Step 1: Mark the Layout Lines

Mark the layout lines
Photo by: Webb Chappell
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Start by measuring the height of the back wall from the lip of the tub to the top of the area to be tiled. Divide the dimension in half and make a mark there.

Check if you need to adjust this mark to avoid laying slivers of tile at the top and bottom. Calculate how many tiles it takes to reach from the center mark down to the tub. If you end up with less than half a tile at the tub, adjust the mark downward by the height of this partial tile so you end up with a full tile at the bottom and a larger cut tile at the top. Using a level, draw a horizontal line across the wall at this mark.

Next, measure the width of the back wall horizontally. Divide this dimension in half and draw a plumb line down the center of the wall. If this leaves tile slivers on both sides, adjust the line right or left as necessary.

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    Tools List

    • notched trowel
      Notched trowel,
      used to apply tile mastic
    • grout sponge
      Grout sponge,
      for wiping tiles clean
    • rubber trowel
      Rubber trowel,
      for applying the grout
    • drill
      Drill with diamond-grit hole saw,
      for drilling holes in tile
    • tile nippers
      Tile nippers,
      used to notch tiles to fit around plumbing
    • margin trowel
      Margin trowel,
      used to mix mortar and grout
    • tile cutter
      Tile cutter,
      rents for $15 to $20 a day
    • two-foot level
      Level and straightedge
    • drywall knife
      4-in. drywall knife,
      to embed joint tape in mortar
    • caulk gun
      Caulking gun with siliconized acrylic caulk

    Shopping List

    1. GLAZED CERAMIC TILE

    2. LATEX TILE MASTIC

    3. UNSANDED TILE GROUT

    4. CEMENT BACKER BOARD

    5. BACKER BOARD SCREWS

    6. FIBERGLASS-MESH JOINT TAPE

    7. THINSET MORTAR

    for skim-coating the backer board



    8. LATEX-BASED GROUT ADDITIVE

    to strengthen the grout