While home renovations may seem to be a daunting task, the bathroom is one part of any refurbishment that is important to get right and ensure your shower zone and shower niche are completely waterproof. You’ll want to create a visually stunning walk-in shower with enough storage for all of your bathroom items, like shampoo bottles, that without a shower niche, often end up stacked along the floor.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps of how to waterproof a shower niche and ensure that the waterproofing prevents any leaks or moisture from penetrating the walls around the shower zone.
There are many construction methods when building a shower niche, from using a stud and drywall type construction to carving a niche in an existing brick wall. Depending on the construction of the wall around the shower zone, this will also differ in the best way to waterproof the niche area. To give you an example, we’ll look at waterproofing a shower niche made with drywall or cement board.
Why Do You Need To Waterproof A Shower Niche?
Let’s look at the most common type of construction when installing a shower niche and that’s using a timber or steel stud frame that’s clad with drywall or cement board. There are waterproof, or more so ‘water-resistant’ types of drywall available, however, you’ll still need to apply a waterproofing treatment around the shower niche to ensure it is completely waterproof.
Steps To Waterproofing a Shower Niche Made With Drywall Or Cement Board
Before you launch into your waterproofing exercise, here are the tools and materials you need:
Clean Drywall And Remove All Dust
First, you want to clean the drywall area of all dust and debris from the construction process. Use a vacuum cleaner to clear out all the loose drywall and dust from the shower niche.
Once dust-free, use a damp cloth with a little water to wipe all the edges and sides of the exposed drywall in the shower niche. Give it a few minutes to completely dry before moving onto step 2.
Hyde Tools Margin Trowel
- Fits easily into mixing buckets and hard-to-reach areas
- High-lift handle for maximum hand clearance
- One-piece high carbon steel blade; hardened, tempered and ground
M-D Building Products Square Notch Trowel
- 11-Inchx 4-1/2-Inch premium trowel
- Comfort grip handle
- Aluminum die cast shank
Fill Cracks And Holes With Thin-set Mortar
Fill any large holes or joints in the drywall with a thin-set mortar. Most mortar types will be pre-mixed and will spread and set quickly with minimum fuss. If you have any large holes, you may want to let these dry completely before moving onto the next step.
Use the margin trowel to smooth a small amount of thin-set mortar along each joint or corner in the drywall niche. Next cut the mesh tape into lengths to suit each edge of the shower niche, and place it along each joint or corner of the niche while the thin-set mortar is still wet.
Use the margin trowel to push the tape into each joint and along all of the corners in the niche and smooth over with some more thin-set mortar to create a smooth even coat so that no mesh tape is exposed. Allow for the thin-set mortar to dry completely.
Note: Control is crucial here, especially in the corners, which may require pressing the mesh tape into the joint corner with a finger or a small rounded paintbrush end. Try not to apply the mortar too thick as it will make the next steps more tricky.
Simple Set Thin-Set Mortar
- This no-mix, no mess alternative to traditional thin-set mortars spreads quickly and easily
- Bonds porcelain, stone, marble, granite and ceramic
- Tile up to 18" x 18" (45cm x 45cm)
X Fasten Fiberglass Waterproofing Mesh Tape
- Compatible With Common Waterproofing Polymers
- Optimal Thickness
- Extremely Durable & Delivers Professional Results
Apply The Waterproof Membrane
Once the shower niche is dry, you’re ready to apply the waterproof membrane to the entire shower niche area. The USG Durock brand waterproof membrane is a great option as it’s easy to apply and doesn’t drip too much or smell toxic. A liquid waterproof membrane is best as they reach all the small gaps or cracks and remain flexible when dry.
Note: It’s worth using protective gloves and keeping a window open while working with the membrane to aid ventilation during the drying process.
First, cut some more tape to the length of each joint or corner, the same as with the thin-set mortar steps.
Next, you’ll want to use the small paintbrush to apply a small amount of the waterproof membrane to the corners and joints of the shower niche. Press in the tape along each joint and corner using the paintbrush and apply some more of the membrane until the tape is covered and there are no holes or visible cracks.
Use the large paintbrush to apply the waterproof membrane to the larger panels of the shower niche and paint an even coat over the entire shower niche section. The drywall should be completely covered by the waterproof membrane and extend around 6-inches outside of the shower niche on the main shower zone of the wall.
It’s worth using the remaining waterproof membrane to paint the entire shower zone from the shower tray up to the ceiling or area to be tiled, as this will greatly improve waterproofing the area and prevent any leaks in the future.
Pro Tip: Once finished with the first coat of waterproof membrane, wrap your paintbrushes in plastic wrap or a plastic bag to stop them from drying out between coats.
USG Durock Brand Waterproof Membrane
- Available in 1-gallon and 3.5 gallon pails
- Anti-fracture protection up to 1/8 in. (3mm) over shrinkage and other non-structural cracks
- Can be rolled, brushed, troweled, and sprayed
Wooster Paint Brush (Small)
- Soft brush tips provide a smooth and even finish with all latex and oil-based paints
- White nylon and gold polyester with chisel trim
- Brass-plated steel ferrule
Magimate Paint Brush (Large)
- Selected Premium Stain Block Brush
- Wide and Thick Deck Brush
- Brush with a Threaded Grip
Allow Membrane To Dry, Apply Second Coat
You’ll need to apply a second coat to the entire area of the shower niche, this step is the same as step 3 above, however, you won’t need to apply tape to the corners this time. Just apply the waterproof membrane using the brushes.
Once your second coat of waterproofing membrane is dry, inspect the shower niche and check for any non-covered areas or cracks in the membrane. Touch up with the small brush and some more waterproofing membrane if required.
And that’s it, your shower niche is now fully waterproof and ready for tiling.
While waterproofing may sound like a daunting and technical task at first, we hope that these steps above show how easy it is to waterproof a shower niche and shower zone for any bathroom renovation project.
The entire project time for waterproofing a shower niche is around 2 days including time for drying, so not only is it quick but also relatively easy to apply. As we’ve mentioned above, correctly applying a waterproof membrane to your shower niche will ensure that your bathroom renovation will be waterproof and leak-free for many years to come.