How to Build a Niche for your Shower – Part 1

by Roger

This four part series describes methods to create a niche in your shower wall for tile. Please read through all four parts before starting. Your layout dictates the size and placement of your niche. You need all this information before making a hole in your wall! Or don’t – it isn’t my shower, eh? :whistle:

How to build a built in shower niche / shelfFraming

A shower niche, shelf, cubby, beer Pepsi storage, whatever you want to call it is one of the most requested add-ons for any showers I build. After all, everyone needs a place to store the important stuff – like your rubber ducky, as well as the unimportant stuff like soap and shampoo. So being the super-cool, quirky, lovable (with a healthy dose of jackassery) guy that I am – I’m gonna show you how to build one.

To the left you will see a photo of a niche with a shelf – we’re not gonna build that one. It’s just there to show you what you can do with the technique I am describing. I will explain how to do that in the last part of this series.

With any shower niche there are a couple of details you should pay attention to which will make it look like it belongs there rather than something you looked at drunk one night and thought “Hey! Let’s cut a hole in the shower wall so I can put my rubber ducky in there.” That’s not really a good look – rubber ducky or not.

One of the most important things I always do is line up the top and bottom (and sides if possible) with the grout lines in the field tile. The field tile is just the main tile on your shower wall. In doing this you keep the flow of the shower consistent and the niche doesn’t look like an afterthought – I hate that.

The way I do this is to actually install part of the field tile up to that point then I cut my niche out of the wall. This ensures you fall exactly on a grout line and don’t miss it by 1/4″ because you miscalculated. So, you need to have your wall all prepped and ready and some tile already installed before we start with the niche.

Before you start installing tile there are a couple of things you need to do. As you are preparing your walls for tile with backerboard, drywall and Kerdi, elastomeric liquid topical waterproofing membrane (No, I didn’t have my pinky in the air as I typed that. It’s just liquid membrane like Redgard) or whatever waterproofing method you’ve chosen, you need to write down the measurements to the inside and outside of the two studs between which you plan to install your niche.

Your niche needs to be placed between two wall studs. These are (normally) 14 1/2″ apart so assuming you have 12″ or 13″ tiles you can build a niche the size of one full tile wide. If you want one like the photo above it will be one tile wide and two high. Write those measurements down because once you get your walls up and ready to cut the niche out you need to know exactly where to cut.

If you have unusually placed studs (insert lame joke here) you will need to frame out the sides of the niche before covering them up with your wall substrate. Do not frame the top and bottom, only the sides. The top and bottom will be framed after we figure out exactly where they need to be placed and that happens after you already have some tile installed.

If you do end up framing it you need to add an inch to the measurement. If you have 12″ tiles make the studs 13″ apart. This is so you can add a 1/2″ piece of drywall or backerboard to each stud and have the correct measurement for your tile.

Completed tile shower niche

We're gonna build this one

The photo to the right is the niche I am going to walk you through. I chose this particular niche because it illustrates the point about the grout lines. And because I have pictures of it from start to finish. See how the sides and top and bottom of the niche all line up with the grout lines in the rest of the tile? It looks like it belongs there. That’s what I mean when I say type that.

This niche is 13 x 13 x 3 inches. The 13’s because that is the size of the tile and the 3 because that is the width of the bullnose. You can make the niche as deep as your wall will allow if you chose but(!) if your bullnose is only three inches wide and you choose to make your niche 3 1/2 inches deep (which is usually the amount of space between walls) you will have a 1/2″ sliver of tile on each plane of the niche behind the bullnose – and that looks like crap! So don’t do that.

Or if you chose to do that please tell everyone “the FloorElf showed me how to make that! Yeah, I know it looks like crap – he said it was gonna look like crap – but I did it anyway.” I’d appreciate it.

One more thing before we start (get on with it already!), this shower is built using the Kerdi membrane and drywall. You can, however, utilize this method with any type of shower you are building.

If you are using simply cement backerboard with a moisture barrier you will need to get Kerdi or one of the aforementioned fancy-ass word waterproofing liquids to make the niche waterproof. You cannot place a moisture barrier behind this and have it be waterproof – it simply won’t work. And your rubber ducky may burst into flames and who wants that? So snuff out your rubber ducky and lets get this damn thing built!

You may click on any of the photos below for a full-size version of how horrible my photography skills actually are.

