Wall Tiles

Do you tile walls or floors first?

Retiling your shower is a relatively affordable and fast way to update the look of your bathroom dramatically. Tile generally loses its decorative appeal well before it wears out, so there is a good chance that your shower’s tile is giving your bathroom a dated look. As you begin searching for the right tiles to install in your shower, you need to learn more about the installation process. By learning whether to tile shower floor or walls first, you can gain a better understanding of the scope of the project.

Are you tiling the bathroom? Should you start tiling a shower floor or wall first? Welcome to the great debate.

There are many reasons why you should do one or the other first.

And, many have sound arguments. But, which way is the right way?

The answer is: there is no right way. So, here are the arguments for both.

Whether you are tiling your kitchen, bathroom, living area or hallway, there are certain rules to follow to achieve a durable, attractive look at the end of your refurbishment project.

Our guide will take you through the core ideas and tips around how to tile both walls and floors and answer common questions, such as which should you tile first and which equipment you need?

Looking for the best tiling renovations? Look no further! Hitch Property Constructions has you covered.

Why It Matters Whether You Tile Shower Floor Or Walls First

Depending on which resources you locate online or which experts who you contact for a recommendation, you will hear different answers to this question. The reality is that there are pros and cons associated with installing the tile on the walls or floor first. Your method can directly impact the amount of time that it takes to complete your project, the skill required and what the finished project looks like.

Floor Tiles

Tiling a Shower Floor First

What are the main reasons why you should do the floor first? The wall tiles should overlap the floor. And, that can’t happen if the wall tiles are already installed. At least, not without some careful planning first.

However, professional tilers will disagree with this. If you tile the floor first, you may accidentally damage the new floor by dropping things on it. This may result in cracked tile. Or, difficult-to-remove mortar drops when tiling the wall.

If you prefer doing the shower floor first, you can avoid accidental accidents by covering the new floor tile. Use paper or cloth to protect the new tiles.

Professional tile installation generally utilizes a method where the tile wall hangs over the tile floor. The only way that this can happen without detailed planning and careful measurements are by installing the tile on the floor of the shower first. Despite this sound logic, some tile installation experts avoid installing the tile floor first. This is because tile and mortar may fall onto the floor when you are working on the walls. This can damage the tile floor that you have just installed. You can prevent this type of damage when you protect the tile floor with a protective cloth while you install tile on the wall.

Keep in mind, however, that you must allow the tile mortar to completely set before you stand on it to install the tile wall. With this in mind, tiling the floor first can extend your project timeline.

Tiling the Wall First

Why should you tile the wall first? It’s time-efficient. At least, that’s what many tilers believe.

So, to accommodate the flooring tile, many like to leave a small gap between the last row of wall tile and floor. Some like to use a ledger or other space saver to indicate where your missing row should be.

And, after installing the floor tile, you can install that final, or first, a row of wall tile. Or, fill the gap with grout. Additionally, you can also cut the tile to fill the gap between floor and wall.

But, keep in mind that improperly trimmed tiles and excessive grout doesn’t just look unsightly. It can also compromise the integrity of your waterproofing.

Because the wall tile should hang over the floor tile, it can be more complicated to install tile on the wall first. However, starting your project with tile installation on the walls first can help you to avoid unfortunate messes and damage related to mishaps with the mortar and tile.

To properly install the wall tile first, you will need to account for the wall tile hanging over the floor tile. One method that professionals use to accomplish this is to utilize a space saver or ledger to leave a space for the floor tile to be installed later. If you utilize this method, you will need to install the floor tile closest to the wall before laying other floor tiles.

While there is a relatively easy solution for accounting for the wall tile overhang situation using this method, keep in mind that the tiles must be cut precisely to ensure beautiful results. The wall and floor tiles near the corner, as well as the thickness of the grout, must be precisely measured, and the lines must be smooth and even. In addition to impacting the overall finished look of the project, gaps in these areas can impair waterproofing efforts.

A Mix of Both Philosophies

Ideally, you may want to try a mixture of both ways. What you want to do is tile the walls starting with the second row and work up from there. The first row near the floor should be reserved using a ledger or other space saver. And, let that dry.

