Jeff Patterson, of the Home Repair Tutor, shares tips on how to install a tile floor next to a curbless shower.
Patterson says the first step is to assess the kind of floor that the tile will lay on and making sure the floor is level before making any serious moves. In this instance, he is working with a wood subfloor. After laying down a Strata Mat as an isolation membrane to prevent cracking, he choose to waterproof the floor with a Hydro Barrier layer.
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Patterson says he dry fits the tiles to make sure they line up with each other and to position them correctly with the entrance and shower. He then used 4XLT modified thin-set mortar to bond the 12-by-24-inch tiles to the Strata Mat.
The most important detail to keep in mind with a curbless shower is to know where the shower will start and make sure that the tiles are square with the shower pan, according to Patterson.
Watch the video to learn more tips and see the entire demo.
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In this video we’re going to share tips on how to tile a bathroom floor if it’s right next to a curbless shower. We’re really happy with how this bathroom floor turned out. Whether or not you’ve got a curbless shower or a curbed shower, the tips in this video are going to help you out on your project. For this project we used Laticrete’s 4-XLT.
It’s a modified thinset mortar. It has really good bond strength. It’s important to read the back of the bag and follow the directions to a tee. So we added the water, and we mixed it, and then we let it slake per the directions. We also used a Euro trowel for these 12x24 tiles, and we made sure that our floor was completely flat and level.
Now, in our prior projects and videos we used 4-XLT to bond STRATA_MAT to our wood subfloor. So there’s STRATA_MAT on top of our wood subfloor. This is going to be an isolation membrane that’ll help our tile not crack over time. And then we waterproofed that using HYDRO BARRIER. So make sure to watch our prior videos.
One of the most important things for the curbless shower is to denote where you want your shower entrance to start. So in this case it’s 30.” We have out square there. We’re making sure that the first few tiles in the main bathroom floor area are nice and square with that entrance area. The other thing is we’re going to offset this pattern by 1/3. So these
12x24s, we’re going to offset them by thirds, and this will help reduce tile lippage in the main bathroom floor area, which is really important.
So as you can see here, we’re going to dry fit most of these tiles to make sure that our pattern looks good. And we’re going to finish the tile just underneath the bathroom door. That way the transition won’t look weird. And we also want to make sure that we don’t have a grout joint as soon as you walk into the bathroom. Our preference is to not have that happen. There was an air vent in the bathroom floor, so we cut that out of our porcelain tile using the Fein WSG 7 angle grinder and the Montolit CGX115 diamond blade for porcelain tile. Also, wear a silica dust respirator when doing this.
We like the Sundstrom dust respirator. We cut away a little of the HYDRO BARRIER on top of the floor there. We wiped it down with a sponge to make it clean. And then we burned the thinset into the top of the floor with the flat side of the trowel and then use directional troweling to make sure that we had enough thinset on top of the STRATA_MAT for our tile.
When you get these tile it’s a good thing to always look at the back and just make sure that they don’t have an arrow indicator—like this one does. These do have arrow indicators, basically meaning that you want to have all the tile facing in that same direction. So whichever way you want to point tile, just keep them all going in that direction. So there must be some kind of pattern on the front that they want to have a certain look to it. So I have all my tile sitting here, all arrows pointing up and basically points them towards the front door. Back butter the back side of the trowel. Because this is a wet area, the back of the tiles are back buttered and covered about 95% to 100% with thinset mortar.
And we’re going to make sure we have our 30”. Again, I am not concerned about what this wall looks like. I’m more concerned about staying square with my shower. So I’m just using my square as a straight edge for it and then just making sure that I hold my 30”. We are going to be using that square throughout this project. As you saw, Steve wiped away excess thinset against the edge of the tile because we are going to be using T-lock clips. And we’re back buttering our large tile and setting it in place. And it’s a good idea to, on a large format tile, kind of just wiggle this a little bit to collapse those ridges. We are going to use some of these leveling clips. These help keep things flush with one another.
