How to Apply Tile to Cultured Marble on Shower Walls

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Marble looks great in a bathroom.
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If you want to give your shower walls a new, clean and modern look, applying tile can be the perfect way to go. Alongside its attractive appearance, tiling showers can help boost their durability. But it's not always a good idea to tile over your shower walls. If your shower walls are cultured marble, for example, it's ill-advised to install tiles over the top.

What Is Cultured Marble?

Cultured marble is made from a combination of stone dust and plastic resin. This process creates unique patterns that mimic those found in natural marbles, but it results in a material with much more durability and resilience. Cultured marble can be a popular choice for bathrooms, particularly countertops, backsplashes and shower walls, as it is known for being extremely long wearing and easy to clean and maintain.

Nonetheless, some shower owners may wish to switch up their cultured marble shower walls. Because of its smooth surface that looks like stone, it may be tempting to apply tiles directly over your cultured marble shower walls. But this may not necessarily be the best solution.

Tiling Cultured Marble Showers

Marble can work as a base for tiling, but in spite of its similar appearance, cultured marble is generally not a good substrate for bathroom tiles. Its high plastic content can mean it's not solidly adhered to the wall beneath. The plastic also may not be rigid or strong enough to bear the weight of heavier ceramic bathroom tiles.

On top of this, regular tile adhesive is not designed to bond to plastic, which means that tiles are not likely to stick properly to cultured marble. You may be able to get around this by using a specialist plastic epoxy adhesive, but the point still stands — cultured marble is not a suitable tiling base.

Alternative Options for Shower Walls

If you really want to go for a tiled shower wall, your best bet is to remove your cultured marble and install a cement board base. Although this is a fairly intensive do-it-yourself task, you may be able to complete it provided you use the correct safety equipment.

For a quicker and easier alternative, there are a variety of excellent peel-and-stick backsplash options that can work over cultured marble shower walls. First you must check whether your peel-and-stick material of choice will adhere to plastic due to the high plastic content of cultured marble. It's also important to ensure that you go for a waterproof option if you're covering your shower walls.

You can purchase either sheeting with a tiled print or individual peel-and-stick tiles for your shower wall project. There is a huge variety of peel-and-stick options on the market, so you can be sure you'll find the exact shower wall look you desire. Installing peel-and-stick tiles is a relatively easy process too, and as long as you take your time measuring and ensuring that your tiles are straight and even, they can create a surprisingly effective illusion of real ceramic tiles.

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Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.

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