Tile Floor – Size in a Shower

    Here is a little tip to keep in mind when you are selecting a tile floor for your shower. Make sure the tile is relatively small. The reason might not seem obvious at first. A shower floor needs to have a slope so the water will flow toward the drain. Puddles in a shower floor are a slipping hazard and mold will grow in the puddle quite quickly. Generally, the drain is placed in the center of the floor to create an even slope from each wall to the drain.

    It is this slope that comes from several directions that makes using large tiles impractical. The floor is essentially “warped.” where the slope changes, the tile floor needs to approximate a curve. If you used large tiles, they could not be laid smoothly. Inevitably, some of the corners will end up sticking up. There is no tile setter in the world who can avoid this problem. It’s a simple matter of geometry.

    Tiles on shower floors should be no larger than 4″x4″. 2″x2″ or smaller is even better. Most tile styles will have a selection of small tiles you can choose from, thus keeping your color scheme intact. Smaller tiles will allow the tile setter to make your shower floor nice and smooth. Your feet will thank you for your forethought.

UPDATE – Patty asked this question:

  Do you have a picture of how the 2×2 tile slope should look on a shower floor. We just removed the tub and made a walking in shower. Unfortunately the drain could not be in the middle. We had to keep the tub drain location. I want to understand how the proper tile floor should look like please. I am unhappy how ours look.Here is an UPDATE to answer Patty’s question.  I don’t have a photo of 2″x2″ tiles handy, but here is one with 4″x4″ tiles. 
Tile set on a sloping shower floor should usually be set with the edges at the wall level all around to give it the cleanest look.

Tile set on a sloping shower floor should usually be set with the edges at the wall level all around to give it the cleanest look.

It is best to set the floor tile so that the line where it meets the wall is level all the way around the shower. This will give the cleanest look. If the drain is in the exact middle of a square shower, the slope (degrees of pitch) toward the drain will be the same all the way around. In the example in this photgraph, the distance from the drain to the back and sides is about the same. So the slope on those sides is identical. However, the distance to the front edge from the drain is considerable more. But the drop to the drain (the amount the floor falls from the wall to the drain) is the same as the back and the sides. So the slope in the front must end up being less steep at the front.

Patty, you asked about a shower that was built in place of an existing tub. When you say that the drain had to remain in the same location it was in when the tub was there, this probably means that the drain is quite close to the wall. This can present a dilemma. If you try to keep the edges of the floor where it meets the wall level all around, the tiles on the very short side will end up tilted severely. I hope this isn’t what they did. The other alternative is to let the line where the floor meets the wall slope down towards the drain. this may not be as “clean” a look as usual, but it would look better than having severely tilted tiles at the wall the drain is very near.

I hope I explained this properly. If not, please let me know what is confusing. If I misunderstood your question, Patty, maybe you could send me a photo so I can understand it better.

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Bill Hirsch

Bill Hirsch

7 Comments

  1. Patty on August 29, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Do you have a picture of how the 2×2 tile slope should look on a shower floor. We just removed the tub and made a walking in shower. Unfortunately the drain could not be in the middle. We had to keep the tub drain location. I want to understand how the proper tile floor should look like please. I am unhappy about how ours look.

    Thanks,
    Patty

    • Bill Hirsch Bill on August 29, 2009 at 5:57 pm

      Patty – I updated the blog post with my answer so I could include the photo. I hope I answered it clearly. If the contrator did not move the drain location, your shower floor should have ended up looking similar to the bottom of the bathtub it replaced. It makes me wonder why he didn’t simply move the drain. He would have had the floor ripped up anyway.

  2. Katy Sewell on April 29, 2015 at 9:20 am

    My husband and I are wanting to update some of the rooms in our home. I think it would be really nice to begin with our master bathroom. We both agree that the 80’s tile should be replaced to a more modern and sleek design. http://www.tilewarehouse.com.au

  3. Micheal on August 22, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    Better for small bathroom with the size of this tile.

  4. carolyn on February 23, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    i chose a 2×4 tile with texture to use as flooring in my doorless 4×6 shower. now i’m being told this will not work. shall i suggest the tile layer cut it so that it’s 2×2 or would 2×4 work? drain is square.

    • Bill Hirsch William Hirsch on March 3, 2016 at 11:55 am

      Carolyn – I don’t see why a 2″ x 4″ tile would not work in a shower floor. I would suggest not cutting the tiles since cutting will leave you with sharp edges on the tile. It would be better to insist the tilesetter work with the 2″ x 4″ tiles. He will have to cut tiles at the edge of the drain, probably. And he will cut tiles at the wall where you won’t be stepping on them with bare feet.

  5. gạch giá rẻ on July 24, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    I updated the blog post with my answer so I could include the photo. I hope I answered it clearly.

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