How to Tile a Bathtub

how to tile a bathtub

Tile is a great choice for covering a bathtub because it is easy to clean, resists stains, and comes in a variety of textures and colors. Most homeowners are able to complete the tiling of a bathtub on their own with the proper tools and materials. Follow the steps below to learn how to tile a bathtub.

​How to Tile a Bathtub

​Tiling around your bathtub is no different than any other tile job. One particular thing to pay attention to is that you'll be dealing with an area that has constant moisture. 

As such, don't take any shortcuts when selecting between sheetrock vs drywall as the subwall. Ensure you spend the time sealing the tile properly to keep the moisture out.

Lets dive into our step-by-step guide.

1. Measure the Layout Lines

First, measure the height of the back wall from the edge of the tub to the top of the wall. This will help create your tile layout. Once you have the height, divide that in half, and make a mark at this measurement.

Check to see how many tiles it will take to reach the top of the wall from the tub. If less than a half of a tile is needed at the top or bottom, move the marked line down. You'll need to break out your tile saw to make these cuts.

Once the line is accurate, use a level to make a horizontal line at the mark all around the tub. Repeat the same steps again, but this time measure the width of the back wall and make a mark at the halfway spot, checking that the tiles line up properly.

2. Use a Trowel to Apply Tile Mastic

The next step in learning how to tile a bathtub is to begin spreading a thick layer of tile mastic onto one section of the tub wall, no more than two to three square feet. Tile mastic only has a small window of time before it dries. So, if you apply it to a large area, it will lose its adhesiveness before you finish.

Once you have spread a smooth layer with the trowel, use the notched part of the trowel to create deep ridges in the tile mastic. If you find that the tile mastic, otherwise know as tile mortar, is losing its stickiness, you will have to scrape it from the wall and reapply.

Related: How to Tile Your Staircase

3. Start Laying Tiles

Place the first tile where the two layout lines meet, pressing it firmly into the wall. While applying the first tile, make sure the edges are even with the vertical and horizontal lines.

Continue placing tiles on the wall, alternating placing a tile towards the end wall and a tile down towards the tub. You should only be using full tiles at this point in the tiling process.

Most tiles contain small nubs along the edges to make sure you leave enough space for grouting. If your tiles do not have these nubs, use plastic spacers to ensure you have room for the grout.

ways to tile your bathtub

4. Cut Tiles to Fit

To place tiles in a corner, or up to the ceiling, or at the tub edge, you will probably need to cut the tile to fit. To measure where to cut the tile, place it on the wall where it needs to go. Mark the spot where it overlaps the closest full tile.

Put the tile on the tile cutter with the marking lined up with the cutting wheel. Using slight pressure, push down on the scorer to make a scored line along the length of the tile.

Then, push down on the cutter's handle to cut the tile along the scored line. Once the tiles are cut, lay them in the corner, or along the ceiling or tub. Alternatively, you can use a tile saw for these cuts.

To fit tiles around fixtures, you will need a pair of tile nippers to notch small cuts in the tiles. If the fixtures are in the middle of one tile, drill a hole in the tile using a diamond-grit hole saw.

Continue applying tile mastic and tiles until the entire wall is covered with tiles. For the end walls, use bullnose tiles with a rounded end to finish off the edges.

Related: How to Tile Your Shower

how to tile a bathtub

5. Apply Grout to the Tiles

After allowing the tile mastic to set overnight, mix up your grout. To do this, add a quart of fortified unsanded grout into a large bucket. Mix in enough water and latex additive to create a thick consistency resembling mayonnaise.

Use a rubber trowel to spread the grout along the tile in a diagonal pattern. Make sure the grout penetrates deeply into each space. Continue applying grout in this way until all the tiles are covered.

Allow the grout to set for about 15 minutes, then wipe the tiles clean with a damp rag or sponge. Keep the sponge flat against the wall and rinse it in clean water throughout the cleaning process.

To finish up learning how to tile a bathtub, buff any excess grout off the tile the next day using a dry cloth, and use acrylic caulk that matches your grout to seal off the space between the tile and tub.


Basic tools and the right materials are what you need to tile a bathtub. A trowel, tile nippers, and tile cutters are the tools. Materials include grout, tiles, tile mastic, and caulk. Once you have these things, it is a straightforward process to make your bathtub look like new again.

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