Shower Tile Installation Cost Guide

We rounded up in detail all the cots related to installing a tile shower stall. Browse our Shower Tile Installation Cost Guide for more information!

The bathroom is the most highly-loaded premise in our homes. There are different types of aggressors that put the bathroom and the materials it is built from on a test, every single day when we take a shower. Many people consider installing a bathtub to preserve whole parts of the bathroom from the effect of the running water. Others stick to prefabricated shower stalls. But there is a simple and very effective solution when it comes to separating the shower area from the rest of your bathroom – the tile shower stall.

In this guide we will go through the benefits of having a separated tile shower stall in your bathroom and will break down the costs for such kind of project. We will analyze all the important details, that should be considered when starting such project and will provide some real examples of the most popular solutions on the market.

The bathroom

In every home there are premises that are under the constant impact of water and moisture, therefore being more vulnerable to mold and algae formation. Such premises are the toilets, the kitchens, the laundry rooms, the basements and etc. But the most heavily-loaded one is the bathroom. The running water, as well as the showering detergents and aggressive cleaning chemicals put the bathroom and its finish to a serious test.

In fact, the bathroom is a very complex system, combining different sets of materials, designed to work in a perfect symbiosis. For example, every bathroom out there is coated with ceramic, porcelain or other types of tiles. Their main task is to handle the high pressure from the running water and the weight of the people taking a shower. But they are not capable to waterproof the surface below from potential water leakages. And waterproofing is absolutely mandatory, because if the moisture penetrates behind the tiles, the result will be catastrophic, not only for the bathroom itself (mold formation, significantly worsened quality of exploitation, unstable tiles, loose joints, stains and coloring) but for the neighboring premises also (compromised coating of walls, floors and ceilings nearby, dark spots, bad smell, spreading mold and algae). Many different problems may occur if your bathroom does not have a good hydro insulation. And these problems are usually solved by the total reconstruction of your whole bathroom or different parts of it, depending on whether the leakage can be located. And you may need to set aside some budget for fixing the consequences from the problem in your bathroom, that has spread to the neighbor premises or these on the floor below.

The showering area

The shower is one of the main elements in your bathroom. Nowadays, there are showers with amazing designs and functionalities, which can transform the whole look and experience of your bathroom. That is why many people decide to highlight the shower by designing the whole showering area according to its specifications and design.

bathroom with tile shower

The showering zone is usually located in one of the farthermost corners from the door of your bathroom. It is a highly loaded area which needs to constructed in a way, that will ensure its ability to withstand all kinds of pressure. One of the most popular, cost-effective and long-term solutions is the tile shower stall. But is it the best choice out there? We examine the different cases to see which choice is the best for the showering area in your home.

Tile shower stall vs. prefabricated shower stall vs. bathtub

The choice between all these solutions depends on your design idea, the budget that you have set aside, the space in your bathroom, how you plan to exploit it and other similar factors. Combining two of them is also a possibility, but if you want to stick to a cost-effective solution, then choose only one – it will be able to completely satisfy your needs.

The first thing that you should consider when you are about to make a choice is the purpose of the showering unit and more specifically – who is going to use it the most and what are the needs of your family. For example, if in your household there are little kids, pets, elderly people or disabled ones, you should consider their comfort and stick to the bathtub as it ensures the safest exploitation from all the options.

Next you should take in mind the size and specifications of your bathroom as these factors have a direct effect on its future functionality. Bathtubs and prefabricated shower stalls are more space-consuming compared to the tiled showers. If you choose the latter, you will have significant flexibility in terms of its size, shape and place.

When it comes to the installation process, bear in mind that whatever showering unit you choose, hiring a professional is highly recommended. As we already mentioned, the showering area is the most heavily loaded one in your home and cutting corners with DIY works and costs is not an advisable option. Bear in mind that such projects are for the long term and if they are not professionally executed, there is a very high probability that you will have to remodel not only your showering area, but other neighboring premises, which can potentially be harmed by water leakage or other similar problems.

