Bathrooms are one of the most often-used and highlighted areas of a home, and fiberglass showers are one of the first things that may require updating in this key area. Clean, sparkly tile shower walls update an old, outdated fiberglass surround.
A DIY tile shower weekend project is achievable as long as you plan everything properly and allocate adequate time for each required step. Asking for a friend's help — especially in removing the fiberglass surround — can help speed up the work.
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How to Replace a Fiberglass Shower With Tile
Step 1: Remove the Fiberglass Shower Surround
Remove the fiberglass shower surround. Use a utility knife to cut a seam along all drywall-fiberglass intersections. Turn off the bathroom's water source. Remove plumbing fixture trim, such as valve handles and the showerhead. Remove the drain and drain hardware.
Pry behind the fiberglass shower enclosure with a pry bar, starting at the left or right side. Solicit the aid of a partner or friend to wedge and pry the fiberglass enclosure away from the walls. Carry away and properly dispose of the fiberglass enclosure.
Step 2: Install a Moisture Barrier
Mark the shower tile layout. Remove drywall where the new tile will go. Install a moisture barrier paper or plastic sheeting over the studs. Install a cement board matching the existing drywall thickness. For extra strength, use self-tapping cement backer board screws to affix the cement board sheets. Use fiberglass mesh tape at corners and seams. Install the fiberglass mesh tape with acrylic-modified thinset mortar.
Step 3: Install the Shower Pan
Measure the shower base. Purchase a fiberglass shower pan that matches the shower base dimensions. Connect the plumbing components to the fiberglass shower pan drain. Caulk in all shower pan-wall intersection areas.
Step 4: Lay the Tile
Measure the walls. Mark a center point for each wall. Horizontally mark the center points. Mark a first-row starter course off the fiberglass pan's top edge. For example, make a 4-inch mark if using 4-inch tile, an 8-inch mark if using 8-inch tile and so forth. Mix latex-modified thinset mortar in a bucket.
Start laying tiles at the center of the wall and move up. Cut corner pieces with either a wet saw or hand-guided tile cutter. Use tile nippers or a 4-inch grinder for cutting out rough plumbing. Allow 24 hours for the tile to dry.
Step 5: Apply the Grout
Mix a color-matching grout in a clean bucket. Mix the grout by hand to a medium consistency. Apply the grout with a rubber grout float. Wipe excess grout from the tile's surface, using a grout float. Allow the grout to stiffen and wash it with a sponge and clean water. Allow time for the grout to dry and develop a slight haze on the tile. Clean the haze and any remaining grout with a sponge and clean water. Allow 24 hours for the grout to dry.
Step 6: Install the Plumbing Fixture Trim
Attach the showerhead and faucet handles and test the plumbing by turning on the water supply. Apply caulking around the tile-shower pan intersection. Seal the tile and grout joints with a penetrating tile sealant.