I created this page to serve as a virtual toolbox of many of the resources I recommend for building your custom tile shower: from books & further education, to construction, to plumbing, tile, grouting, and even shower doors & accessories. You’ll also find tools that I highly recommend every DIYer have before starting their project.
Please note that many of the links within this Resources Page are affiliate links to products for which I’ll earn a referral commission. Any income I receive from commissions like these are what help keep this site going, so I can continue to provide better content and education on tile shower construction and other DIY projects. But rest assured, I only recommend products that I use and approve of, and I feel would be helpful in your custom tile shower project. They are not on this page simply for the commissions I may earn by referring you to them.
- Shower Construction
- Plumbing & Fixtures
- Shower Doors
- Shower Accessories
- Books & Further Education
Schluter Systems Products:
Schluter is the creator of innovative installation systems for tile and stone. Founder, Werner Schluter became a Master Tile Setter at a young age, and established his own installation company in 1966. But it was in 1975 that an idea came to him how he could improve tile edges…It became a revolutionary product, and from there the company he formed, Schluter Systems, has gone on to innovate many great products…especially in our case here, for building improved, waterproof tile showers…and making it much quicker and easier to do so!
The Schluter products I recommend using for tile shower applications are Schluter Kerdi (rolls & bands, inside & outside corner pieces, valve seals, etc.), their Schluter Shower Systems, and Rondec metal edges to use instead of bullnose tiles.
Schluter-KERDI is a bonded waterproof membrane with limited crack-bridging capabilities. It is made of soft polyethylene, which is covered on both sides with a special fleece webbing to anchor the membrane in the thin-set mortar. Tiles can be installed directly on Schluter-KERDI using the thin-bed method. Other trowel-applied covering materials, such as plaster, can also be used. Pre-cut sections of Schluter-KERDI are available for inside and outside corners, as well as for pipe collars. Use Schluter-KERDI-BAND, in widths of 5″ (12.5 cm), 7-1/4″ (18.5 cm), or 10″ (25 cm) to seal butt joints or corner joints.
Schluter Shower Systems:
The KERDI-SHOWER-KIT is an all-inclusive shower construction package containing an integrated set of choice components from the Schluter shower family of products. The included Schluter shower tray and Schluter shower curb provide solid support and are ready to be tiled on straight out of the box. The KERDI waterproofing membrane contained in the kit has an extremely low vapor permeance, giving your shower prolonged resistance against both mold and corrosion. Product Features PVC Plastic Flange The KERDI-DRAIN included in this kit uses rigid PVC plastic in its flange construction, guaranteeing years of durability and reliability. The grate makes your drain attractive and eye catching, with several finish options to choose from, including stainless steel, chrome, and oil-rubbed bronze.
For custom, larger sized shower niches (shelves built into the wall of the shower), I will build my own shower niches by framing an opening, covering with cement board, and then waterproofing with Schluter Kerdi & Kerdi Band. But if it’s a standard shower niche you want, the quickest and easiest way to do it is with these pre-made shower niches that you simply apply adhesive to the backs and sides of, insert into the opening in the shower wall, and waterproof with your Kerdi Band around the seams.
- Schluter Shower Niche – 12″ wide x 6″ tall (good for a soap holder)
- Schluter Shower Niche – 12″ wide x 12″ tall
- Schluter Shower Niche – 12″ wide x 20″ tall
- Schluter Shower Niche – 12″ wide x 28″ tall
- Swanstone Shower Shelves – Swanstone uses a composite material to make these, so these you’ll leave exposed, no tiling over them.
- Tile Redi Shower Niches
- Laticrete Shower Niches
Plumbing & Fixtures
text about why SharkBite is so awesome compared to every other traditional option.
- 1/2″ x 1/2″ SharkBite Drop Ear Elbow – you’ll want this fitting to connect water supply from the mixer valve to the shower arm you’ll eventually install after all tiling & grouting is complete. This mounts to a 2×4 or other solid backing in the wall with 3 screws.
- Couplers, Tees, Elbows, Caps, and other Connectors –
- SharkBite Deburring & Depth Tool –
- SharkBite Contractor Kit –
PEX piping – cross-linked polyethylene tubing – is the simplest option for DIY plumbing projects.
- Cuts easily with cutters like these
- Very flexible, bending many corners easily without the use of fittings (which is one more potential spot for leaks)
- When combined with SharkBite’s simple push-fit fittings, valves, and manifolds, it offers the fastest way to plumb any DIY project
1/2″ diameter pipe is sufficient for individual water supply to your shower, toilet, sink, and other fixtures. 3/4″ diameter pipe is used for water supply to an area of the house or to the bathroom. Once the 3/4″ pipe is run to your bathroom, for example, a manifold, tees, or reducer fittings can be used to transition from 3/4″ down to 1/2″ or to split off into multiple 1/2″ lines.
