How to Tile a Tub

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Vapor barrier sheet
Tile spacers
Cement board backer

If you’ve been remodeling your bathroom or are working on a new home, you will need to tile the tub. In fact, tiling the bathtub is an essential addition to the home. It is a fairly straight forward job, especially if you have some experience in tiling. Even if you’ve never tiled before, follow these steps to complete the job.

Step 1 - Strip the Area

If you are redoing the tub, remember that the first thing to any installation job is to strip it bare. A bathtub tiling job is no different. Begin by stripping the tub of its fixtures. Remove the faucets, shower stall, studs, and other fixtures. If this is a fresh installation, place the tub into position and proceed with the next step.

Step 2 - Install the Vapor Barrier

The project begins with the installation of a vapor barrier. A vapor barrier is a sheet that is specifically designed to keep water vapor and moisture from causing damage. Vapor barriers are available at every home improvement store and come in a variety of styles. Choose one that suits your needs.

Step 3 - Place the Bottom Tiles

Use a trowel to apply mortar along the bottom wall to within several feet of the bathtub opening. Then place the bottom tiles of your choice along the tub rim. Press them into the mortar so that they are securely held in place. Use tile spacers to make your work neat and uniform. Allow the tiles to dry.

Step 4 - Use a Cement Board Backer

This is the trickiest step. While tiling the tub, you need to plan for the areas where the shower knobs, head, and faucets will go. It isn’t as simple as tiling the rest of the tub. First cut a cement board backer to the required size and fit it in place. Then mark the openings for the shower knob, head, and other fixtures. Saw them out.

Step 5 - Continue Tiling

Once you saw the holes, it’s time to add the tiles to the board. First spread the mortar on the board. Then set the tiles 1 at a time. Patience is the key to perfection here; it is the only way you’ll get an even row. Once you complete the bottom row, leave the tiles to set in for at least 24 hours, after which you repeat the process one more time.

Step 6 - Grout the Tiles

Once all the tiles are in place, you will need to grout them along the tile joints. Do so for the whole tub, except the area between the bottom tile row and the tub rim. Let the grout sit overnight. The next day, caulk the area between the bottom tile row and tub rim space. Use sealant to seal the tiles.