Do-It-Yourself Bathtub Wall Tiling Steps

Tiling around a bathtub is a great idea – it’s water-resistant, easy to clean, and barely ever stains. If you’re considering tiling around your bathtub, follow these bathtub wall tiling steps to create a new, fresh look for your bathroom!

Part 1: The Layout

    1) First, measure the height of the back tub wall. This should span the area between the tub lip to the top of the area that will be tiled. Divide by two and make a small mark on the wall at this location.

    2) Double check how the tiles will lay according to your measurements – this will help you avoid laying thin slivers of tile at either the top or bottom. Adjust your measurements accordingly, allowing you to have a full tile at the bottom and at least half or more of a tile at the top.

    3) Draw a line across the wall here – use a level for a straight horizontal line.

    4) Measure the width of the back tub wall. Determine the middle of this width, then repeat step #2 and make adjustments to your ‘middle’ line as necessary.

Part 2: Start the Mastic

    5) Beginning at where the vertical and horizontal lines meet, trowel a thick layer of mastic onto one square or ‘quadrant’ of the back wall. Use the smooth edge of the trowel, and only apply it to around 2 or 3 feet. Any more than this, and you’ll run out of time as the mastic tends to have a drying time of about 20 minutes.

    6) Using the notched end of the trowel, make a series of ridges in the mastic. It should look like you’ve been ‘raking’ through it.

Part 3: Start Tiling

    7) Again, begin tiling at the place where your layout lines meet, and press the tile down firmly to the wall. Double check that the edges are flush along both the lines you measured earlier. Do this both ways along the lines, working out and downward as you go. Applying the tiles in a stepped pattern will help you to keep the tiles laid straight.

    8) If your tiles don’t have nubs on the end to ensure enough space is left for grout later on, use a plastic spacer when laying the tiles. This will keep the joint spaces consistent, and leave the right amount of space for grout. Also, there needs to be space between the tub and the bottom tile for caulking.

    9) At the end of each wall, place rounded-edged tiles – these will be even more effective at keeping moisture out when combined with caulking along the top. Finally, let the entire thing sit for about 16-24 hours.

Part 4: Applying Grout

    10) Mix your grout, and make sure it has a pudding-like consistency. If it’s too thick, it won’t enter the cracks correctly, and if it’s too thin, it’ll just run off the wall.

    11) Using a rubber trowel, apply the grout in a diagonal motion across the tile surface, ensuring it gets into all the joint spaces. You can apply all the grout at once, so it’s a good idea to wait until all the initial tiling is done before embarking on this stage of the project.

    12) Allow the grout to sit for a half hour, then clean the tiles with a damp sponge. Hold the sponge perpendicular to the wall, and move it slowly down to remove excess grout and clean the surface. Rinse the sponge after every swipe or two, in order to keep it clean.

    13) Let the grout sit overnight, and then buff the tiled wall with a clean and dry cloth – this will take off any remaining excess or haze caused by the grout, which wasn’t removed by the sponge.

Part 5: Sealing Your Wall Tiles

    14) Using a caulk that’s the same color as your grout, fill in the space between the top of your tub and the bottom row of tiling. If there are any other areas that need caulking, do this now.

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