Shower Floor vs. Shower Walls – Which Tile First?

Tiles generally lose their aesthetic and decorative appeal after long use. Therefore, retiling the shower is the most effective way of updating the look of any bathroom.

However, there is a heated debate among many homeowners and building contractors on which part of the bathroom to tile first between the shower floor and wall. While some people believe tilling the wall before the floor is best, others believe tilling the floor before the wall is sensible.    

There is no right or wrong answer to this heated debate. You can tile a shower either way. However, popular opinion is that tilling the wall first has a better outcome. Tailing the walls first reduces damage, helps you get the job done faster, and saves cost, especially if you’re paying by the hour.

Fundamental tiling principles states that the wall tiles should always hang over or sit on the floor tiles. This rule simply means if a building contractor is having trouble choosing between tiling the floor or wall first, he or she should always start with the wall.

The most important reason for tiling the wall first is for easier installation. When you install the wall tiles first, you don’t have to worry about waiting for the floor tiles to set or damaging the floor tiles.

First, tiling the wall will help you dodge the mishaps and messes associated with tile and mortar. So not only does tiling the bathroom walls first make for a simpler installation process, but it also gives a beautiful finish.

However, you may run into installation issues like how to account for how much wall tiled wall will hang over the floor tile. This is a simple issue that can be solved through the use of a ledger or space saver to leave a space for the floor tile to installation. 

One of the primary reasons why some building contractors defy the fundamental tiling principle to tile the floor before the wall is for the look it gives. Tilling the shower floor first will give you a beautiful finish and make the shower more waterproof.

However, the choice of tiling the floor first may cause damages to the floor tile as people work on the wall tiles.

When the floor is tiled before the wall, workers may often damage the floor tiles by walking on them or dropping tiles and mortar meant for the wall tile on the floor. This can cost the homeowner extra expenses.

However, if you prefer tilling the floor first, this problem can be easily fixed if the workers wait for the floor mortar to set and put a protective sheeting over the floor before tiling the wall.

Do you tile a shower floor first or last?

You can start with either. However, tilling the shower floor first will give you a beautiful finish and make the shower more waterproof, while tiling the shower floor last helps prevent damage to the floor tiles.

Does shower floor tile go under wall tile?

The fundamental tile installation principle states that the tiled wall should hang over the tiled floor. This means the shower floor tiles go under the wall tiles.

But, you may struggle with calculating how to balance the distance between the floor and wall tiles. You may have to use a ledge or space saver to leave a space to enable the floor tile to perfectly go under the wall tiles.

How should wall and floor tiles meet?

The meeting of the wall and floor tiles should be perfect and seamless. When using a ledge or space saver, there should be a 1/8-inch gap between the wall and floor tiles to help accommodate heat expansion and house settling.

This procedure provides a seamless way to blend the wall overhang situation when tiling the walls before the floor. Failure to blend the wall and floor tiles perfectly could result in a crack tile or grout.

Floor and wall tiles near a corner must be precisely cut to enable them to blend easily and to enhance the waterproof capabilities of your bathroom floor.

How do you fill gaps between wall and floor tiles?

The most effective way to fill the gap between the wall and floor tiles is to install a temporary ledger board or spacer at the bottom of the shower walls to ensure the wall tiles are level and straight. The shower wall sometimes is not perfectly straight and level.

Therefore, it is advisable to set the spacer at the beginning of the second row of the wall tiles and, if necessary, cut some tiles near the bottom close to the shower floor to balance the wall and fall tiles. After removing the spacer at the bottom role, it is important to trim the lower side to blend with the contour of the floor tile.

Is it better to grout or silicone?

Silicon is flexible, watertight, airtight, and perfect for edges and corners of tiles. It is a better sealant than grout. Silicon is more durable and can withstand great pressure than grout can. It is best to fill the space between floor and wall tile with elastic waterproof material like silicon to accommodate the movement of the floor’s joists when people stand on it.

Grout is made up of composite material, a mixture of water, sand, and cement. This means it is inflexible and terrible for tiles with bent corners. However, silicon is perfect for bent and plain tiles because it’s a flexible sealant. Silicone is a better sealant than grout because its smooth texture is often preferred by many.


Regardless of the fundamental tilling principles and what every other person is saying, nothing comes close to your preference and convenience. The ultimate decision of what to tile first is determined by personal choice.

For instance, tiling the wall gives a better aesthetics, reduces damage, helps get the job done faster, and saves cost, especially if you’re paying by the hour. While tiling the floors first could mean the building contractors will spend more time on the project since the mortar must get dried before workers can resume working on the walls.

It’s also important to engage the services of a professional bathroom contractor for expert advice to help you make the best decision.