How Much Space Do You Need Between Shower Tiles

Tile Herringbone Shower Plumbing Wall

Getting Started

We get this question a lot:

How much space do you need between shower tiles?

It’s a very important concept and some people get it wrong.

This leads to cracked tiles, loose grout, and more.


Minimum Grout Joint Width

Grout joint width depends on the type of tile.

For example, ceramic and natural stone have a minimum required joint width of 1/16″.

Without this 1/16″ spacing, ceramic and natural stone won’t have the proper expansion and contraction joint.

Homes and buildings move, thermal expansion happens and even certain tiles expand or contract with seasons.

Also, keep in mind that porcelain tile is a form of ceramic tile. Porcelain tiles have a water absorption of 0.5% or less, which also classifies them as impervious.

Because porcelain tile has low water absorption, the Tile Council of North America recommends using bonding materials specifically for porcelain.

Due to this low water absorption we do go as low as 1/32″ for porcelain tile grout joints. That said, it’s important to know the minimum recommendation is typically 1/16″.


Grout Joint Width for Corner Tile

Shower tiles should have a 1/8″ joint between their edge and backer boards or adjacent tiles.

For example, if tile is being set on the main shower wall, then leave a 1/8″ expansion joint between the tile edge and adjacent backer board.

By the way, we highly recommend tiling the main shower wall then the side walls. This makes the corner joint less noticeable and more aesthetically pleasing.

In addition, leave a 1/16″ to 1/8″ expansion joint between the main wall tile and shower floor tile or adjacent wall tile. This joint should then be filled with 100% silicone to allow for expansion and contraction as well as providing a waterproof layer.


Hopefully these tips help you with your project.

Remember that our Bathroom Repair Tutor Video Library has many examples of how to properly set tile on shower walls and floors.

We show how to build showers (Schluter, Wedi, Curbless, etc.), install tile, upgrade basement bathrooms, and more.

If you have trouble finding a specific tutorial let me know.

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Jeff Patterson