Full Bathroom Reno Day 12: How to Tile Shower with Stacked Stone

Jake and I have been doing the bathroom renovation work on weeknights and weekends, mostly by ourselves. We've had a little help from one friend, Jake's brother-in-law, and my sweet Dad. However, when I got home from work ready for Day 12, another friend was there already. He and Jake had already trimmed trees outside AND we're grilling dinner. What a treat. We enjoyed a delicious grilled meal and then got to work.
When we left off on Day 11, we just completed waterproofing the shower walls to prepare for tile. First, we mixed our thinset just like we mixed it when applying the waterproof tape. 
thinset for natural stacked stone

Jake and our friend developed a system: our friend applied the thinset and prepared the wall, while Jake cut the tile to size. Jake brought the new tile in, and our friend secured it to the wall. Jake measured, and the process cycled. My job was to pick out which tile I wanted to go next (more on that in a second), hold flashlights, grab things, etc.

We used a notched trowel to apply the thinset to the wall.

trowel and tools to install stacked stone tile

I didn't grab any photos of the very beginning, because it was all hands on deck, but we started with the bottom center tile. The reason we started in the center is so each side would have cuts, and one side wouldn't have all of the cuts on the outside. We started on the bottom so the top, which is not nearly as visible as the bottom, would have any cuts.

how to install stacked stone tile
You will see the outside edge is not completely covered, because we are using a border called a pencil.

how to install stacked stone tile in shower

On it went, me selecting the tile, our friend securing the middle tile, Jake measuring and cutting the outside piece with a wet saw, and so on and so forth. The stacked stone is probably a lot trickier than most tiles for many reasons. One, because it is a natural stone, there are many variations in the color and texture. It was important for me to carefully select the location of each piece, so there wasn't too much of one color in one area, and it would all blend nicely. Also, securing it to the wall is more difficult, because it is very heavy, and you have to really press it into the wall well. Or, put your back into it, as Jake said. :) Of course, cutting it is complicated as well, because instead of one big piece, there are 12 tiny pieces on each side, somewhat loosely connected by mesh backing.

how to cut stacked stone tile with wet saw

Here's our friend putting his back into it, or pressing the tile firmly against the wall. It's important to really press each individual stone hard into the thinset, getting a good seal.

install stacked stone tile in shower

Up the wall we went, row by row, applying the thinset smoothly, then notching it, then laying the tile.

stacked stone tile in shower

I should note, just like we always take precautions by taping and covering the floors and the tub, we took precautions by constantly wiping the tile as each new row was laid, to remove any excess thinset that could dry on the tile.

how to apply thinset for stacked stone

This back wall required 3 squares of tile across, and we made sure to check each time with the level, each time a new square of tile was laid.

how to level stacked stone tile

It took some time, and a ton of effort on the guys' part, but here is the one finished wall.

stacked stone tile in shower

The tile is so gorgeous, so textural, and so varied. There were four colorways in the stacked stone tile, a plain bleached white, a single tone beige, a single tone chocolate, and this one. I loved this one immediately for it's variation. The lightness of it as a whole will do wonders for opening up and lightening the bathroom, but it's the fluctuation in the colors that really gets me. It's subtle, but when you look at it, you can see brown markings, copper veining, and beige interweaving. The darker veining will really pull out the copper sink and stained vanity.

stacked stone tile in shower

I'm really thrilled to see this first wall of tile go up, but I'm even more thankful for a great friend like ours. He really stepped in, voluntarily, and took over my place for me. He and Jake are such great friends and worked so perfectly as a team, I kept asking him if he didn't want to just stay a few days with us. :) I couldn't be more grateful for Jake and impressed with his work on all of the reno, but having the touch of two strong men was incredible for this part- that tile is hard to push in! I know for a fact because the next day Jake and I did it alone together- more on that later.
stacked stone tile in shower

For now, I'll leave you with this handsome close-up of the tile, and the sentiment of being thankful for great friends and family.

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