How to Install a Shower Surround
Time Required: Over 1 day
Shower surrounds, otherwise known as the walls of your shower, are quick and easy to install. This guide will show you how to install shower walls so you can turn any bathtub into a shower in just one day.
Tip: Surrounds can be installed directly over securely fastened ceramic tile. Loose ceramic tiles—and any plastic tiles—must be removed and the walls sanded smooth before installation. In new installations, the enclosure should be applied over waterproof backerboard.
- Shut off the main water supply and remove all fittings.
- Clean film and dirt from the wall surface and dry thoroughly.
- Prep cement backerboard with a stain-blocking primer to create good bonding.
- Allow the surface to dry completely.
- Select a corner panel and test fit it into any corner.
- Remove the panel and lay it on the floor with the surface that goes next to the wall facing up.
- Apply 1-inch pieces of double-sided tape along the vertical edges of the panel.
- Using a caulking gun, apply dots of adhesive at intervals of no more than 12 inches along the vertical length of the panel.
- Rows of adhesive near the edge should be back from it by 3 inches.
- Position the panel on the wall.
- Press it firmly onto the wall, then pull it back about 6 inches for a few minutes (or per the manufacturer's instructions) to let the adhesive set up.
- Push the panel back in place.
- Firmly apply pressure all along the panel, making firm contact with the wall.
- Repeat in the opposite corner.
- Measure where the pipes extend from the wall and create a cardboard template with cut-outs in the correct place to allow room for those pipes.
- Determine the height from the bottom of the panel and the distance of each fitting from the inside edge of the panel.
Tip: Placing a piece of scrap wood beneath the panel will produce a cleaner cut.
- Mark the positions of the openings on the back of the panel with the template—drilling from the back will minimize chipping.
- Test fit a final time and use a hole saw to cut the openings.
Tip: Use foam according to manufacturer’s instructions – too much foam can expand and crack the panel.
- You can fill the crevices in the panel with expanding foam to make them more rigid.
- Position the panel onto the wall.
- Apply pressure by hand—side to side—to mount.
- Install the remaining panels.
- Use a caulking gun to apply a quality tub-and-tile sealant.
- Seal along the outside edges of the panel and around the fixtures.
- To get a “perfect bead,” use a small spoon dipped in soapy water to smooth the caulk line.
- Avoid using the shower for at least 24 hours, or according to manufacturer's instructions.