Marking and cutting the opening for a tiled shower niche

1. Cutting the opening.

Photo 1: I have marked and cut out the opening for the niche. To the right of the niche I have installed a vertical row of tile and marked the lines with a level line from the grout joints between those tiles. That’s the big secret to getting everything lined up.

The opening is cut to the exact size. Notice on the right side of the opening you can barely make out the wall stud? That’s because there is 1/2″ space between the right side of the opening and the stud. I will install a 1/2″ piece of drywall there to bring the side flush with the opening.

In case you are unfamiliar with it – the bright orange on the wall is the Schluter Kerdi membrane. It is a thin polyethylene sheet which is installed directly to drywall to waterproof your shower. And its awesome. Just sayin’.

Inserting the horizontal framing for a tiled shower niche

2. Inserting the horizontal framing

Photo 2: Measure the exact distance between the studs. Measure the top and the bottom – they may be a bit different and these measurements need to be exact. Now add 1/16″ to the measurement and cut a 2×4 that size. One for the top and one for the bottom.

Place the 2×4 between the studs and tap it down with a hammer. Don’t bang on it like its the last DMV employee you spoke with – just tap it lightly. You do not want to pound it down too far. If you do you’re SOL.

If you do happen to pound it down too far you can drive a screw into the top of it and pull it back up. You may want to use the claw on your hammer to get a good grip on it. Do not pry your hammer back like you are attempting to pull the screw out! Just place it on there in the same manner and lift the 2×4 back up.

Top and bottom framing for tiled shower niche

3. Tap the 2 x 4's 1/2" down past the opening

Photo 3: Tap the 2×4 down 1/2″ past the edge of the opening you’ve cut out. Exactly 1/2″. This will allow you to install the 1/2″ drywall or backerboard to bring the top and bottom flush with the opening. Now put two screws into each one. Screw them from the front right through your substrate into the 2×4’s. You can see that in photo 4 – two in the top and two in the bottom. This keeps them in place.

If you did not previously frame the sides to the exact width (which I did with this particular niche so it is not shown) you will need to add additional framing to the sides to bring them in 1/2″ from the opening as well. You need every side of the niche 1/2″ away from the opening you’ve cut out of your wall.

Just screw any additional pieces directly to the side studs. You can use a 2×4 (1 1/2″ wide) a 1×2 (3/4″ wide) or build up 1/2″ and/or 1/4″ plywood strips to whatever you need to get them to the correct spot.

Sides of niche completed with substrate

4. Inside of niche with substrate installed

Photo 4: Notice the two screws through the wall into each horizontal framing member?

Cut strips of your drywall or backerboard to the correct dimensions for the inside of the niche. In this case two each of 3 1/2″ by 14″ and 3 1/2″ by 13″. The 14″ place on the top and bottom and the 13″ on the sides. Screw those directly to the 2×4’s.

The bottom piece needs to be slightly higher in the back than the front! It needs to slope towards the opening. This is to ensure that water drains correctly out of it. By slightly I mean very – less than 1/16″ higher in the back than the front. You can just place a small cardboard drywall shim or something similar under the back part of the bottom piece. It cannot be level but you don’t want the top of your shampoo bottle sticking out of the niche – knowwhatimean? Just slope it VERY slightly. Just enough for water to drain but not enough for your soap to slide out of it.

If you have installed the niche framing correctly the sides of the niche as well as the top and bottom should all be absolutely flush with the opening you have cut out. If not remove the offending piece and redo it. If it is not flush your niche will not come out correctly. Fix it now – later is too late.

At this point the top and bottom of your niche should be exactly level with a grout line. If so, well done, move on. If not, well, start over.

Now the final step in framing out your niche will be installing the substrate on the back. If you do not want a 3″ deep niche – you need to figure out the math yourself. If you do want a 3″ deep niche – hey, your in luck. I just happen to have photos of one.

Installing a filler piece for the back of the niche

5. Installing a filler piece for the back of the niche

Photo 5: Cut a piece of your substrate about 1/2″ smaller than your niche opening. This is simply a filler piece for the back. You want a 3″ niche and a 2×4 is 3 1/2″ thick. If you place a 1/2″ filler in the back of the niche POOF! – 3″ niche. (That’s a good name for a band)

Install this filler piece with thinset. If you have a wall on the other side of this wall you do not want to use nails or screws or your wife is gonna kill you for drilling a screw through grandma’s eye in the portrait hanging on the other side of that wall. Thinset is less heartache.

