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Master Bathroom Week 5: Installing Shower Shelves (The Cheap Way)

Slowly, slowly the dream shower is coming along.  I realized I forgot to install the shelves in the shower last week, so I had a little set back.  If you remember the shelves when you were tiling the walls, it would be a lot better than my method! 

Anyhow.. I decided I wanted 2 corner shelves, and originally was going to use these prefab ones but with a $50 pricetag, that wasn't happening.  For $100 I knew I could come up with something else.  

First I had to fix my mistake by taking down a couple tiles from the corner where I wanted to place the shelves.  In my case I had to chip out all the old thinset so it was a giant pain in the butt.. You now understand why installing them as you are originally laying the tiles is a much brighter idea. 

Then I went to the big box store and bought two 18x18 inch travertine tiles (for less than $5) and cut them into triangles. Since I removed 1 full and 1 half tile I knew the short side of the triangle needed to be 6 inches (plus 1/8 inch for the spacer)

Using simple geometry I calculated the finished size of my shelves and was able to cut a triangle from the larger tile.

I used a palm sander and 60 grit sandpaper to bullnose the cut edge.  (This will only work on natural stone tile, you couldn't use ceramic tile since the edges wouldn't be finished, nor would you be able to round them over without the porcelain showing through):

Remember when installing the shelves, you want them to slope down so water won't collect on them.  I did this by doubling up my spacers near the corner and only using a single spacer farther down the wall:

I then cut down the tiles that will go above the shelf the thickness of the shelf itself, plus 1/4 inch (taking into account the gap for grout.)  By measuring the triangle and having it end exactly at the end of a full tile, you avoid having to cut any notches:

Not bad for $5 right? And I could have probably only used one 18 inch tile if I had been more careful cutting the triangles.   Totally worth the $98 savings!

As you could see from my first photo, I also completed the rest of the shower walls, including adding pencil tile which was leftover from my kitchen backsplash.  Why not right? I had the tile sitting around, and by using it up in my master shower it unites the first floor and second.

Now I just have the curb, knee wall and floors to tile.. and then onto the bathtub.   Sigh.  At least it is amazing to see how far we have come. 


Budget for this part of the remodel: $4.78
Two 18-inch travertine tiles ($2.39/each)

Renovation total to date: $1020.94
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