*Frequently Asked Question: What’s the difference between red, white, and blue PEX? Answer: There is no difference in performance of the tubing. The red and blue colors are intended to make hot & cold water supply lines easily distinguishable.
Browse through the various diameters and roll lengths of PEX tubing here on Amazon.
Shower Trim Kits
The shower trim kit is the combination of the shower mixer valve, shower arm and shower head, and tub spout on kits made for tub/shower combos. There are an endless variety of shower trim kits to choose from, depending on your budget, brand of choice, color, design, and finish.
But here are a few of the best brands I recommend. I’ve assorted them based generally on budget, from lowest (Moen), to the higher end brands last, although each brand has its own range of prices on models it offers. Click the links to browse the brands on Amazon, and choose the model that has everything you’re looking for.
Shower Panel or Shower Column Systems
Shower panel systems, also called shower columns, are all-in-one shower units that include mixer valve, body sprays, overhead or rain shower head, sometimes a handheld wand, and some have LED displays. They are a less expensive way to create a spa-like shower experience than a custom spa shower setup.
Specialty Shower Heads & Sprays
It’s very common today for homeowners and do-it-yourselfers to want to upgrade their standard shower head to something a bit more luxurious and satisfying. Typically, the solution is a larger sized shower head that emits more water, or even a rain shower head that not only showers you with more water, but also disperses it in such a way to soften the stream and make it feel like real raindrops.
…the next step up from a rain shower head is a ceiling mounted rain shower head, being mounted to plumbing in the ceiling that is extending from the shower mixer/diverter valves. You can check out my in-depth review of the best ceiling mounted rain shower heads on this page.
Tile is another one of those things that just has endless options. Ceramic tile is typically the cheaper tile, but keep in mind it cracks & chips easier than higher end tiles. Usually a ceramic tile is composed of a red clay core, coated with a layer of glaze, stamp, print, or design that you see on the surface. Porcelain tile is the next step up, having the color formed all the way through the tile. They’re more durable and won’t chip as easily. Other tile options are stone, glass, or marble.
If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for on Amazon, a trip to the local tile store or big box home improvement store will usually give you plenty of options to choose from as well.
Wherever your tile ends and meets up with painted drywall or other surfaces, or also on corners and around shower shelves/niches, you’ll want some to do 1 of 2 things to make that transition look really nice – instead of just ending abruptly with tile and having the blunt edge of the tile exposed.
- You can find a bullnose specialty tile that matches the design and color of the tile you’re using, and install it along that transition or edge.
- Or you can use a fantastic product that I really love and use almost exclusively now. It’s the Schluter Tile Edge, an 8′ long metal stick that is slipped behind the last row of tile when installing, and it has an edge that’s either square or rounded, with a choice of finish in colors like oil-rubbed bronze, copper, brushed nickel, stainless steel, etc.
The following are tools and supplies you’ll need for the grouting phase of your project.
- Marshalltown Rubber Float
- Margin Float – great for edges and corners
- Grouting Sponge – you want a sponge like this with a scrubbing surface on one side to help remove excess grout film from the surface of the tile
- Rubber gloves
- Small bucket or shallow pan for holding grout – mix it to the consistency of peanut butter
- Bucket for clean water
- …and you’ll want to have those kneepads handy for grouting the floor
…More to come here soon. In the mean time, you can find some great shower shower doors at your local home improvement store, or for a really nice touch, have a glazing company come to your home after the shower is complete to measure your opening and they can make a really sharp custom glass door, like you see in the image above.
The following are some products that can be great additions to your shower – new or existing – and spruce them up with little effort!
- Teak Corner Shower Benches – a teak shower bench is the perfect way to add a bench to an existing shower, without having to build a permanent bench. Teak is a beautiful exotic hardwood that will not rot, and can handle the constant exposure to water.
- Wall Mounted Soap Dispensers – while they’re not the most decorative, if you want a more permanent way to keep soap & shampoo in the shower, they serve that purpose.
- Waterproof Bluetooth Shower Speakers – want to listen to music or a podcast while you’re taking your shower, without installing an expensive home audio system? …Now you can!
Primary Tools Needed For Tiling
- Thinset/Mortar Mixer Paddle – you’ll need this to attach to your drill and make quick work of mixing up your thinset/mortar, which needs thoroughly mixed for 5 minutes or so, let sit, and then mix once more for a couple minutes
- Tile Spacers – the ones you choose depends on the gap you want between your tiles: 1/16″, 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, etc…as well as the pattern you’re using: cross shaped, tee shaped, one bar on one side & cross on the other side, etc.