Showering unitInstallationAvg. cost
BathtubDepends on its type but usually installed by professional plumbers. May need additional electricians to handle the wiring (depending on the type of the tube). Some of the bathtubs may require additional floor reinforcement because of their high weight. Depending on whether there was a previous bathtub installed, the new one may fit in the exact same place, or may require complete reconstruction of the walls and the base.$2000 - $3500
Prefabricated shower stallThese showering units are usually produced in a factory and then assembled in your bathroom. The prefabricated shower stall unit consists from a shower pan and side panels. These types of units usually require a solid preparation of the surface such as priming, waterproofing, tiling as if any future problems occur, the repairing process is hard to handle.$900 - $1400
Tile shower stallThe shower stall is built directly on site as you will need professionals who will handle the surface preparation, waterproofing, tiling, grouting, shower installation, plumbing and all additional tasks accordingly. The installation process starts with the construction of the shower frame and then walling it with a specific cement-based board.$1800 - $3200

Tile shower stalls: what you need to know

One of the main factors that make people rethink their choice when it comes to tile shower stalls is the fact that it is more expensive than the prefabricated ones. That is due to the more specific installation and the longer exploitation quality that the tile shower stalls ensure. That is why the DIY works here are very difficult and not recommended at all. But shower stalls provide you with the amazing opportunity to turn your bathroom into the most pleasant and enjoyable place in your home.

If you would like to express your creativity, then the tile shower stall is your best choice. There are many different producers, providing amazingly-designed shower stalls. Adding to that the fact that the whole shower stall system is built from scratch and its size and shape can be adjusted to fit everywhere, you can be quite sure that the fulfilment of your project’s goals is fully guaranteed. As the tile shower stall provides literally numerous design options, it is a very suitable choice for fitting into tight spaces. Remember that not every bathroom is big enough and the shower stall unit can do a pretty good job to fit in every side of the premise, while preserving the comfort exploitation of the showering area.

To save time when you go to the shop, you should do your homework first and consider all the different types of shower units that can be found on the market. Not only in terms of their shape, color and design, but above all – their functionalities. It is guaranteed that you will spend some time analyzing the perks all the types, so here is a list to ease this process for you:

Electric showers

electric tile shower

Electric showers are one level above and are very popular option for households who do not have central heating as they warm the cold water instantaneously – on demand when you take a shower. They are easy to install, although electrician should be hired to handle the work accordingly. Electric showers are very efficient choice as they do not waste any hot water. An important thing to consider if you would like to buy an electric shower is the fact that the water flow, coming out the shower, depends on the electric capacity (kW rating). The positive thing with the electric showers is that they are independent from other heating units – the boiler for example, and are way more effective as you don’t have to heat the whole tube. Most of the mid-to-high end electric showers come with a thermostatic unit that allows you to control the temperature of the water according to your preferences.

Digital showers

The digital shower is stacked with technology and provide you with numerous opportunities to make your showering experience amazing. This type of shower is different from the electric one in terms of its functionalities which are highly customizable. For example, you can set your preferred temperature, pressure, water flow and etc. so that your full comfort will be absolutely guaranteed. All this customization happens very easy as it is done on a separate panel unit with a LED display, connected directly to the shower by a hidden wire (there are wireless options also). In terms of design, the digital showers are minimalistic, aesthetic, yet offering a luxurious look and most important – can fit in every bathroom.

Mixer showers

mixer shower

The mixer shower works by combining hot and cold water, thus regulating the temperature of the water output. They are a popular choice with a broad range of designs available. The fact that these showers are compatible with different pressures (if the pressure is low, you may need to install a water pump) from the water systems (combi boiler and gravity fed systems), as well as their usability, makes them suitable for any types of bathrooms. Mixer showers are also cheaper and more powerful than the electric ones. Their installation is very simple and a plumber will be able to handle it for a short period of time.

Power showers

These types of showers are a high-end solution, typical for the luxurious hotels. The power shower has an integrated pump (makes them suitable for homes with low pressure systems) that increases the pressure of the water output, thus making you feel the water flow more natural. Power showers make you feel more relaxed after a bath as they are very similar to the massage shower systems in the spa centers. However, the major downsides of this type of showers are the fact that they are expensive and not as eco-friendly as others because of the high water consumption.

Eco showers

The last, but not least suggestion in our list are the so called “eco showers”. They are a very popular choice because of their focus on water and energy efficiency. Eco showers work by water aeration, which happens in the shower head, thus making the flow more effective, without reducing the pressure or harming your showering experience. This type of showers is available in mixer or electric options and will guarantee a reduced water consumption by 50% to 70%.

When you have decided what type of shower unit in terms of their functionalities, is the best one for your project, it is time to look further to the type of the shower head that you would like to install in your bathroom. This is a very important step, because a small unit like the shower head can guarantee the amazing look of your tile shower stall. Shower head provide various opportunities to choose from in terms of design, the possible variations for the type of the water flow, the best place for its integration and etc. So here are the different options, available on the market:

Traditional ABS showers

traditional abs shower

The simplest and cheapest option on the market. What ABS stands for is the type of material. ABS is basically plastic, way cheaper than the stainless steel or other materials. What this shower can do is to guarantee that you will take a good shower, but nothing more. As the most popular choice, the traditional ABS shower guarantees the basic shower experience without any modern functionalities. Still, most of the ABS showers models can provide different types of massage water flows which in fact makes them a wonderful and cost-effective solution. If you would like a durable, cheap and effective solution, then go for the well-known ABS shower.

