Do I Need to Waterproof Shower Walls and Floors Before Tiling?

Last Updated: August 26, 2022 | By JULIAN GILL

Do I Need to Waterproof Shower Walls and Floors

Before you stay laying that tile, take a moment to question this: Do I need to waterproof shower walls and floors before tiling? Your answer? Yes, you will need to waterproof your floors and walls before tiling. Here’s how.

What do you use to waterproof a shower?

There are a few options available to waterproof a shower. Your two recommended options are:

  • Liquid membranes: These are cost-effective options and can be done by most homeowners without bringing in a specialist. They involve liquid application with a paintbrush and it can be done quickly and without expertise. Modern versions are fast to cure, too.
  • Sheet or foam-backed board membrane: This is a bit more costly up front and will require specialized equipment and installation. It involves using a sheet or a foam-backed membrane that is going to offer a longer waterproofing agent.

What is the best way to waterproof a shower?

Here are some points to consider:

  • A new shower build versus a retrofit: If you start from the studs as a new build, a great idea to look at the sheet or board membranes. The cost of the membrane is often included in a brand new install. Since this is the best option as far as overall quality, it’s a great choice. If you are retrofitting, though, the liquid membrane is going to be the most cost-effective way, since the board options would be a little more expensive.
  • The long-term plan for your budget: Budget is obviously one of the most important factors. If you are okay with an upfront cost at first for long-term enjoyment, the foam board is your best option. If you need to save your pennies, the liquid membrane is going to help you get the job done with minimal costs.
  • DIY vs hiring a professional: As mentioned, the board and classic membranes often require some sort of expertise in them to be done correctly. The liquid application is DIY-friendly. These both come with cost differences, too, with the concept of “sweat labor”.

How to waterproof shower walls before tiling

If you go with the liquid membrane, the steps are relatively simple:

  • Build or modify the shower to your specifications
  • Paint over the shower with the liquid membranes
  • Make sure to follow instructions on the number of coats
  • Cure for 24 hours in between each coat
  • Apply your tile

If you do decide to go with something more advanced with the foam board, you’ll need to bring in a professional.

How to waterproof a shower floor

The steps to waterproof the shower floor properly are below for you, again, with the liquid membrane:

  • Apply generous primer coat (this helps prepare the surface)
  • Fill in the corners of the wall and floor with silicone
  • Apply waterproofing coat and apply generously to the floor

Notice anything? That’s right, it’s almost identical to the walls! The only difference here is that the primer and silicone seals give it a bit of extra waterproofing power. This is important since the floor is going to take a lot more water than the floor!

You might also like: Prova Shower System Reviews


Whether you decide to take the DIY route, or you go instead for something like the professional installation, knowing how the waterproofing process works is really helpful. 



author of julian gill pictureJulian Gill

Julian Gill is a mechanical engineer and Certified in Plumbing Design (CPD) and worked as a plumbing engineer for ten years. Besides this, he is interested in home improvement and currently works as a writer. @JulianGillPro

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