I enjoy working with clients to come up with unique designs for their tile projects that fit their home and tastes, however, sometimes it just needs to be cheap!  That was the case with this recent shower surround project.  It was in a bathroom at a small Nashville condo that my client’s used for rental income.  Part of the old tile installation had failed and water was dripping on the residents in the unit below whenever the shower was used.  It was time for a new surround.

One of the easiest ways to save money on a surround is to use larger tiles.  I’d say that using 12″ x 12″ tiles like these in a simple grid takes around half as much labor as 3″ x 6″ staggered subway tiles.  You can cover the area quicker and there are many few cuts to make.  This client also saved money by choosing a basic ceramic tile that can be purchased for under $1 per square foot.  However, I’ll mention that cheap tiles can sometimes be frustrating to install because their size is not always perfectly uniform.

The existing tile was 4×4″ ceramic tile attached to drywall with some sort of adhesive.  Not the best method in a wet location like a shower.  After removing the old tiles, I installed a layer of Schluter’s Kerdi membrane that will basically make the entire surround waterproof.  The tile is installed right over the top of the membrane.

This job was done in three days, though four is more typical if there’s much prepwork to do to get the walls ready.  It’s not fancy, but for this rental it was a nice improvement and it keeps the neighbors dry.