This is a perfect example of why you want to have at least a very general idea of your layout and tile sizes before you start any tile installation. Any add-ons you choose to use will usually center around the specific size of the tile to look correct. If you build your niche for 13″ tile and end up with 12″ tile, well, you’re screwed. It won’t look right. It will look exactly like what it is – an afterthought.

Installing the final back wall piece for your niche

6. The final piece installed and ready to waterproof. This is not yet waterproof! See Part 2

Photo 6: Then take the piece you cut out for your original opening and it will now become the back wall of your niche. And it better damn well fit. :D If it doesn’t, start over. Use thinset on this piece as well.

And that’s it, the basic building of your niche. General rules to take into consideration are:

You usually want to keep your niche the width of one tile. This eliminates any skinny pieces on either side of the niche or strangely placed lines and allows you to line everything up with a grout line. It also eliminates the need for a grout line through the back of your niche to keep the lines consistent.

Keeping the niche the width of one tile is the least important. It is open to interpretation more than the others. If you make it skinnier it may look better. Sometimes a square niche just does not look right and usually looks better in a rectangular shape instead. As long as your top and bottom measurements fall on a grout line you do not need to worry about funny cuts or lines. It’s your shower – make your niche however you think it looks best.

You want to make your niche the height of one or two tiles or one tile plus your liner piece or whatever else you’re placing in the field tile. You want it the height of whatever the space between two horizontal grout lines may be. This eliminates any “L” cuts in your tile to accommodate the niche.

Use common sense regarding whatever is on the other side of the wall you plan on installing the niche into. If there is a handball court on the other side of that wall – pick a different wall. Do the same when placing anything onto that wall. Don’t drive a 16 penny nail into it to hang a portrait of your gerbil – you’ll probably hit tile (or your rubber ducky).

If that particular wall is an outside wall and you live in a cold climate – choose another wall. You only have essentially 1/2″ of free space (your filler piece) between the back of your niche and the outside wall. You cannot get enough insulation in there to prevent freezing. And your shower will be cold, really cold. And your shampoo will freeze. Really, pick another wall.

If you have a liner or listello or row-on-point going through your shower a niche will usually look better with the top either right below it (as in the photos above) or even with the top of it. Make it look like you actually planned it. Not like this photo here:

Incorrectly installed shower niche

Garbage!

This is a photo of the shower I tore out and replaced with the one you see at the very top of the page. This is garbage! It was done by someone claiming to be a professional – bullshit! Click on it – I dare ya. Partake in the full glory of an improper tile installation. The person that installed this  is what I fondly refer to as a hack. If inflicting serious bodily harm ever becomes legal – these people are on my list. You just don’t take someones money and give them shit work and run like a little . . . sorry, I digress. Hacks piss me off.

A lot.

.

Correct placement of a tiled shower niche

Correct

I will, however, save all that fun for another post. My point was the overall look of the placement of the niches. It is way too low, it looks like a shelf for a phone with that corner bench. It does not line up (except for the very top) with any grout lines. It is not level, although you cannot see that very well. Basically it looks like someone drunk cut a random hole in the wall, stuck tile to it and called it a niche. It looks out of place – that’s what I want you to avoid.

The photo below it is from almost the same angle after it was redone correctly. See the difference? It’s all in the flow, baby! (Sorry, I had Sammy Davis Jr. going through my head just now – yeah!) It simply belongs. Very existentialistic, dont’cha think? (I learned that word in college. Comes in very handy in my day to day life as a tile contractor. :D )

In my next post I will describe how to waterproof your niche so all your hard work doesn’t disintegrate in three months. It is currently 2am and I am out of beer need to get some sleep. Until next time I would like to leave you with a photo that explains one of the biggest reasons I put my time into this blog to help you guys out. If you’re squeamish you may want to look away. Have a great night.

I give you: The Incorrect Way to Build a Niche!

Incorrectly tiled shower niche

Now that your niche is ready to waterproof let’s do that – you know, since you’re building a shower and they tend to get moist…Part 2 – Waterproofing a niche.

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Rick

Hi Roger,

It appears that after 10 posts to a single thread, you can no longer reply to that same thread and are required to start a new thread.

So this question will come as the start of a new thread.