Meanwhile, install your floor tiles to the wall. And then, finish by installing that final row of wall tiles so that it overlaps the floor properly. This works seamlessly if you have level flooring.

Unfortunately, not all shower stalls and surfaces are uniformly level. And, your tiling strategy may depend on the type and size of the tiles you are using, too.

How to Blend Both Methods

If you are still confused about whether to install tile shower floor or walls first for your do-it-yourself project, the good news is that you do not necessarily need to fully tile the floor or the wall first. Instead, you can use a hybrid method. Begin the installation project by starting with the second row of wall tile. A space saver can be used to mark off the area reserved for the first row of tile. Work your way up the wall. Once you have finished installing the wall tile, you can install the floor tiles to the wall and underneath the space savers. To finish the tile installation project, you can lay the final row of tile at the bottom of the wall.

Tiling a Bathroom: What You’ll Need

Before you start tiling your bathroom, there’s a few things (besides the tiles!) you’ll need. First of all, you’ll need to gear up with the right tools and equipment,

Besides the tools, you also need the right glues, grouts, sealers and waterproofers and levelling systems for the job. Use the link below to download the full list of products we recommend for a DIY bathroom. Feel free to ask the tiling experts at your local Beaumonts store if you have any questions.

Prepare Your Bathroom for Tiling

The state of the surface strongly influences the quality of your bathroom tiling you tile over, so it’s important to ensure that your bathroom walls and floor are sound, level and clean of dust and debris before you start tiling.

Most bathroom floor surfaces are likely to be concrete or timber. Plasterboard is common for walls.


If the concrete is new, it must be allowed to cure for at least 28 days before it’s tiled over. If the concrete is steel-trowelled, it will need to be mechanically roughened (and then thoroughly cleaned) prior to tiling. Otherwise, you will not get enough adhesion.

Any concrete release agents and curing compounds should be removed by mechanical means. If the concrete has cracks larger than 1.5mm, consult your local suppliers for advice before proceeding.


Because timber naturally expands and contracts, we don’t recommend adhering tiles directly onto timber floors. Untreated floors should be primed and allowed to dry before tiling.


Plasterboard is a very common indoor wall surface, but it needs to be waterproofed before being tiled over. Tiling over plasterboard involved adhering tiles to a paper surface. Although this will cause no issues in dry areas, without waterproofing moisture can cause it to deteriorate.

See our guide on wall and floor surfaces for information about tiling over different surfaces.

Prime the Surface for Tiling

Before you start tiling, prepare the surfaces to be tiled by applying a primer using a roller or sponge. We recommend using a water-based primer like Ardex MultiPrime.

Check out our range of tiling renovations Melbourne at Hitch Property Constructions. 

Creating a Shower Hob

If you’re planning to build a new shower hob for your bathroom, after you prime but before you waterproof is the best time to do it. While 900x900mm is a standard size for a shower hob, many people are opting for bigger or even double showers. Follow the steps below to create your shower hob.

  • Step 1: Start by measuring from the walls than out onto the floor, and create a line using a straight edge. Make sure the measurements are parallel and square to the walls. To check you have got it square, measure from corner to corner.
  • Step 2: Build the hob with hebel blocks. You can pick these up from most Beaumont Tile stores. Cut the hebel in half with a handyman saw.
  • Step 3: Stick down the hebel blocks with Abascreed. Pour in the water first to create a sloppy mix. Add the mix along the lines that were drawn earlier and push the hebel down into the cement. Add cement on the ends of the hebel blocks to bind them together. Once this is done, check the levels and remove any excess cement before it dries.
  • Step 4: Before you make the screed, it’s important to mark the fall towards the grate drain. Australian standards state that you have to have at least a 10mm fall every 600mm.
  • Step 5: To pour the screed, tip the pre-mixed bag into the shower area and create a well. Pour in the water and mix it in. A good way to test the consistency is to grab a bit with your hand and let it go – it should stay together.
  • Step 6: Repeat this process until the base is full, and use a level to even out the surface. Don’t forget to ensure the screed lines up with the marks of the fall that were created earlier.
  • Step 7: Once the screen is dry, sweep the area and prime it once more. Then use a Neutral Core Silicone Sealer in all of the internal corners of the shower, including the walls, the floor and the hebel.

