Last week we started tile work in a remodeling project we are working on. The work involved removing the existing fixtures and finishes in a couple of bathrooms and renewing them with new surfaces, fixtures, cabinetry, etc.
Each bathroom had a one-piece shower unit. While those showers can work very well, the owners decided to use ceramic tile for the shower walls. We used an acrylic shower base for the floor of the shower. A pre-molded shower base saves a fair amount of money compared to creating a full mud-set tile shower pan. However, it is still very important to detail things properly.
I like to use a water resistant backer board for ceramic tile. In this instance we used a product called Hardibacker. It has reinforcing in it and stands up very well to moisture. On top of that we apply a flexible waterproof acrylic membrane. This seals all joints and creates a water tight surface for the tile. It is the black surface in the photo on the right. I think this is important in a shower where it is clear the tile and grout will be subject to direct water applications on a regular basis. It also allows a good transition from the Hardibacker to regular drywall which typically occurs at the perimeter of the shower area. We set the tile using thin-set cement. With proper tile and substrate selections and preparations tile can perform well for decades. It is an excellent choice for use in bathrooms.