You have a wide variety of tile options to choose from that can be installed onto the top layer of your shower floor in your built up shower pan. You should choose the design that best fits the overall style you intend to achieve, but your choice should also take into consideration how it effects the waterproofing strategy of your built up shower pan.
There has been a large amount of modernization in the manufacturing process of the different types of tile. Ceramics, for instance, are manufactured using natural clay and using varying heating techniques, the final product typically will have a less dense tile body. Porcelains consist of a more specific clay that is heated to a much higher temperature that creates a much more denser tile body. Each has a permeable factor for water absorption, while some porcelain tile products might be better at allowing less absorption.
There is an elegance and beauty to a natural stone tile installation which provides a perfect finishing touch. Travertine, which is a limestone, and marble, which is well know for its durability, both are very porous natural stones. When these types of natural stones are used within a shower area, more specifically on the shower floor, a sealer needs to be applied after the installation and before the grout is installed and then reapplied according to the recommended maintenance periods for each stone type and per the sealer manufacturer specifications.
Depending upon your tile type choice, you may be able to choose from a rectified and non-rectified tile piece. A rectified tile has a machined edge on all sides to ensure that the entire body has a uniform size that can be better aligned with an adjoining piece. If you choose a tile installation that consists of higher end pieces, a rectified finish may be something that is of interest to you. An added consideration is the width of grout joints, the industry standard is a minimum of 1/8 of an inch to ensure that a suitable amount of grout can enter in between each tile. From a design perspective, some opt for a 1/16 of an inch width, but run the risk of not allowing enough grout in between each joint.
The tile installation for your shower floor should take into consideration the proper size for your overall vision, but also, don’t forget that less grout lines with sufficient widths will help in limiting moisture reaching below to each layer. A smaller set of tile pieces, such as 1 inch x1 inch or 2 inches x 2 inches, will allow for a better grip with your feet during normal shower usage. A larger set of tile pieces, may not allow for safe travel within the shower area.
The thickness of your choice of tile is very important, given that it will be stepped into and out of repeatedly during normal shower usage. You will not have a choice of thickness upon making your tile choice, but the typical tile pieces will be either 3/4 or 1/2 inches thick.
It has become much more common to have a tile installation over the shower floor completed using a mesh backed grouping of pieces. The tile pieces are glued to a fiber mesh in a 1 inch x 1 inch or 2 inches x 2 inches configuration, with varying design types and styles, from porcelain to natural stone. Installation is as easy as placing each mesh grouping over the top layer and cutting to size any pieces that are needed to complete the shower floor installation.