Shower Wall Tiles

Why Do Shower Wall Tiles Crack?

In Home Maintenance by Giovanni ValleLeave a Comment

Have you been wondering why your shower wall tiles crack? Yesterday they were in perfect condition, so what caused the cracking today? Having cracked tiles on your shower walls can be an unsightly and annoying experience.

Shower wall tile cracks can be caused by either the inferior quality of the tile used or – in most cases – the instability of the surface underneath the tile, usually caused by improper fixing, bad adhesive, water damage, and more.

There are a couple of options to explore when it comes to fixing cracks, ranging from changing out the tiles to painting over the filler with a suitable color that matches the rest of the tiles.

Why Do Shower Tiles Crack?

Your shower wall tiles might have cracked due to one of the following reasons outlined below:

  • Not Properly Fixed – An improper fixing method is one of the main reasons why shower wall tiles crack. While installing the tiles, it is crucial the tiles are placed properly. Dimension, arrangement, and other necessary elements will need to be considered as tile is installed. Otherwise, there is a high probability that the tiles will crack after a few weeks or months after placement.
  • Low-Quality Tiles – The type and quality of tiles used for your bathroom wall are significant. Good quality tiles, when used, will function well and last even longer than expected while low-quality tiles will lead to many problems, which include major cracking after some weeks or months.
  • Sharp Blow on Tiles – Heavy pressure on any tile surface could result in cracking, and this is no different when it comes to shower wall tiles. If one applies sharp blows or heavy pressure on the shower wall tiles while cleaning or working on the tile with any object or in any form, it will result in cracking.
  • Wrong Type of Adhesive Used – When the wrong type of adhesive is used while installing the tiles, it could lead to the tiles not sticking to the shower walls correctly. Because there is not a strong adhesive that can hold it steady in place, a tile will become more prone to large cracks.
  • Water Lodged Behind the Shower Wall – In some cases water could seep behind your shower wall, causing it to swell and therefore creating cracks on the tiles.
  • Bigger Spaces Between Floor Joists – Joists simply refer to the massive beams underneath your subfloor that anchor everything placed on top of it. If the spaces between the joists are too far apart, it will leave room for the plywood to flex. When there is a flexing surface under the top layer, it creates a gap, and this eventually leads instability and later cracking of the tile.

Why is Cracking a Problem?

It’s important to act fast once you notice cracks on your shower wall, as this will protect your tiles and shower from further damage. Here are some reasons why cracking can quickly become a problem:

  1. Shower wall tile cracks can create openings that lead to water leaks, which could lead to different types of damage to your shower.
  2. Those same water leaks can cause structural damage, which can be difficult to identify behind the tiles; repairing this damage can also be costly.
  3. Tile cracks of any kind might be a sign of foundation trouble, and so it should be taken seriously.
  4. Molds and other harmful organisms can grow within the broken tile once water has seeped in.

How Do You Fix Shower Tile Cracks?

Once you have noticed a crack/cracks in the shower wall tiles, the best thing to do is to act immediately. You can take action by fixing it yourself or hiring an expert to do it for you.

Fixing it Yourself

If it is a hairline crack, you might want to repair the affected area instead of replacing the tile(s) completely. To do this:

  1. Begin by cleaning the affected area. The affected area should only be cleaned with diluted sodium percarbonate (oxygen bleach powder). This solution should also be applied to the grout as well. This will remove any dirt, dust, or fine tile particles on the surface.
  2. A few minutes after completing the first procedure, the next step is to scrub the grout lightly.
  3. Then, apply some glue on the affected area. It is vital that you use a high-quality glue. You should make sure you keep applying the glue on the surface until the tile is properly balanced.
  4. Use a paintbrush or a cotton swab to smooth over the affected surfaces. Follow the adhesive manufacturer’s recommendation for the proper drying period. However, when in doubt, wait 72 hours.
  5. Immediately after the glue dries, apply a good coating substance – with urethane – on the area to avoid dirt from sticking to the paint; this ensures it stays in good condition and is durable.
  6. Once you are through, and both the glue and protective coat have dried, use a damp cloth to wipe the surface clean.

How to Fix Larger Cracks in Shower Tiles

If you notice large or multiple cracks on a single tile, the best thing to do is to replace the tile or tiles completely. You can achieve this using the following steps:

  1. Remove the tile from the wall: to do this, first, get a rag and place it on the surface of the tile.
  2. Use a hammer to hit the tile: the rag placed on the tile will prevent tiny pieces of tiles from flying around. Make sure that you wear some form of protective goggles while doing this.
  3. Use a chisel to chisel out the remaining part of the tile. Use the same chisel to remove the old adhesive underneath. 
  4. Spread some adhesive at the back of the new tile using a notched trowel. Carefully place the new tile on the vacant position and allow it to dry. Use fresh grout to fill all the spaces around the new tile. Once the grout has also dried, use a moist cloth to clean the surface.

Note: If you decide to remove and replace the affected tile entirely by yourself, you should consider following the guidelines from this WikiHow’s article.

Hiring an Expert

If you can’t fix it yourself, then you should consider hiring an expert. You might incur additional costs, but it saves time, energy and also guarantees quality fixing of the shower tiles. When hiring an expert, you should look for one who is properly certified and has good experience with repairing shower wall tiles.

How to Prevent Shower Tile Cracking

Prevention, they say, is better than a cure. You can prevent future cracks on your shower wall tiles before and after installation by following the guidelines below:

  1. High-quality tiles should be bought and used for the shower walls.
  2. The tiles should be installed with the correct materials.
  3. While installing the tiles, it is recommended that a membrane be used in-between the shower wall and tiles. This membrane can be adequately fixed using the right adhesive and other materials by an expert.
  4. Make sure the right adhesive is used during installation. In most cases, a mastic type of adhesive is used instead of a thin set, which can lead to the tiles not adhering properly to the shower wall.
  5. Get an expert to help do the job to save you from future costs. This is highly recommended.


Because we all like our bathroom to look attractive and safe to use, it is pertinent to take good care of every part of it. The shower wall tiles are no exception. Once you notice any defects, you should take the necessary steps to resolve it to prevent it from developing future complications.


How to repair a shower wall tile –

How to replace broken shower tiles –

Causes of cracked tile — Gharpedia

What’s behind damage tiles — Baltimoresun

How to quickly repair bathroom shower — Wikihow

Share this Post

Leave a Comment