- Marshalltown Mortar Trowel – for scooping mortar out of your bucket and for cleaning off excess from various surfaces
- Marshalltown Notched Trowel – which one you will need depends on the size of tile you’re using; the larger the tile, the larger sized notch on the trowel
- Torpedo Level – choose from one of these torpedo levels to have on hand for leveling adjacent tiles and also in leveling horizontal first rows of tile
- Stabilizer Knee Pads – a good pair of stabilizing (wide based) knee pads will help save your knees when tiling the floor and working down low
- Ridgid Wet Tile Saw – I have used this model myself for several years now with no troubles, and I’ve been very pleased with it
- DeWALT Tile Saw – If you plan to install an extensive amount of tile, or do more tiling in the future, an upgrade to a really nice, more powerful wet saw like this one from DeWALT would be a smart move
- Tile Drill Bits – do NOT go cheap on drill bits…tile wears them down quickly. The cheaper the bit, the faster it will be worn out. I’ve had some cheap bits last only one or two holes.
DeWALT Cordless Tools
It’s difficult to say one brand of tools is best, with each having their own strengths and unique features. But, just like many people have their favorite make of car or brand of clothing they lean toward, I too have a brand of tools that is my favorite. For me, that is DeWALT.
A few reasons I always buy DeWALT tools, if possible:
- Durable – I’ve never had one of their tools just go out on me like I have some other brands.
- Universal Batteries – they make a cordless version of just about every major tool now, and when I buy a new tool, I only buy cordless because of the extreme added flexibility of use you get with them. And the great thing about buying all your tools from the same brand is that they all use the same batteries and can be used interchangeably and all charged from the same charger.
- Cost Effective – while not the cheapest brand you can buy, they’re not the most expensive either. I firmly believe in the phrase “you get what you pay for”, and I feel like I’ve always gotten a great return of value on the price I’ve paid for DeWalt’s tools.
These are just a few of the key reasons I buy DeWALT and recommend them to others. That’s not to say, however, that no other brands offer these same advantages. Like I said, everyone has their favorites; if you favor a different brand, that’s great…but these are just my personal recommendations from my own experience.
If you’re in the mood to buy the tools you need to be absolutely prepared for your custom tile shower project, here are the main tools I recommend purchasing:
- 20v MAX XR Lithium Ion Brushless Compact Drill & Impact Driver Combo Kit
- DCS355D1 20v XR Lithium Ion Oscillating Multi-Tool Kit – a lifesaver of a tool…I use this handy little thing ALL the time!
- DCS391P1 20v MAX Lithium Ion Circular Saw Kit
- DCS331M1 20v MAX Lithium Ion Jigsaw Kit
- DCS380P1 20v MAX Lithium Ion Reciprocating Saw Kit
- DHS790AT2 120v MAX 12″ Double Compound Sliding Miter Saw Kit – this is an exception to the interchangeable batteries, as this saw uses 2 60v batteries, to maintain cutting power in cordless mode. But it does also come with an adapter to run it corded when desired. You can get this corded version of this saw cheaper, but it’s so handy to have cordless when away from power. For precise and easy cutting, this saw is priceless to have in your arsenal.
- DCS7485T1 Flexvolt 60v MAX Table Saw Kit, 8 1/4″ Blade – while not an absolutely necessary tool to have for a tile shower or other DIY project, there are times when you need to rip down a dimension of a board or piece of trim, and this is the best tool for that job.
*Note: the newer models have a 20 volt or 20 volt “MAX” battery. I recommend you make certain the tools you select when browsing and purchasing on Amazon have these 20v batteries (not the older 18 or 14 volt). They offer the most power and longest use time before needing recharged.
*Second Note: you can always purchase the tools standalone or in a kit with a carrying case, battery, and charger. I always buy the kit, for several reasons:
- I am very organized and like to have a case to keep each tool in good shape, and it makes it easier for storing away in a shelf or wherever.
- Even though they’re interchangeable, you can never have enough extra batteries lying around. If you lose one or one no longer holds a charge, you’ll have others to use.
- The same goes with chargers, you can have multiple chargers, one for the vehicle, one for the garage or workshop, one just in case you lose another, etc.
Books & Further Tile Shower Education
“Tile Your World“, by John Bridge, is a comprehensive, in-depth guide for both the amateur and the professional tile setters.
Tile Your World is a must read for people contemplating doing their own ceramic or stone tile work. This is a comprehensive book that fully explains the preliminary steps essential to a good tile job. It then takes you on to the advanced stages of the craft and provides you the information you’ll need to bring your tiling project to a satisfactory and gratifying conclusion. The book will also be of use to you if you plan to hire your tile work out. You will be in a much better position to judge the qualifications of prospective contractors after having read the book. Building a new home? Buy the book before the foundation is laid. You’ll be glad you did.
Tiling Complete: Expert Advice From Start to Finish, by Michael Schweit
Brought to you by two tiling experts – each with over 20 years as working professionals – this all-encompassing manual delivers everything you need to handle any tiling job from start to finish. If you’re ready to tackle the unique challenges of a home tiling project, you’ll really appreciate the breadth and depth of information in Tiling Complete.