Concealed showers

Many experts in the field define these showers as the most aesthetical and beautiful ones that will make your bathroom stand out. The concealed showers can fit everywhere as they are very well integrated in the ceiling which saves you additional space and makes them a very good choice for small bathrooms. They will allow you to take the best out of your showering area in terms of design and comfort. The fact that the concealed shower is mounted on the ceiling makes the showering process more natural, thus providing a great water coverage. Most of the models from this type of showers give you a lot of choices when it comes to the water flow as you may switch between different variations such as waterfall, rain, mist, revolve and etc. That way, you can always experiment with your bathroom experience. Some of the concealed showers come with integrated LED lights to further tease your senses and improve the way you feel while taking a shower. The colors and intensity of the lightning is fully customizable and can be programmed to automatically change at fixed time intervals.

Exposed rain showers

This type of shower will allow you to recreate the rain effect in your bathroom, resembling a relaxing walk in a rainy weather (without the wet clothes). There are many different variations of rain showers that you can choose from. For example, there are air-rain mixed showers that provide an unforgettable showering experience. The air flow mixes with the water to create the most natural feeling of rain drops all over your body. If you decide to buy an exposed rain shower, bear in mind that the size of its head is definitive for more realistic experience and water coverage area. These showers are also very aesthetically pleasing and minimalistic which makes them a suitable choice for different kinds of bathrooms and sizes of tile shower stalls.

Body showers

The spa enthusiasts may find this type of showers the most appropriate choice as they spray the water from different directions. Although not as comfortable as others, the body showers provide you with the ability to switch from different kinds of water flows, such as massage, mist or normal. If you decide to install a body shower unit in your bathroom, bear in mind that the plumbing work will be a little bit more complicated. The plumber will need to install the different parts of the unit in two or three of the walls, depending on your project specifications and the location of the tile shower stall. Although it will take a little bit more time, the plumbing will not be a hard task to handle.

Waterfall showers

For many people, this is the most beautiful and aesthetically appealing shower unit above all. If the exposed rain showers had the ability to bring the natural feeling of the rain drops into your bathroom, the waterfall showers will make you feel like you are standing under a mountain waterfall, as the name suggests. Except their amazing design, the waterfall showers are considered by many as the best choice in terms of the showering experience that they provide. Yet, this type of showers is not so effective in terms of preserving water as their effect relies on the heavier water flow that falls down on your body, just like the one from a mountain waterfall.

waterfall shower

Choosing the best type of the shower head that you would like to install in your bathroom can be enjoyable experience. Bear in mind that such small units as the shower heads, has the power to transform your tile shower stall into your favorite place at home.

Breakdown of the project’s stages

Tile shower stall is cheaper than a good-quality bathtub, but a little bit more expensive than the prefabricated shower stalls. Being the mid-priced option and the fact that it ensures long-lasting quality, beautiful aesthetic design and comfortable exploitation makes it a preferred choice for many households.

The final cost of the tile shower stall installation project may vary widely, but there are few factors that influence it significantly like the quality of the chosen materials, the size and the design of the unit. Understanding the project’s stages breakdown is important even if you decide to hire a professional because even then, you should be aware of the needed materials, the various options that you can choose from, their desired quality and all the different aspects of the construction, installation and finishing work. Also, you should be informed enough so that you will be able to follow all the workflows accordingly. So here is everything you will need if you are about to install a tile shower stall in your bathroom.

Surface preparation

If the surface in your bathroom is a new or existing concrete (in case your bath is still in construction), it is important for the further exploitation of the tile shower stall, that the surface is not perfectly levelled as a little slope should be left for the water to drain easily. A layer of primer for porous surfaces should be applied, so that a good adhesion for the further appliance of other materials can be ensured.

Insulation boards

Most of the professionals will insist to install EPS (expanded polystyrene) or XPS (extruded polystyrene) insulation boards under the tiling in the whole bathroom or just in the showering zone. The purpose of these boards is to ensure that the surface will be stable enough, thermally insulated, smooth and with even distribution of the weight and pressure across the whole premise. If the specifications of your project impose the need for the installation of such insulation boards to ensure their further stability, the boards may need to be fixed with a specially designed adhesive for EPS or XPS.

