How to Tile Around a Tub

Written by kevin mcdermott
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How to Tile Around a Tub
Bathtub (bathroom image by Vonora from

Tiling the walls around your bathtub is one of the more complicated parts of the tiling project because you have to join two completely different materials (wall tile, and the porcelain or fibreglass border of the tub). Generally, you'll want to tile starting at that border and work your way up the wall, so the joint between the wall and the tub is finished and clean. Use self-spacing tiles (they have nubs on the sides) to simplify things. The line between the tiles and the tub is always vulnerable to moisture, so caulk thoroughly.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Self-spacing wall tiles
  • Tile mortar
  • Notched trowel
  • Tile saw
  • Grout
  • Grout float
  • Sponge
  • Caulk gun with silicone caulk
  • Grout sealer
  • Brush

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  1. 1

    Draw a vertical line through the middle of each wall over the tub, from top to bottom, using your level and pencil.

  2. 2

    Spread tile mortar on the wall with your notched trowel, putting the mortar in a horizontal line just above the top rim of the tub. Press tiles in place on either side of the centre line, letting the spacing nubs on the sides of the tiles create a gap between the tiles and the tub. Tile all the way across the length of the tub.

  3. 3

    Build up from the first row, spreading mortar and pressing on tiles, using the centre line to keep the whole pattern straight. Cut the tiles at the ends as necessary with your tile cutter. Repeat the process for each wall over the tub. Let the mortar dry overnight.

  4. 4

    Grout to the wall starting at the top of the tiled area, spreading the grout over the surface with your grout float. Squeeze the edge of the float across the surface, forcing the grout into the lines of the tile while scraping it off the face. Grout everything except the horizontal joint where the bottom row of tiles meets the tub (leave that space open). Wipe up the excess grout with a damp sponge. Let the grout set for a day.

  5. 5

    Use your caulk gun to run a bead of silicone caulk in the open joint between the bottom tiles and the top edge of the tub.

  6. 6

    Let the grout and caulk set for three or four days. Seal the grout, using a small brush to apply grout sealant over the grout lines.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear eye protection when cutting tiles.

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