Reading one of your other posts from one of your readers (followers), you state that when you place the tile in the niche, you do the sides and bottom before you place the back piece. However, your electronic book “Design” on slide 95 shows that you place the bottom tile first followed by the back followed by the sides. Which is correct? Should the back piece ‘sit’ on the bottom piece or does it really matter what goes in first as long as they are all in and there are no gaps other than the 1/8″ grout line gap? I understand that if I am going to have a mid level shelf, the lower bottom, sides and back go in first and then the mid level shelf followed by the top half above the shelf. I am using a piece of marble for the bottom and mid level shelf.

Thanks for the help!

Reply

Roger

Hey Rick,

Both are correct. :D It depends on the depth of the niche (which way I do it). If I’m only using a bullnose I’ll normally have the back piece behind the bottom piece to have the fullest depth I could. If I’m using a marble shelf or an additional piece of tile behind the bullnose pieces I’ll usually have the back piece sitting on top of the bottom piece.

Provided your niche is properly waterproofed it makes absolutely no difference at all.

Reply

gary

Hey Roger,

I found your thinset pages that answered many questions. I have now figured out to use your search bar :bonk: doh

Please delete my useless questions and mumbling above.
My local tile store has white bostik ditraset so I plan on using that for the niche and use modified porcelain white thinset for the walls, floor, and ceiling.

Does that sound Ok or should I just use Ditraset or modified Porcelain thinset everywhere and save money by buying a single bag of thinset?

Thanks!

Reply

Roger

Either will work.

Reply

gary

hi Roger,

what material did you use for the top shelf in the “correct” picture – it kinda looks like 1/2″ thick marble??? :?:

Reply

Roger

Hi Gary,

It is a cut piece of 1/2″ travertine. I installed 18×18 travertine on the bathroom floor, it’s from that.

Reply

gary

thanks

that shelf looks great! :rockon: looks so much better than cut tile on a wider surface between the shelves like you see on those pre-fab niches

what materials and thicknesses are considered strong enough for an
unsupported shelf like that?

I can’t see the detail when I try to zoom in close – did you shorten the tiles all the way around above and below to fit it in? how did you line up the grout lines with the shelf surface plane?

Reply

Roger

1/2″ is normally more than enough for a small shelf. I usually place two tiles back-to-back to create the shelves, that works as well. I don’t understand what you mean by shortening the tiles all the way around above and below. If you mean cut them to line up with the niche – no, I didn’t. I don’t cut out the hole for my niche until I have some tile installed. I build them to line up with the grout lines.

Reply

gary

Hey Roger,

i am only referring to the shelf.
How was the travertine supported? Was it just supported on the ends only or did it slide under the tiles in back as well as the side?
I can’t really see the detail in the picture, but the grout lines look like 1/4″ and the shelf is 1/2″, so there is probably something going on where the 1/2″ tile meets a 1/4″ grout line in front. Are the tiles just above the shelf in the back and sides of the niche 1/4″ shorter than the field tiles on the same row?

For a shelf with 2 tiles back to back how do you make the front edge look good… maybe 2 bullnose back to back?

Thanks!

Reply

Roger

Yes, two bullnose back to back or just one bullnose on the top half and a square tile edge on the bottom, grout between the two.

Inside a niche I install all the tile on the bottom half, sides and back, the tile rests on all three sides on top of that row, then the tiles above it are cut to line up and lock the shelf in.

Reply

gary

Hi Roger,

SWMBO has stated that she wants the 1/2″ thick natural stone for the entire niche (back, sides, top, bottom and shelf) like you have in the “correct” picture. My field tile is 1/4″ thick 6×6. Is this a nightmare waiting to happen or is this conceivable?

Thanks!

Reply

Roger

Hi Gary,

No reason at all you can’t do that. What are you worried about?

Reply

gary

Thanks,

we got us some beautiful 1/2″ travertine today. The experts at the tile store told me to use unmodified thinset only below and above the Kerdi membrane because the polymers in modified thinset prevent complete drying. I also got the impression that they were also saying (not sure) that only unmodified thinset should ever be used with natural stone – so I got both types of thinset. I have read that you only use and guarantee modified thinset. I’d be interested in your feedback on what they advised.

Also, Which thinset is better on the overlapping kerdi (outside of the niche) below the porcelain field tile?

Thanks

Reply

gary

I forgot to ask above. should we use grey or white thinset with travertine and what color to use with porcelain. All the tile is a darker beige (like coffee with one creamer in it) and the grout color is spectralock’s parchment which is slightly darker than the one creamer coffee.

Thanks

Roger

Hi Gary,

Unmodified (if it is a good one) works just fine. That said, you can use either. They both work. Unmodified works fine on seam overlaps.

