What is Backsplash Tile?
Backsplash tile refers to small decorative tiles, usually 4 inches by 4 inches or smaller. They are commonly used on kitchen backsplashes and range from ceramic, porcelain, glass, mosaic, and stone tiles. Backsplash tiles come in endless colors, textures, finishes, and materials.
Backsplash tiles are water-resistant and easy to clean, making them suitable for kitchens and bathrooms. Their small size also allows intricate designs and patterns.
Can You Use Backsplash Tile in a Shower?
Yes, you can absolutely use backsplash tile in showers. Backsplash tiles are waterproof and resistant to humidity and moisture. Their small size also enables installment on shower walls with grout lines, creating a water barrier.
When properly sealed and installed, backsplash tile makes an excellent accent wall for showers. It adds visual interest, character, and pops of color. Backsplash tiles also have an artisanal, handmade look compared to larger format tiles.
Benefits of Using Backsplash Tile in Showers
- Stylish and unique: Backsplash tile allows for more design flexibility with colors, shapes, and accents. Mosaics and mixed tiles create one-of-a-kind patterns.
- Waterproof surface: Backsplash tiles are impervious to water with proper installation and grout sealing.
- Easy to clean: The glassy smooth surface of backsplash tile resists soap scum, mildew, and grime.
- Durable material: Ceramic, porcelain, or stone backsplash tiles withstand humidity, steam, and daily wear-and-tear.
- Affordable: Backsplash tile is an budget-friendly alternative to large-format tiles.
- Quick installation: The small tile size speeds up installation compared to large tiles.
What to Consider Before Installing Backsplash Tile in Shower
Before installing backsplash tile in your shower, keep these key considerations in mind:
Backsplash tiles must be installed over waterproof backerboard, not regular drywall. Cement backerboard or fiber-cement backerboard provides a moisture-resistant base.
Small Accent Area Only
Limit backsplash tile to a portion of the shower walls, such as 1-2 walls or just as an accent strip. Completely tiling a shower with backsplash tile can look busy. Focus it in a key area for best visual effect.
Proper Sealing and Grouting
Use waterproof grout and sealants made specifically for showers. Seal the grout and tiles periodically to prevent moisture seeping through.
Consider hiring a professional tile installer experienced with shower tile installation. They can ensure proper waterproofing and prevent leaks.
Step-by-Step Guide to Installing Backsplash Tile in Shower
Follow this step-by-step guide for successfully installing backsplash tile in your shower:
1. Prepare the Shower Walls
Remove any existing shower wall coverings down to the studs. Install cement backerboard per manufacturer’s instructions. The seams should be waterproofed with mesh tape and thinset.
2. Plan Your Tile Layout
Dry lay the pattern of backsplash tiles to map out placement. Mix tiles and lay them randomly for the best effect.
3. Apply Waterproof Membrane
Before setting tile, coat the cement backerboard with a waterproofing membrane like RedGard. Apply thinset over the membrane.
4. Install the Backsplash Tiles
Following your layout, set the backsplash tiles in the thinset adhesive. Use plastic spacers for even grout lines. Let tiles set 24 hours.
5. Grout the Backsplash Tiles
Mix flexible, waterproof grout. Apply over the tiles, pushing into joints. Wipe excess grout with a sponge and allow drying completely.
6. Seal the Grout
Once cured, seal the grout lines with a waterproof grout sealer. Apply sealant every 1-2 years.
7. Apply Caulking
Caulk where the backsplash tile meets the tub, shower pan, or other surrounding surfaces with flexible silicone caulk.
Maintaining Backsplash Tile in Showers
With proper maintenance, backsplash tile showers stay beautiful and waterproof for years:
- Seal grout and tile seams annually with waterproof grout sealer.
- Immediately wipe down shower walls after use to prevent soap scum buildup.
- Occasionally deep clean with an alkaline tile cleaner to remove residue and grime.
- Avoid abrasive cleaners, scouring pads, or harsh chemicals that can damage the tile surface.
- Check for any cracked, missing, or loose grout and re-apply as needed to prevent moisture seeping behind tiles.
Best Materials for Shower Backsplash Tiles
The most waterproof, durable options for shower backsplash tiles include:
- Porcelain – Extremely water resistant with higher flexural strength.
- Glass mosaic – Completely waterproof and easy to clean.
- Ceramic – Budget-friendly but prone to some moisture absorption. Use epoxy grout.
- Stone (granite, marble) – Withstands humidity but requires intensive sealing.
Avoid highly porous tiles like terracotta or saltillo which can allow water penetration over time. Always check the manufacturer’s specifications on water absorption ratings.
Alternatives to Backsplash Tiles for Shower Walls
If backsplash tile isn’t right for your shower, consider these alternative wall coverings:
- Solid surface panels – Seamless and waterproof panels like Corian.
- Large format tiles – Larger 12″ x 24″ porcelain or ceramic tiles. Easier to install than small backsplash tile.
- Natural stone slabs – Marble, travertine, or other stone cut into large panels. Requires professional installation.
- Glass blocks – Small translucent glass bricks create a privacy screen.
- Poured plaster – Cement-based plaster creates a seamless, sleek wall finish.
Backsplash Tile Shower Accent Wall Inspiration
Backsplash tile in showers can elevate a plain wall into a stunning focal point. Here are some gorgeous examples and ideas:
- Contrasting grout color – White or gray grout makes the tile colors pop.
- Geometric patterns – Herringbone, hexagons, or brick patterns add interest.
- Borders and insets – Line the shower edges with mosaic tile trim.
- Mix tile shapes – Combine subways, dots, squares, and penny tiles.
- Accent strip – A bold row of mosaics contrasting the other walls.
- Textured tiles – Handpainted tiles or ones with pebbled or crackled glazes.
With the right design choices, backsplash tile can make your shower a stylish centerpiece. Carefully consider tile material, layout, prep work, and installation method for best results. With proper maintenance, your backsplash tile shower can provide an elegant, waterproof accent wall that withstands the humidity of daily use.
Frequently Asked Questions About Using Backsplash Tile In Showers
Can you putbacksplash tile in a shower?
Yes, backsplash tile can be installed in shower walls as an accent area. Backsplash tiles are waterproof and well-suited for humid environments when properly sealed and maintained.
What tiles are best for shower walls?
Porcelain, ceramic, marble, granite, and glass tile are commonly used for shower walls. Choose tiles with low water absorption. Porcelain and glass are very water resistant.
How do you waterproof backsplash tile in a shower?
Install cement backerboard, apply a waterproof membrane, use waterproof grout and sealants, caulk seams and edges, and regularly seal the grout lines and tiles.
Can you put backsplash tile floor to ceiling in a shower?
It’s possible but not always ideal as it can look very busy. Consider just doing a portion of the walls in backsplash tile. Large format tiles work better for full wall coverage.
Do you need glass doors with a backsplash tile shower?
Glass doors help contain water spray but aren’t strictly necessary. Be sure to waterproof the walls and grout properly so water does not seep through.
Installing backsplash tile in a shower accent wall can provide a pop of color, textures, and patterns with proper prep and waterproofing. Focus on a key portion of the wall as a backsplash tile feature area for best visual effect. With regular sealing and cleaning, backsplash tile adds a stylish, durable, and water-resistant finish to enhance any shower space.