Leveling That Stubborn Shower Tile

Posted: 01/21/2015

Big tiles in the shower are all the rage these days – 12x24, 20x20, 24x24, and so on. It’s also fairly common for a client to request that the tile design be on an angle, making a diamond out of the tiles and increasing that working space to about 30 inches.

And it’s really difficult to keep a 30 inch line level.

Especially because walls are never level. Sure, they look like they are to the naked eye, and a lot of times they can be straight, but they’ll have just a little bow in them, which can cause shower tiles to pop up from the surface after setting if not leveled properly. Or the junctions between the floor and wall or ceiling and wall aren’t quite level, causing tile on one end of the shower to meet the crease, while tile on the other end is half and inch below it.

To avoid these unsightly flaws in a shower tile design, HA Construction uses a special leveling technique. It’s a painstaking process, no doubt, but saves time and money. We’d rather take our time and do it right than suffer through the expense of starting all over when it turns out wrong (which you often don’t notice until you’re nearly done!).

Here’s how the process works: a ‘T’ slides underneath the tile and then a clip is placed on top of the tile. A wedge is used, pushing the tile into the clip and pulling up on the T to level with the adjacent tile. We have to put enough clips on to level all areas of the tile – it typically is about nine clips. As you use the wedge, the tile will move with each clip, so if we put the clips on just a few points, then the tile won’t be level.

We also have to make sure we do this process while the thin set is still wet. If we wait too long, the thin set becomes like clay and the tiles pull away from the wall during the leveling process.

The process can be time consuming, and it certainly looks complicated, but this is the best way to make sure you have clean, straight lines and a cohesive look. We occasionally use this process on floors too, though that’s not as common.