The information in this guide was provided by Touchstone Builders.
The walls around your bathtub are collectively called the “surround,” and they’re going to get more moisture exposure than most walls in the home. This is why tub surrounds are usually covered with moisture-proof material. Tiling the walls around your tub is the classic approach, and still arguably the best, in terms of attractiveness and wall protection.
Things you’ll need:
A tape measure, a pencil, tile spacers, thin set mortar, a notched trowel, a tile saw, grout, grout float, a sponge, and caulk.
Draw a vertical line through the middle of one wall behind the tub, using a pencil. Spread thin set mortar over the bottom section of the wall, using a notched trowel. Make the mortar come up about two feet from the top of the tub, measuring with a tape measure.
Hang the first row of tiles along the top of the tub, starting at the centre line that you drew and working your way out sideways toward the edges. Put tile spacers between the tiles as you hang them, and below them, to separate them from the tub. Cut the tiles at the ends of the wall as needed, using a tile saw.
Hang the next rows of tiles, building up the wall row by row, starting each row at the middle line and working outward. Spread more mortar on the upper parts of the wall as you build up. Tile the entire wall, using a tile saw to cut around plumbing fixtures as needed. Repeat for each of the walls around the tub. Let the tiles set for a day and remove the spacers.
Apply grout to the walls with a grout float, starting at the top areas and working down. Press the grout into the spaces between the tiles, while squeezing it off the tile surface. Wipe up the excess grout with a damp sponge. Grout everything except the space between the bottom row of tiles and the top edge of the tub. Let the grout set for a day.
Caulk the line between the top of the tub and the bottom of the first row of tiles.