Before You Begin
Step 1: Make a Template
Step 2: Frame a Pony Wall
Step 3: Fix and Set the Wallboard
Step 4: Waterproof
Step 5: Tile the Alcove
Step 6: Set Out the Wall Tiles
Step 7: Lay the Wall Tiles
Step 8: Tile the Alcove Sill
Step 9: Tile the Bench
Step 10: Tile the End of the Pony Wall
Step 11: Tile the Shelf
Step 12: Complete the Grouting
Laying Out the Tiles
Written by Frank Gardner
You'll need some reasonably advanced DIY skills to build in this bench, shelf and alcove. It pays to rent or buy a tile cutter for the larger tiles. If using natural stone or larger tiles, and a lot of cuts are required, rent a tile saw for a day. The tile cutter can also be useful to score and snap small glass mosaic tiles. Note that about one in 10 will break, so make sure you plan the tile layout efficiently to minimize the need for cutting.
Plan the framing and tile layout on paper cut to the size of each wall. Mark the existing studs outlining the alcove. Position tiles to measure the height, width and depth of shower features, aiming to use full tiles where possible to avoid cutting.
Add blocking to top and bottom of the alcove. Frame and batten out the width of the nib wall so it works with full tiles. Add blocking for the shelf and bench. Frame the bench with a 1/4-in. slope and cover with compressed fiber cement board.
Fix waterproof drywall to stud walls and ceiling. Tape joints with fiberglass mesh tape and finish with drywall compound. Seal and paint the ceiling.
Prime all wall and bench areas to enhance waterproofing bond. Apply silicone to unsealed wall gaps. Apply undertile waterproofing compound, then reinforcing mat to internal and external corners. Apply a second coat of waterproofing compound.
Spread wall tile adhesive upwards with a 1/4-in. notched trowel, then press the mosaic tile sheets in. Tap the tiles with a grout float to embed each one evenly. Remove adhesive, squeezing between the tiles with a match, and wipe the tile face clean.
Snap plumb and level layout lines, working full tiles around alcove. Measure down from bottom of alcove for the first row. Fasten a ledger to the wall to ensure a level first row and prevent tiles slipping. Remove ledger after tiling. Cut and add bottom row.
Spread wall adhesive with 1/4-in. notched trowel up to the horizontal layout line and around one corner. Set tiles following the plumbline, leaving out the row directly behind the shelf.
Tile the alcove sill, sides and top. Slope tiles slightly for drainage by adding extra adhesive on the back. Match the slope on the bottom tiles at the side by taping the bottom tile even with the row above it and scribing the angle with a full tile.
Starting at one end, set tiles on the front. If there's a gap at the end, cut mosaic into strips and expand the grout lines slightly between rows. Tile the seat, working from front to back, aligning the grout lines with the front.
Once the bench is complete, lay mosaic tiles up the face of the short pony wall. Cut strips to match the width of the wall from the mosaic sheets.
Cover the shelf wood with wallboard on top, front and bottom, and screw a support ledger to the shelf underside. Tile the shelf face, top and rest of the wall tile.
When shelf tiles have set, lay remaining tiles above and below the shelf and on both sides of the nib wall. Use spacers, wedges and a straightedge to align. Tap in nails or plastic wedges to support sagging mosaics. Next day, work tile grout into the gaps with a sponge float, removing excess with a sponge and clean water.
© 2012 Reiman Media Group, LLC.