Chris

Hello Roger,
Thanks for the great and informative site, btw.

We are converting our tub alcove to a 3′-5″ x 5’10” walk-in shower. My wife is asking for a bench and a niche. So far, I’ve decided the traditional method as the easiest until reading your info on niches above. (using pre-pitch & quick pitch sticks to slope floor w/ vinyl liner).

2 concerns:
1) If I am using a vapor barrier and backerboard and I cut the vapor barrier to install a niche, does this effect the integrity of the waterproofing since it is no longer continuous? You mention to use Kerdi or liquid membrane to waterproof the niche, will moisture be an issue due to the fact I cut the vapor barrier even if the niche is waterproofed with liquid membrane? Sounds like if I opt for vapor barrier method, niches should be nixed.

2) If I go with a liquid membrane (tossing the vinyl liner & vapor barrier to the winds) and I want a corner seat, is it still feasible to build it out of cinder block after the floor has been pitched or should I build a 2×4 frame and install it before pitching the floor, using your directions concerning using backerboard on the front and mud on the seat then waterproof with liquid membrane??

Thanks for you assistance. Looking forward to knocking this out.

Reply

Roger

Hi Chris,

1. You need to just silicone the barrier to the back of your substrate so it creates a dam which water will run around. That takes care of waterproofing behind it, the liquid takes care of the niche itself.

2. The framing with backer and mud with redgard over it would be the way to go.

Reply

Chris

Thanks for the quick reply.

I am going to look into the liquid membrane. A couple more days isn’t going to bother me too much on this project.

Reply

Chris

Hello again Roger,

One quick follow up on the directions above.

When installing the substrate you cut out for your niche, you said we should add a 1/2″ of filler behind it. So we’d add 1/2″ filler and 1/2″ cutout. This will add up to 1″ making the niche 2 1/2″ deep rather than 3″ deep. Or is my math as tired as I am???

Reply

Roger

If your wall studs are 3 1/2″ deep, as they should be, then the 1/2″ of substrate on the shower wall makes the total 4″ deep. If using a 1/2″ filler plus the 1/2″ substrate in the back it makes it 3″ deep from the face of the wall to the back of the niche. You don’t need to add the 1/2″ filler, I just to it to avoid a 1/2″ strip of tile in the back with three inch bullnose. You can leave it there if you want, personal choice.

Reply

Kevin

Roger,

One of the studs on the niche is somewhat twisted (boy, is that an opening) and out of plumb (1/4+) in 22″. When attaching the Densshield, should I back fill with thinset to make it plumb, let harden then sink the fasteners. Was going to just shim it plumb, then I thought this approach would be superior. Whatcha think?

Thanks,
Kev

Reply

Roger

Hey Kevin,

Either method works just as well.

Reply

Rick

Roger,

I am at the planning stage of preparing my shower wall for two side-by-side Niches. In planning for these two Niches, based on my wall stud framing at 16″ on center, I am not sure how to get them both to line up with vertical grout lines based on 12″ x 12″ wall tiles.

P.S. Is there a way to attach photos to your blog to help get a better understanding of the question people like me have?

Rick

Reply

Roger

Hi Rick,

Sometimes you can’t. The wall framing will dictate it, you can’t really move your wall framing to accommodate a niche. I had a plugin to upload photos but it was buggy and sometimes filled the entire page with the photo – I got rid of it. :D You can upload photos here.

Reply

Rick

Thanks for the information Roger. The shower area that I am tiling is one that I am adding as a new addition to my home. I have the ability to place the niches between the wall studs at a height from 30″ (Lowest point) up 77″ (Highest point), is there a preferred elevation the bottom shelf should be? How tall should the opening be for the niche area? If I place an intermediate shelf in between the opening, how tall would you recommend the bottom half and upper half be?

Rick

Reply

Roger

Every one of those questions comes down to personal choice. I normally make the bottom shelf 4 feet high, make the niche two feet high and have a shelf right in the middle (most common shampoo bottles are 11 inches tall). That normally matches up best with grout lines, at least horizontally.

Reply

Rick

Thank you so much for your quick response and insight! I will take pictures from beginning to end starting with the pre-slope to the finished product following all of your guidance in your books that I have purchased.

