How to Repair a Leaking Shower Without Removing Tiles

Shower Tiles

Stuck trying to figure out how to fix a leaking shower without removing tiles?

Don’t worry, this is a common issue. Not only can a leaking shower be frustrating, but it can also lead to costly repairs.

Luckily, with the help of this article, you’ll be able to solve the problem without having to tip out all your tiles.

To fix a leaking shower without removing tiles, you’ll need to remove the old grout, clean between the tiles, and regrout and replace the damaged tiles. Then, clean the surface, seal with silicone, and apply two coats of waterproofing.

Note that we are specifically looking at repairing a leak caused by grout. Before starting on this repair, you should confirm that the leak isn’t due to loose tiles, or a supply pipe behind the wall leaking.

Read on to learn more about these steps!

How to Repair a Leaking Shower Without Removing Tiles

A leaking shower is the start of a domino effect, as it can create other problems such as stained ceilings, peeling paint, dampness, and black mold.

This can pose a threat to your health, especially if you have any respiratory problems or allergies. Not to mention that it can also cause an infestation of white ants!

So, this issue needs to be solved as soon as possible. I know that doing this can be pricey, this is why I’ve created a list of 6 steps you can follow to fix a leaking shower without having to remove the tiles.

#1  Remove the Old Grout

The first step to repairing your shower is to remove the old grout and any moldy or deteriorated sealants.

Dirty Grout Tiles
Ensure to remove all the grout as it may have spread underneath the surface

To get the shower looking as professional as possible, you should remove all the grout. Don’t just concentrate on the deteriorated areas. This is because the old grout may be beginning to leak under the surface, although it doesn’t look bad.

To do this, you’ll need:

  • Safety glasses
  • Rotary tool
  • A tough, dull blade
  • Flathead screwdriver or another grout-removing tool

Once you’ve gathered all the materials, please follow these instructions:

  1. Put the safety glasses on.
  2. Turn the rotary tool on and run the blade up and down the grout. Use a steady hand and don’t press too hard. Try to keep the tool away from the edges of your tile.
  3. Use a flathead screwdriver or other tool like a Grout Removal Kit to remove any stubborn grout pieces. You can also do the same with a tough, dull blade to free stubborn bits of grout.

#2   Clean Between the Tiles

After you have freed up the grout from the tiles, you’ll need to clean between them. To do it, you’ll need these tools:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Hand broom and dustpan

Once you have all the tools, please follow these steps:

  1. Sweep up large pieces of grout with a hand broom and dustpan.
  2. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the smaller pieces of grout and dust from between the tiles.

#3   Regrout and Replace Damaged Tiles

After you have finished removing the grout and cleaning the tiles, you will need to apply new grout.

You should take advantage of the opportunity to remove any damaged tiles from the walls and floor as needed. This isn’t a “MUST”, but anything obviously damaged is always worth a quick replacement.

Bear in mind that you should wait a few days between removing the old grout and applying the new. This will give the shower wall time to dry and will also help to kill off any mold and mildew in the wall.

Applying new Grout
Ensure the shower wall is dry before applying new grout to prevent growth of mildew and mold. Otherwise, the grout won’t adhere and set properly.

The reason you need to make sure your wall is dry is that grout adheres to the wall by the water in the grout being absorbed by the wall. If the wall is wet, the water in the grout will not be absorbed, and the dry grout just sits in the groove without actually being attached to the wall.

Regrouting tiles, sounds complicated. But don’t worry, this is one of the most fun steps in the process. Take a look at the mini guide below that will help:

The tools you will need

  • Safety gloves
  • Pre-mixed grout
  • Grout spreader (rubber tile float)
  • Grout shaper
  • Sponge

Once you’ve gathered the material, please follow these simple steps:

  1. Put the safety gloves on.
  2. Spread some grout across the grout spreader. Pass the spreader along the groove between the tiles. Pass it with long strokes, these will help to work the grout into the grooves.
  3. Remove any grout that spreads onto the tiles with a damp sponge.
  4. Once the grout has hardened slightly, pass a grout shaper across it. It should be passed in one smooth movement.
  5. Fill in any gaps that appear with a little more grout and wipe the excess away with a damp sponge.
  6. Repeat these steps on all the tiles.