T-lock also helps eliminate tile lippage, and that’s when one tile’s higher or lower than the other. And the clips have the grout spacer in them. As you could see here, Steve is using a little linoleum knife to clean out those grout joints—super important here in this project. And we’re going to continue to check the edge of this tile that’s meeting up with the interior portion of the shower pan just to make sure that it’s square and 30”. So again, we’re adding our clips. We’re back buttering our tiles with the flat side of the trowel. And then we’re setting that tile and compressing all the ridges that are on the floor and then adding the T-lock wedges. When you add the wedges, you still need to make sure that those tiles are clean. Also that in this case the tiles are about ¼” away from the drywall, and then we’re getting our measurement.
For this project we used basically two cutting tools: the MasterPiuma tile cutter, as you saw there. And we’re getting our measurement here for the door jam, again leaving about a ¼” gap between the tile and the door jam. The second tool that we are going to use to make this L-cut is an angle grinder. So you saw the angle grinder at the beginning of this tutorial. We’re using it throughout. And again, it’s just the Fein WSG 7 with the Montolit CGX115 diamond blade, specifically for porcelain and ceramic. So you always want to get that blade up to full speed before you make your cut. And again we’re just leaving our expansion and contraction joint here between the tile and the door jam.
Here we’re adding our clips. We used three clips per elongated side of a 12x24 and two clips for the short side, so the 12” side. So that’s our preference. And then we’re just using our directional troweling here, back buttering, and setting the tile like we did before. You can use your hands or you can use this gun, whichever you need. I find myself being able to use my fingers pretty easily on here.
And again, I’m just using my square. I just really want this front edge to the shower being nice and square and even. So when I put my mosaic tile here, it’s a nice, straight line. So as you see here, we’re back buttering again, trying to maintain our 95% to 100% coverage on the bottom of the tile. We’re adding out T-lock. And there is a method to the T-lock. You definitely want all the wedges to face the same direction if possible. And the reason why, as you go to compress the wedge, you’re going to be compressing that grout joint together and making it nice and tight. So here we are. We’re using the MasterPiuma by Montolit, and we really like this tool. It’s a little bit more expensive. It’s an investment. But if you can get one, it’s probably the best tile cutter that you can possibly buy with your money.
So there we’re just making sure that tile actually is flush with the threshold in the doorway. We actually encountered a little bit of a problem with that threshold entrance, but we’ll address that later in the video. And as you see here, we’re making the wedges face the same direction. So all the wedges should be facing that same direction so that your grout joint maintains a consistent spacing throughout the tile setting process. So here we have to make a little moon-shaped cut into the tile using our angle grinder. As you can see here, we’re getting our measurement for the other tile that’s going to be adjacent to the wall. Again, we’re making our moon-shaped cut with our angle grinder here. This one isn’t as severe, so it’s a little bit straighter than the other one. And then we’re making our final cut on this L-shape piece of tile that’ll go against the door jam. We’re adding our clips.
We’re back buttering this. And setting it in place. Okay, so next day you want to hit all your T-lock clips parallel with the clip holder. So we’re just hitting along the grout joint, and that’ll just snap it off. We highly recommend removing the clips and the wedges the day after setting your tile. It’s so much easier to do it then. Also, you can reuse the wedges, which is the cool thing about T-lock.
The leveling clips really help out getting everything nice and level, but it does create a lot more cleanup. So having a little object like this 5.11 or this linoleum carpet knife really makes it easy to scrape the joints. Probably you want to be careful with not to tweak it or turn it sideway and chip your tile. It can sometimes be really easy to just tweak this and easily chip the tile. If you want to see how to build a curbless shower like the one in today’s tutorial, check out all of our videos in the Bathroom Repair Tutor video library. We’ll put a link to it right here. They’re awesome.
Not only do we show you how to put in all the waterproofing, but we show you how to tile step-by-step and what materials and tools make this so much easier. Thanks for watching our video today. If you got any questions, ask them down in the comments, and we’re happy to help you out. Take care.