Can Backsplash Tile Be Used in Shower?

Choosing the Right Backsplash Tiles for Showers

Not all backsplash tiles are suitable for shower installations. When selecting tiles, consider:

Water Resistance

Choose backsplash tiles rated for water and moisture exposure. Porcelain, ceramic, and natural stone tiles (like granite) are excellent choices. Avoid unglazed tiles and porous, absorbent materials.

Slip Resistance

Look for tiles with rough textures and surfaces that provide friction. A tile’s coefficient of friction (COF) rating indicates slip resistance – the higher the COF, the better. Aim for 0.5 and up. Mosaics generally offer better traction.

Size and Shape

Smaller tiles like mosaics provide more grout lines, creating added traction underfoot. Larger tiles have fewer grout lines that can collect mildew and grime over time. A mix of small and large tiles can achieve both benefits.

Ease of Cleaning

Smooth, glossy tiles resist staining and are easy to wipe clean. Textured surfaces require more routine scrubbing to remove soap scum and hard water buildup.


Backsplash tiles come in every color, material, finish and pattern for endless design possibilities. Glass, metal, and stone mosaic tiles make excellent shower accents.

Preparing and Waterproofing Surfaces

Proper prep and waterproofing is crucial when tiling shower walls:

  • Clean surfaces thoroughly and repair any damage. Use self-leveling compound if walls are uneven.
  • Apply a waterproof membrane like RedGard or Kerdi over walls and floors. Seal seams and edges.
  • Use thinset mortar modified for better adhesion to wet areas.
  • Opt for epoxy grout instead of regular grout. It resists moisture and won’t discolor.
  • Caulk all joints with mildew-resistant silicone sealant designed for wet regions.

Tiling Techniques and Layouts

  • Smaller mosaic tiles allow for more creative patterns like herringbone designs. Larger tiles can be installed in a brick pattern.
  • Incorporate tile accents like borders, niches and geometric designs. Use contrasting colors and textures.
  • Install tiles vertically instead of horizontally to make walls appear taller. Horizontal layouts give a wider appearance.
  • Wrap tiles around outside corners for a seamless finish. Use bullnose edge tiles on wall edges and niches.
  • Slope tiles slightly inwards to prevent water from pooling on grout lines.

Grout Care and Maintenance

Grout seals out moisture but requires proper maintenance:

  • Apply grout sealer after installation and reapply yearly. This prevents staining and damage.
  • Check grout lines regularly for cracks or gaps. Re-grout if needed to keep water out.
  • Clean grout routinely with a soft brush and mild cleaner. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.
  • Allow grout lines to fully dry after showering to prevent mildew growth.

Benefits of Using Backsplashes in Showers

Installing backsplash tile on shower walls provides many advantages:

  • Visual Interest – Backsplashes create eye-catching focal points with tons of design possibilities.
  • Waterproofing – Tiles provide a water-resistant surface that won’t swell or deteriorate like drywall.
  • Easy Maintenance – Tile is durable and easily cleaned with routine wiping.
  • Enhanced Safety – Textured tiles provide better traction than slippery fiberglass surrounds.
  • Customization – Tile allows you to mix colors, patterns, materials and layouts.
  • Resale Value – Tile showers add value and appeal versus cheaper surrounds.

So don’t limit backsplash tile to just the kitchen! With proper prep and design, backsplashes can make stunning shower accent walls.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I install backsplash tile directly over existing shower walls?

No, tiles require a smooth, waterproof substrate. You would need to remove old shower walls first and install appropriate backerboard and waterproofing.

What’s the best way to cut backsplash tiles for shower installations?

Use a wet saw with a diamond blade specifically for tile. For intricate cuts, a tile nipper tool works well. Always wear protective gear when cutting tile.

Do backsplash tiles require sealing in shower installations?

Porous, natural stone tiles need regular sealing to prevent staining and water absorption. Glazed ceramic and porcelain tiles don’t require sealing.

How do I remove soap scum and hard water buildup from backsplash tiles?

Use a non-abrasive pH neutral cleaner and soft scrub brush. Avoid harsh chemicals and scouring pads that can damage grout and tile coatings.

Can I install both backsplash tile and prefabricated shower surrounds?

Yes, many surrounds have areas designed for accent tile. Just ensure proper waterproofing under the tiles. An overlap flange will also hide transition lines.


Backsplash tiles offer the perfect decorative touch for showers when installed correctly. Focus on choosing appropriate waterproof tile materials, proper substrate prep, top-quality installation, routine cleaning and sealing when needed. This allows backsplashes to protect shower walls while providing eye-catching style. With some careful planning and effort, backsplash tile can transform any shower into a stunning, luxurious space.