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How to Tile Around a Bathroom Tub

You can tile around your bathroom and save the money you would've spent on a contractor -- and it's easier than it sounds.


  • Step 1: Set bullnose tiles around the edges of the tiled walls, remove the masking tape from the tiles, and then apply the grout. Mix the grout according to package instructions or use pre-mixed grout. Place the grout on the grout float and spread it diagonally across the tiles, pushing it into the spaces between the tiles.
  • Step 2: Extend your horizontal layout line to the end walls of the enclosure, mark and draw the vertical layout lines, and set the tiles in the same manner as the back wall. Use tile nippers or a diamond-grit hole saw to shape tiles around the bathtub fixtures.
  • Step 3: Wash away excess grout by soaking a large sponge in clean, warm water, wringing out most of the water, and wiping the tiles after the grout has set for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse the sponge in clean water frequently.
  • Step 4: Remove any remaining grout haze the next day with a clean, soft cloth. Then apply caulk between the tub and bottom row of tile. Allow the caulk to dry and then take a shower to get all of the dried mastic off of yourself.
  • FACT: Private bathtubs have been found at the ruins of Pompeii.
  • Step 5: Adhere the top row of tile to the wall with masking tape, and tape each tile to the one above it to hold them in place while the mastic dries. Set tile spacers between the tiles if your tiles aren't self-spacing, and be sure to remove them before you apply grout.
  • TIP: Cut tiles to fit around the sides with a tile saw, tile cutter, or nippers and set the cut edges against the corner or ceiling.
  • Step 6: Measure the width of the back wall, divide the distance in half, and mark the center. Figure the number of tiles needed to go across and, if you have less than half a tile on either end, adjust the mark so that the fractions are equal, and draw a line at the mark.
  • TIP: Determine the number of tiles needed to reach from the mark to the rim of the tub. If you have less than half a tile's length at the bottom, adjust your mark to ensure a whole tile at the bottom.
  • Step 7: Apply a thick layer of mastic with the smooth side of your trowel, starting at the lower right quadrant from where your marking lines intersect. Then go over the area with the notched side of the trowel, raking over the section to make ridges.
  • TIP: Work in 2- to 3-foot-square sections to ensure that the mastic doesn't dry out.
  • Step 8: Set your first tile at the intersection of your layout lines and continue setting tiles outward toward the wall and downward toward the tub in a stepped pattern.
  • Step 9: Measure the back wall from the top of the tub to the top of the area to be tiled, divide the distance in half, and make a pencil mark at the halfway point. Use the level to draw a horizontal line across the wall at the mark.

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