008, 09:39 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 4
Shower/Tub Surround Tile Advice

I apologize if this topic is on the site but I did a search and did not find anything.

I am ready to tile my tub/shower surround after installing all of my backer board. I had tile picked out from the local big box store.....American Olean glazed ceramic. I was ready to purchase and then backed away as I was concerned whether or not the tile was going to be acceptable for the wet application. The water absorption percentage on this particular tile was 3%. It was labeled as "ceramic floor tile" which I was not aware of until I was ready to load the tile on the cart. The vested employee could not help me one bit, as if that is surprising.

The questions are:

1. What makes a good tile for shower and what is recommended? I don't want to spend more than $4.50/sf for the tile.
2. Does sealing a ceramic tile as described above make up for the water absorption?
3. Is it recommended to check out a tile store in lieu of the big box?

I welcome all advice. I don't want my bathroom remodel to be compromised by tile that I can't trust.

Thanks for all of the help.
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Unread 04-06-2008, 01:03 AM   #2
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welcome, Pat - sorry you haven't gotten a response, so I'll give it a go and maybe someone else will chip in.

first, sealers don't waterproof. they just help prevent stains from penetrating.

"best" shower tile is relative, and people use softer material than your 3% all the time - you just have to know how to deal with it. Porcelain is more water resistant (0.5%) so should be better for maintenance.

floor tile is generally harder than "wall" tile and is used quite a lot in showers around here.

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Unread 04-06-2008, 06:42 AM   #3
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Location: SE Tennessee
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Hi Pat.

What Art said. I think those tiles you chose are plenty suitable.

I'll add this: A properly constructed shower/tub surround does not rely on tile and grout to be waterproof. Instead, the substrate beneath the tile is waterproof.

You are using cement backer board. Did you put a moisture barrier behind it, or will you use a surface applied membrane like RedGard?
Dan - a DIYer in SE Tennessee
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Unread 04-07-2008, 08:29 PM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Milwaukee, WI
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Thanks for the help.

As far as the substrate goes, I laid hardibacker on top of felt. I was not planning on adding anything to the hardibacker as I have read elsewhere that a possible sandwich moisture scenario can be occur. As a note that I realized after I nailed my backer board up, I did not seal the laps of the felt as I intended but lapped the felt every bit of 6", if not 8". Would this be an issue? If so, should I also apply Redguard or the like?

So I went to a local tile shop and purchased what is essentially wall tile. It was much more expensive than what I mentioned earlier. I think my wife preferred the other tile as it would give a little more color contrast/design that she wanted.

If I understand what you guys were saying, there wouldn't be any issues with using the floor tile on the walls and the 3% absorption isn't an issue?

What was meant by "just have to know how to deal with it"?

thanks again.
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Unread 04-07-2008, 08:49 PM   #5
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generally you can use floor tile on the walls but you cans put wall tiles on the floor. i think you would be fine with any tile on the walls as long as it is bonded with thinset the kind ya mix up w/ water

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Unread 04-07-2008, 10:29 PM   #6
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Welcome, Pat.

Your tile, if it has an absorption rate of only three percent, is a Vitreous tile and more than adequate for use in your shower. The only class of tiles less absorptive than those would be actual porcelain tiles with an absorption of 0.5 percent or less, as Art pointed out.

The Hardibacker over roofing felt is fine for the walls so long as the felt is properly lapped over the flange of the tub.

My opinion; worth price charged.

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