How Do I Install Tile Around My Tub?
Ceramic tile can be easily applied on most sound and smooth surfaces, such as plywood, plaster, gypsum wall board, Wonderboard (glass fiber reinforced concrete construction panel) or concrete. Ceramic tile may also be applied over an existing tile surface providing it is clean and sound. All surfaces must be completely dry and free of all dust and dirt. Oil-based painted surfaces must be scratched or sanded. Latex paints should be removed completely. New plaster must be fully cured. In excessively damp areas, apply a thin waterproofing adhesive with the flat side of a trowel and allow it to dry overnight (not necessary when using Wonderboard or similar products). In very damp areas, we strongly recommend the use of Wonderboard (or similar product) as a backing material.
If the bathtub is level (within 3/16" on all three sides), measure up one full tile (or sheet) plus 1/8" (grout joint) from the lowest point and make a level line all around the tub. Draw a plumb line in the centre of the back wall, from the ceiling to tub, that intersects the level line. If you want to reduce cutting in corners and eliminate cuts smaller than one half tile, you should adjust your plumb line by mapping your tiles and allowing for grout joints. Repeat this procedure on end walls. A batten may be used to assist in placing your first row of tiles.
Apply your adhesive with a 3/16" v-notched trowel. Hold the trowel at a 45 degree angle when spreading the adhesive. DO NOT spread more adhesive than you can cover in 30 minutes (approximately 20 square feet). Read the label on the can of adhesive for detailed directions.
Apply tile to the adhesive within 30 minutes and press firmly into place, using a slight twisting motion. Start at the plumb line in the centre of the back wall—on top of your level line—and work towards the closest end wall. Place the bottom row on last and make cuts where necessary. The plumb line reference should keep your tiles squarely aligned. Once you have completed the back wall, repeat the procedure on end walls. At this point, you may also install your soap dish.
When the tile is firmly set (wait approximately 24 hours), you can apply a mixture of grout to the joints using a grouting float and working diagonally across the tiles. Make sure to use rubber gloves throughout this procedure. Now, using a sponge, wipe the tile diagonally in order to smooth down joints to the desired depth. A thin film will form over the tiles. After 50-60 minutes of drying, the tiles can be polished with a clean, soft cloth. To make your tub completely waterproof and allow for the contraction and expansion of the tub, a silicone rubber bathtub caulk should be applied where the tile meets the tub.
After the grout has partially cured for at least 72 hours, apply a grout sealer. This will keep the joints clean and stain resistant.