Waterproofing Your Bathroom

Waterproofing is a vital step before you tile a bathroom, so it can pay to have a professional do it. But if you want to take a crack and do it yourself, follow the steps below.

  • Step 1: Once your surfaces are primed, use Neutral Core Silicone Sealer to run a generous bead along with all internal corners. Use your finger to finish off the bead.
  • Step 2: Apply Ardex STB Butynol Tape along each corner of your shower, shower hob and along the flushing to ensure no water gets behind the grate drain.
  • Step 3: Use a paint roller to cover the entire wall and floor with waterproofer. Make sure the entire wet area is well waterproofed.
  • Step 4: Wait for the first coat of waterproof membrane to completely dry and apply a second coat. A good tip is to apply the second coat in a 90-degree angle to the first.
  • Step 5: Allow the membrane to dry for at least 24 hours before you start tiling.

Laying Bathroom Tiles

Tiling a bathroom is no more difficult than any other room. Whether you’re tiling a sprawling family bathroom or working within the tighter confines of an ensuite or smaller bathroom, the steps to tile your floor and walls are straightforward.

Unlike floors in other rooms, your bathroom floor may include some “falls” – very slight slopes that allow water to flow towards drains and prevent your bathroom from flooding. These may already be built into the surface you’re tiling over, but if you need to create a fall (like in a shower hob), jump back up to the section on creating a shower hob for the steps.

Tiling your bathroom walls is also a straightforward affair. The only difference between a bathroom and most other rooms is that you’ll probably need to make a few extra cuts to your tiles to make holes for your tapware and plumbing. If you do it yourself rather than getting some help, cutting tiles like this can take a little practice – one of the reasons we recommend getting a few spares when you order your tiles.

Follow the link below to learn how to tile a bathroom wall. To learn how to cut tiles for your bathroom, read on.

Cutting Holes in Tiles for Taps & Fittings

Almost every tiling job will involve cutting tiles at some point: it’s very rare that any wall or floor is just the right size that tiles fit perfectly without the tiles at some edges being cut to fit.

You can learn how to cut tiles to fit a surface here, but when you’re tiling a bathroom, you also need to make some extra cuts for your bathroom fittings like taps and plumbing.

Cutting Holes for Taps

There’s two important things you need to know about cutting holes in tiles for taps. The first is that you’ll need to use a tradesman or handyman hole cutter. The second is that you must cut the tiles before you lay the tiles.

  • Step 1: Use a pencil to mark where the tile needs to be cut, making a mark at the centre of the hole to guide the hole cutter.
  • Step 2: Place the tile over a suitable, stable work surface and score the marks with a grinder.
  • Step 3: Drill the hole using a hole cutter.

Drilling Holes for Fittings

Unlike taps, you only need to drill a hole for fittings. You can also do this after the tiles have been laid.

  • Step 1: Use a pencil to mark the spot where you need to drill. Place some tape on the centre mark to prevent the drill bit from slipping on the surface of the tile once you start drilling.
  • Step 2: Use another piece of tape to make a small “well” to catch the dust when you drill. This simple step can save a lot of cleaning up!
  • Step 3: Drill the hole. Make sure you do not use the hammer function of your drill until you have drilled through the glazed surface of the tile.

We have a wide range of Melbourne tiling renovations to help you choose in creating a new design for your house. 

Deciding Whether to Tile Shower Floor Or Walls First in Your Bathroom

There are many factors to consider when determining which of these methods is well-suited for your shower renovation project. The tile size, as well as the dimensions of the shower, are among the most important of these factors. Many showers do not have uniform dimensions. For example, some showers have a tiled bench seat. Because each project has unique factors to consider, you will need to develop an installation plan for your specific project with these pros and cons in mind.

Is there a definitive answer to tiling a shower floor or wall first? Unfortunately, there is not. Many times it’s a personal preference.

Furthermore, sometimes people will go with what makes the most sense to them. Others prefer to do one or the other depending on visual attractiveness. But, since the rules of tiling are not set in stone, many adopt one or the other as the situation calls for it.

Finally, if you want to be on the safe side, you can try a mix of both philosophies. Using a mix gives you the best of both schools of thought. And, helps take the guesswork out of which way is the right way.

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