Piping system

Next is the piping system. The drainage units will be waterproofed tightly with a sealing collar which will prevent any further leakages from the siphon or another components of the system. The basic elements of the piping and drainage system, as well as their initial waterproofing, are installed at this stage, so that the application of the further hydro insulation and tiling can be handled easily and effectively.

Floor screed

Application of floor screed is important because it serves like a second surface basis and encapsulates all the components installed beforehand. The floor screed that will be installed will more-probably be cement-based as they are cost-effective, long-term and high-quality options. The floor screed will further help for the leveling of the surface and will minimize the effect of any existing imperfections. It will also ensure the structural stability of the whole system and will serve as a very good basis for the appliance of the waterproofing and tiling materials.


This may be defined as the most important part of the tile shower stall installation process. The waterproofing materials act as a silent protector that remains out of sight and you become aware of their importance only when a problem appears. The most preferred options when it comes to waterproofing materials, are the cement-based slurries. Their ability to create a seamless, durable and highly elastic membrane, ensure the guaranteed prevention of penetrating water or moisture into the construction elements, preserving their long-term exploitation and quality.

Adhesive application

The next important step is to choose a suitable adhesive. Remember that the structural stability of the tiling in your bathroom is entirely dependable on the quality of the chosen adhesive. That is why, you should be willing to set aside the necessary budget for buying a professional, high-quality adhesive. The perfect adhesive, suitable for wet premises, will ensure the long-term quality and comfortable exploitation of the premise if it poses the following qualities: extreme strength; elasticity; suitable for thick and thin bonding, heavy and large-size tiles; high water resistance; suitability for critical bases. Extended open time, as well as little-to-non sliding are also important but mostly for the one who handles the job, as they ease the tiling process significantly.


The tiling process is considered as the most enjoyable stage of the whole project, as the result from all the hard work can finally be visualized. The showering area and the bathroom as a whole, will let you express your creativity by choosing from many different tile options and combinations. Although every tiling material has its own unique style and design specifications, you should also consider the cost, the installation process, the durability and the further maintenance of the surface. Many people prefer to combine different materials for the floor and the walls because of the desire to express themselves in a slightly different way and also, to combine the pros and the cons of the different types of tiles for the needs of their project. Here are the most popular tile materials that you can choose from:

Tile materialProsConsAvg. cost per sq. ft.
CeramicWide range of color, sizes, textures (resembling rock, wood or etc.) and shapes;
Glazed and does not absorb water;
For some people, the ceramic tiles may lack the “luxurious” look;
May feel cold during winter;
$1.00 - $6.00
PorcelainHarder, durable and more scratch-prone than ceramic tiles;
Very high water resistance;
Stain resistant;
May design options (for example – wood and stone can be easily mimicked);
Only the higher price, when compared to ceramic tiles;$3.00 - $8.00
Stone (marble, limestone, granite and etc.)Many different textures and sizes;
Can choose from numerous colors due to the natural character of the stone;
Luxurious and stylish look;
One of the most expensive floor finishes on the market;
Harder maintenance;
Scratch prone;
Discoloring or stains formation may appear;
$9.00 - $40.00
Slate tiles (subclass to stone tiles, but we analyze them separately)The toughest tiles available on the market;
Stain, crack, break and scratch resistant;
Long-lasting quality;
Luxurious look;
Many color and design combinations;
Individual tiles can be easily replaced (although the chance to experience such need is minimal);
Colder feel in comparison with the other options;
$4.00 - $12.00
Glass and mosaic tilesVarious types, patterns colors and shades available to choose from;
Reflect the light to create a delightful ambience;
Mold and stain resistant;
Easy maintenance (only with water, cloth or mop);
Expensive option;
Surface tends to show dirt if not maintained accordingly;
May break easily if something heavy is dropped;
$7.00 - $30.00

When planning your tile shower stall project, there are some useful tips that you should consider, so that in the end, you will have complete confidence in the choice you have made. For example, when it comes to the tile types, remember that every single type of tiling finish has its own characteristics and requires different maintenance. Although it is appropriate for you to apply many of the listed types of tiles, both on the floor and the walls, an important thing to consider is to avoid laying glossy tiles on the floor. When these tiles get wet, they become very slippery and there is a risk that you may fall. That is why, a better choice for the floors are the embossed tiles as they ensure a significant grip that won’t let you slip easily.

If you have already decided what type of tile is the most appropriate for the design specifications of your shower stall, it is recommended that you go on and buy approximately 20% extra tiles so that if any of them is compromised when being applied, you won’t need to go to the store in the middle of the working process. Bear in mind that some of the tiles will be cut, so that they will fit the corners of the room accordingly. Any miscalculations in the sizes may need you to cut a new tile. That is why buying some additional quantity in the beginning will ease your project and will save you time.

