How to Install a Mexican Tile Shower Surround

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Chalk line
Notched trowel
Thin set mortar
Grout float
Wet saw

Mexican tile gives a shower surround a much more rust look than normal ceramic tiles. These tiles are handmade and baked in the sun for several weeks. They have a natural color, but are unglazed and porous. Mexican tile in the shower surround needs to be sealed before running water over it.

Step 1 - Set Lines on Wall

To get the Mexican tile to look right on your shower surround, you will to do a little preparation. Set grid lines on the wall by snapping a chalk line in 2 directions. Find the center of the wall and snap a line going both horizontally and vertically. Use a square to ensure that the lines are both centered and square.

Step 2 - Mix Thin Set Mortar

Use a flat board and mix the thin set mortar according to the directions. Do not mix too much at a time; it will dry before you can use it. When applying tile to a shower surround, you will do a lot of measuring and cutting.

Step 3 - Spread the Thin Set

With the notched trowel, spread out a layer of the thin set mortar. Do not spread the mortar over the entire surface. You will only need to spread the thin set along the center of the wall where you made the marks. It should be enough space for a little more than 4 tiles.

Step 4 - Install First Mexican Tile

Place the tiles on the mortar so that they form a square in the center of the wall. Keep a .5-inch space between the tiles. Apply a thin amount of the mortar on the back of the tile and press it into the thin set on the wall. Move it slightly so that the 2 surfaces join together.

Step 5 - Continue Installing Tiles

In the same manner that you placed the first 4 tiles, continue laying them until the wall is covered. Remember that you will need to cut the tiles for the edging. When coming to an inside corner, leave .5-inches of space between the final tile and the corner. Using tile spacers will keep a consistent line between tiles.

Step 6 - Cut With Wet Saw

When you need to cut a tile, use a wet saw with a diamond blade. Doing so will ensure crisp, clean cuts without cracking the tile.

Step 7 - Grout Tiles

After the Mexican tile dried, apply the grout. Use a grout float to carefully push the grout along the surface, filling the spaces. Wipe the excess away after it dries to a paste.

Step 8 - Seal Tiles

Mexican tile in a shower surround must be sealed properly. Pour the sealer into a paint tray and apply it with a sponge. Rub the sealer on in a circular motion. Let it dry for an hour before applying another coat. You should apply 3 coats of the sealer for strong, waterproof protection.