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neato 10-24-2013 12:42 PM

Tiling Bathtub Surround - Tiles of varying thicknesses

This is my first post of many I'm sure. Thanks for your help.

I'm getting ready to remove an old one-piece shower/tub unit that has cracked and is leaking. I'm going to put in an enameled steel tub and tile the surrounding walls.

The tile we've tentatively chosen is a 12" x 12" ceramic. We would also like to include a travertine mosaic band about eye level to add some interest to the design.

The issue is that the travertine mosaic band is thicker than the tile itself. Will this cause a problem when I go to grout it? Should I instead find something that will be the same thickness, albeit to the disappointment of my wife?



cleveman 10-24-2013 08:37 PM

Congratulations on taking on such a task. I'm hoping that you have done your research regarding framing the surround and the tilebacker and waterproofing details.

The first question that comes to mind is how far off is the accent tile? Are we talking a 1/16th or a 1/4"?

First of all, you could install the field tile with a 3/8" trowel and go to a 1/4" trowel for the thicker stuff. You could also burn the backs of the field tile/burn the tilebacker.

Secondly, as you know, you could find some thinner accent.

Thirdly, you could find some thicker field tile.

Lastly, you could not worry about a small difference in thickness.

neato 10-25-2013 06:33 AM

Great response, thanks Cleveman.

So really, there's no rules, just preference. I'm not sure I've ever seen a decorative band that wasn't flush, but then again, why follow the norm? :D

My main concern with starting projects like this is doing it RIGHT! I don't want to have to redo this in 2 years because something is failing. So yes, I've done my homework on the correct backer board to use and how to waterproof it to the max.

Now I just have to get my courage up to tear out the shower/tub in the only bathroom in our house and just go for it!

cleveman 10-25-2013 07:18 AM

You may want to set up a temp shower in the basement before you start. Depending on your other responsibilities, you might not have a shower for a month. This temp shower could be as simple as a wood platform over a floor drain with a curtain around it and a hand-held wand attached to a laundry sink faucet.

Or maybe the health club/ymca?

neato 10-25-2013 07:25 AM

Funny you should mention that...

Was just setting up the basement to do just that. Although, my goal is to get the old shower out and the new tub installed and connected to the plumbing in a couple days. That way it's available for limited baths.

wkearney99 10-25-2013 07:48 PM

Heh, a month... I had a bath that took longer than that. Like and budgets don't always afford enough time and money to get things done "on schedule".

My suggestion would be to consider a different mosaic or tiles that have more compatible thicknesses. There's lot of choices out there. If you're not used to laying mosaic it can be tricky. When I did mine I gained much more respect for the craftsmanship of ancient fresco artisans.

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