Rick

Reply

Rick

A couple more questions; 1) If I am going to build two side-by-side niches and I am going to use 12″ x 12″ tiles in the field and these niches will be set in-between 16″ OC studs, what do you recommend for the space between the two niches? Since my wall studs are completely exposed right now, I have the ability of adjusting the width of each niche and frame in an area that will allow the horizontal position to be adjusted of each a few inches left or right based on a niche that is not the full width of the studs. 2) I am currently planning on installing a frosted frameless sliding shower door but since I have a completely exposed shower frame (as this is a new addition to my home), would you recommend some other type of opening that may be more aesthetically (big word for me :) ) pleasing to add to the uniqueness and focus of the shower area? The shower foot print is 72″ wide by 38″ deep (inside dimensions).

Rick

Reply

Roger

Hi Rick,

I normally leave 3″-3 1/2″ between the niches when they are side by side.

Another personal choice. A lot of my customers go with clear, normally frameless glass to showcase the tile work.

Reply

Rick

Hello Roger,

Since my shower wall is completely exposed, I have the ability to modify the stud layout. To help match up both horizontal and vertical grout lines, instead of placing two niches side-by-side, what would you say if I just built one niche that is 24″ x 24″ with a marble or some other form of stone as a shelf at the mid point of 12″? Is there such a thing as too wide of a niche?

Reply

Roger

Hey Rick,

It’s completely a personal choice. If you can do that and still have proper framing go for it.

Reply

Rick

Hi Roger,

Questions:
1) If I want a deeper niche than a 3” bullnose will provide and don’t want a grout line somewhere in the middle or back of the niche, I was thinking of using a quarter-round tile to transition from the front field tile to the sides/bottom/top of the niche and then cutting pieces of regular field tile to fill in the depth that I want. Does quarter-round tile look ‘Ok’ as the framing (transition) around a niche or is bullnose preferred? If so, does a different color of quarter-round that compliments the tile add to the design and aesthetic look? My intent is to use quarter-round tile on the top inside and outside lip of the shower dam as well as the transition from the tiled shower wall to the painted bathroom wall.

2) If I use a piece of marble as a shelf in the middle of the niche, would it look better to use a piece of marble for the bottom shelf as well?

Thanks for being there (here) for us DIYs!

Rick

Carlo

Roger, thank you for this great website. My question is:
Would it be easier to install the piece of backer board on the 2x4s that make the bottom and top of the niche BEFORE installing them? Wouldn’t that assure that we are correctly lined up with the hole? I mean cut the 2×4, make sure it fits snug, pull it out, install the backerboard on it, reinstall it and secure it once it’s flush and plumb?
I’m sorry if this question has been answered before, I’ve going crazy reading up on all this stuff for the past 12 hours and my brain is fried.
Again thank you for these invaluable help.

Reply

Roger

Hi Carlo,

You can if you want. No reason at all that wouldn’t work.

Reply

Adam

Hi John,

I’m at the point where I am ready to cut the hole into the Kerdi. At risk of sounding stupid, whats the best way to cut the hole as clean as possible. Score the Kerdi with a box cutter then use a drywall knife is what i’m thinking. Whats your suggestion. Thanks.

Reply

Adam

Roger, not John. Not sure where that came from.

Reply

Roger

I’ve been called worse. :D

Reply

Roger

Hi Adam,

Just a regular razor knife works just fine.

Reply

John

Need some advice on tile layout for a shower. Vertically, I’m good, but horizontally, I have a dilemma. I’m using 5.75″ tile with 1/16″ spacing and have 7.5″ between the shower corner and the edge of the 13″ niche. 33″ width of tile overall. Should I:

1) Use (5) full tiles from the bullnose in with a 3 15/16″ tile in the corner; or
2) center a tile on the niche, then put a 4″ cut tile on the corner and a 4″ cut bullnose on the outside.
3) something else?

Thanks for your help!

Reply

Roger

Hi John,

Number one would likely be my choice.

Reply

John

Even though (1) leaves a 1 3/4″ sliver between the side of the niche and the 4.25″ corner edge (inside) tile?

Reply

Roger

Yes. If it’s only down the side of the niche it’s fine, If it’s all the way down the wall it’s a different story.

Reply

John

Thanks very much, Roger!

Reply

John

A design change. Rather than a 33″ run, she who must be obeyed :bonk: wants 31″. This changes the original options to:

1) Use (5) full tiles from the bullnose in with a 1 15/16″ tile in the corner; or
2) center a tile on the niche, then put a 3.75″ cut tile on the corner and a 3.75″ cut bullnose on the outside.