#4   Clear Away Waste Materials

Once you have regrouted the tiles, wait for them to dry completely. Then, clean the surface with warm water.

To do it, please grab a bucket filled with warm water and a sponge. Then, you’ll need to:

  1. Wash the shower with warm water and a sponge. Pass the sponge over the tiles in circular motions to remove debris and waste materials.
  2. Allow the bathroom to dry completely before continuing. Open the window or run the exhaust fan to help speed up the process.

#5  Seal the Shower With Grout Sealer

Once the shower is dry, seal the joints with grout sealer.

The materials you’ll need are a grout sealer and masking tape.

You see, the tape can help you keep a steady hand. You’ll just need to place two lines of masking tape around where the sealer should sit, one above the groove and one below. That way, if you go outside the line, it won’t matter.

Here’s how to seal the joints:

  1. Apply the masking tape above and below the groove. (Optional).
  2. Start at the edge. In one clean sweep, squeeze the sealer across the groove.
  3. Ensure that there are no air gaps by pressing your finger down across the length of the silicone.
  4. Apply a second layer of sealer on top of the first in one smooth motion.
  5. Wet your finger with a wipe. Gently run your finger across the grout sealer to create a smooth finish, or use a caulk shaping tool if you have one.
  6. Repeat these steps around all the joints.

#6   Apply Two Coats of Clear Waterproofing

We’ve made it! This is the last step and, of course, the most important one. This step will ensure the effective waterproofing of your shower.

Once you have finished applying silicone to the joints, clean the shower. Allow it to try thoroughly before moving on to this step.

Once the shower is dry, apply two coats of clear waterproofing. By doing this, your shower should stay stain-free for up to 10 years!

Note: This step doesn’t apply to ceramic or porcelain tiles, as they have a baked on finish that will not absorb any form of waterproofing. Waterproofing of shower bathroom tiles applies to natural materials, like slate, terra cotta, and sandstone, as these are porous and will absorb moisture.

This is an important step. So I’ve laid out all the details you need to follow the project through successfully. Take a look at them below:

The tools you will need

  • Safety gloves
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint roller
  • Clear waterproofing sealant

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary material, you’ll need to:

  1. Put the safety gloves on.
  2. Dip the paintbrush into the clear waterproofing sealant. Apply the sealant to the walls and floor of the shower as you would apply paint to walls.
  3. Wait for the layer to dry.
  4. Once dry, apply the sealant to the roller. Run the roller over the tiles of the floor and walls. Apply the sealant carefully as you would apply paint to a wall with a roller.

Can You Waterproof Over Old Tiles?

Now you may be wondering, is there any way to skip the regrouting process? Can you simply apply a clear waterproofing sealant over old tiles?

Yes, you can. But it depends on the status of your tiles. If you have a brand-new bathroom, for example, then there will be no need for you to regrout. Simply pass the waterproofing sealant over the existing tiles.

But unfortunately, we don’t all have swanky new bathrooms. And the chances are that if you’re reading this article, it’s because you have a problem with your bathroom tiles. How can you know whether it will be worth it for you to waterproof over your existing tiles? For it to be effective, your old tiles will have to be in excellent condition. This means:

  • The tiles should be firmly attached to the substrate.
  • The tiles should not be cracked or chipped.
  • The tiles should not be hollow sounding.


A leaking shower unit can be a real pain. If left unattended, it could force you to have to repaint your ceiling, or even redo some of your flooring. But thankfully, you can catch it early. It is also possible to fix a shower without removing the tiles. I am sure that this article has shown you the best method for you to do so.

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Have a great day!


Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more