Grouting, silicone and sealant application

The corners of the shower area are very important zones because of the fact that different planes are joined together. These side joints, as well as those between each tile should be handled very strictly, because their quality is fundamental for the structural stability of the whole system. The risks from a badly grouted joint are numerous – from water leakage and reduced adhesive strength, to mold and stains formation. The most important thing here is to look at the joints as effective shields, protecting the whole tiling system. If they are not executed properly and water penetrates the surface, the tiles may be compromised and the aesthetics of the whole project will be significantly harmed. That is why, no matter how good the qualities of the grout are, a further silicone protection is highly recommended. That way you can further design the color of the joints and ensure their long-lasting quality and resistance to mold and algae formation.

Shower installation

After you are done with everything else, it is time for the installation of the showering unit. As the plumbing has already been done, according to the type of the shower that you have chosen, now it is time for the final and easiest task from all the process – its montage. You should not expect any difficulties with this one and the hired professional will handle it in a few minutes. The interesting fact is that you will spend more time on choosing the type of the shower than on its installation.

Cost of labor

The cost of the labor for the installation of the tile shower stall depends on the stage of your project – whether you are building the whole bathroom from scratch or you just want to integrate a new showering unit to fit in the existing premise. So in the first case, you will have to hire a professional tile contractor who will most probably charge you a flat rate per square foot. Most of these professionals will request to be paid in the range of $10 to $15 per sq. ft. (with no materials included). If the tile contractor has to remove existing tiles, then the price will go up, because this type of work is very time consuming. In this case, you can expect to be charged in the range of $20 to $30 per sq. ft.

tiling a shower labor

Depending on the specifications of your project, you may also need to hire a plumber, although if you decide to stick to a simpler solution that doesn’t need any additional plumbing, the tile professional (or an experienced handyman) can handle the installation of the shower unit without hesitation. Yet, many projects require hiring a plumber who will charge you in the range of $25 to $65 per hour. Bear in mind that sticking to a licensed plumber will make you feel more comfortable and confident about the quality of the delivered work.

If you decide to buy a modern showering unit that has some additional functionalities, electronic panels and display, you will have to hire an electrician to handle the wiring work. A handyman can also do that, but it is advisable for you to reach an experienced and specialized professional. Modern showering units are not cheap and if in future, a specific problem occurs, your guarantee may not be approved if the unit is not installed by a professional electrician. Hiring such assistance will cost you $50 – $80 per hour on average.

A wise thing to do is to aim at hiring only experienced professionals that will provide you with some further exploitation guarantee. Bear in mind that the problems with the bathroom and more specifically – the showering area (a water leakage for example), are the most unpleasant for solving, because most of the time, they will require the complete removal of the existing tiling finish and all the materials that have been integrated into the system. All these unnecessary costs and waste of time can be avoided if you plan carefully and do your initial homework.

Total budget estimation

The estimation of the budget that you should set aside for such project can vary widely depending on the quality of the construction materials, the type of floor tiling, the showering unit and its functionalities and the size of the shower stall. The following budget estimation is based on a 20 sq. ft. shower stall.

Type of expenditureWhat is includedQtyLow tierHigh tierThe popular choice
Construction materialsPrimer, Floor screed, Insulation boards, Waterproofing, Tile adhesive, Grout, Sealants For 20 sq. ft.$350$1400$500
TilesCeramic, Porcelain, Stone, Slate or Glass tiles
(+20% extra tiles if some are compromised)
For 20 sq. ft.$100$850$450
Shower unitShower body + head (depending on the type)1$350$4000$1100
LaborDepending on the need of the project (plumber, tile contractor or electrician)3 – 8 hours$150$1350$450

The most important thing when calculating the total cost for your project is to carefully consider the type of the showering unit that you would like to install. This can drive the price up or down significantly because it will define whether you will need to hire a professional electrician for example. That is why the careful planning is the most important part of the whole process.

Although a very popular project, the shower stall installation, alongside with all the tiling work, has some typical and very specific details that can be tricky if you aren’t informed enough. A very important thing to take in mind, when you are about to start such project is never to cut corners with the quality of the materials that you have chosen. For example – the good tile does not only look nice, it can withstand numerous aggressors and heavy loads, without being compromised. The tiling finish is the best combination of durability, long-term exploitation quality and beautiful design that you can find on the market. Choosing a functional and aesthetically pleasing showering unit in addition, will turn your bathroom into your favorite place in your home.


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