Do you still recommend option (1) ?

Reply

John

This would be 1 15/16″ all the way down the wall.

Reply

Roger

Option 2. Center it.

Reply

John

Thanks again!

Reply

MJ

Hi Roger,

Great post..

I am designing a niche, and i have the following questions!

1. The back of the niche is drywall. I am planning to put a 1/2″ plywood substrate.. can I and should I use thinset to attach it to the back drywall?

2. So with a 1/2″ plywood in the back, i plan to attach my cement backerboard to it. again should i use thin set and or screws to attach it?

3. so now with 1/2″ plywood and 1/2″ backerboards in the back, am left with 2.5″ base for the niche, which i feel is too small. I really want a 4-5″ base, and i was thinking of using maybe a 2×6 instead of a 2×4 bottom base. so it would be like having a niche and a shelf sticking out. does that make sense? and would i be able to properly waterproof it and tile it??

Thanks a lot,
MJ

Reply

Roger

Hi MJ,

1. Thinset.

2. Thinset.

3. You can get a natural stone piece (like granite or marble) cut and sized for a bottom shelf. It can stick out as far as you want. Build the bottom like the above, then just bond the shelf piece to it.

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Matt

Thanks for all of your help so far. By reading your tile and stone installation handbook I’ve learned that balance is important! So, I have a question…

I’m in the process of placing a 12″ x 20″ shower niche (short side parallel to the floor) in a 3 wall alcove shower (29.5″ x 60″) which is being converted from a bath tub.

I would like to locate the niche on the short wall without the controls. I’m struggling to find a location that creates balance. Do I center it relative to the edge of the short wall, the middle of the curb where the enclosure will be, or the inside edge of the curb? Or, do I locate it directly across from the shower controls (which are approx. centered relative to the middle of the curb).

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Roger

Hi Matt,

I would locate it across from the shower controls.

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Jon

When you are talking about adding substrate to the back of the niche to allow for a 3″ depth, don’t you have to take into account the thickness of the substrate on the shower walls? For example, with a 3″ bullnose tile, 2×4 framing, and 1/2″ substrate, you would need to need to place 2 layers of 1/2″ substrate at the back of the niche. The first layer would bring the edge of the bullnose to the edge of the 2×4 and the second layer would bring it out to the edge of the substrate on the wall. What say you?

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Roger

Hi Jon,

Yes, an additional 1/2″ will get you to 3″.

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Jan

Hi Roger,
I’m hoping you can help with my situation. I think you’ve probably encountered everything.
I’ve purchased a polystyrene pre-formed niche to install in my shower. I’ve got a spot for it between the studs and have inserted a horizontal stud for it to sit on. I had to cut the plastic vapor barrier to get it smooshed in there – not to mention that the niche won’t stick to the wall with the plastic. My question is: how do I waterproof around the niche now? In one forum, they put silicone around the edges – I’m just not sure. Should I tape and mud around it?
HELP!
and, THANK YOU!
Jan

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Roger

Hi Jan,

Silicone the plastic to the back of the backer to create a seal all the way around the opening with the barrier, then silicone the niche in there. You can tape and mud it in if you want to also, it’s normally not required.

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Jan

That makes me feel better – ahhhh – thank you so much! :)

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gary

Great info, thanks.
When you say “do not put the nook on an outside wall in a cold climate,” what do you consider cold climate. I am on Long Island and surely it goes well below freezing in the winter, but do I consider myself a cold climate in Zone 7a?

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Roger

Hi Gary,

You’re fine. Anything around zone 5 would be a no-go.

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gary

Thank you Roger. I appreciate the time you take to answer questions.

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Corb

Great post! The series is very helpful, but how did you do the shelf?

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Roger

Hi Corb,

Magic. :D

I don’t know what you mean? Do you mean because of the size of the tile? If so I cut one of the floor tiles which were 18’s. But you can do it with the subway tile as well by bonding tiles back to back and offset by 50%.

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JK

Great post! Informative and entertaining. Jackassery is the future of now.

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Ros

We’re trying to determine the best spot for our shower stall niche. I understand about outside walls, but what do you think about installing it on the same wall as the shower head?

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Roger

Hi Ros,

It’s just fine. In fact I just finished one like that and am working on another this week (same house). I routed the water lines up to the mixing valve then horizontally and up the side of the niche and back over the top to create a space for the niche right in the center of the wet wall between the control valve and shower head. It looks pretty cool.

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