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Old 03-14-2014, 08:53 AM   #1
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Tiling a tub alcove


We're gearing up to sell our house in a year or so and have many projects to complete and for budget reasons I want to do as much DIY as possible. Our realtor has said we definitely need to spruce up the bathrooms, and he's right - they're terrible. The tub surround needs removed and I want to tile it. It's an old house and the tub alcove is smaller than standard, so a stock surround can't just be bought.

I'm convinced we can tile these walls ourselves. My husband is not as confident in our abilities. Do any of you know of a really good DIY video that I could show him? Youtube is letting me down, as there are as many ways to do this as there are tile guys apparently. Also, a few questions:

As I see it, the steps are:

1. remove old surround.

2. replace backer board if necessary. What particular type do you recommend that I can buy at Lowes, Menards, one of the box stores?

3. waterproof - I've seen two or three different methods on-line. I've seen people put down roofing tarpaper under the backer board and I've seen people use some type of water proofing just over the seams. One video I saw used Red Guard over everything - they didn't even tape the joints. What do you think is best?

4. Tile - I suspect our tub will not be level. It's 40-year-old enamaled cast iron so I know I'll have to adjust the cuts on the bottom row to make it fit and to start with the second row...although Home Depot's video actually starts in the center and does it in quarters...it appears that's a matter of preference. The only thing I've tiled so far is a kitchen backspash, but I think we can do this.

5. Grout, seal, etc.

Am I missing any important steps?

THANKS!
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Old 03-14-2014, 09:41 AM   #2
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I think if you're tiled a backsplash, you can tile a tub surround - only real difference (besides waterproofing) is the size of the job. I'm not a pro, but have done several tiling jobs. Here's my suggestions:

1. I always use Durock cement board as the backer. I've tried the "other" brand and just don't care for it. I don't like the ragged edge Durock has when scored and snapped so I cut it with an angle grinder and masonry blade (messy - do it outside). Attach with galvanized roofing nails. Seal the seams with fiberglass mesh tape and thinset.

2. For waterproofing, I like RedGard. Expensive, but simple to use. Two coats, one perpendicular to the other.

3. I would never start in the center of a wall. You might end up with a thin sliver of tile at one or both ends. And, unlike my wife the only time I've ever let her tile, don't start at both ends and work toward the middle!

4. I prefer to mix my own thinset (corded drill, paddle mixer, in a 5-gallon bucket). For small jobs, premixed is OK but quite expensive. For wet applications, do NOT use mastic.

5. When grouting, don't do the inside corners (they will eventually crack). Grout manufacturers usually have caulk to match their colors.

I'm sure the pros will chime in with more suggestions. Good luck.

Last edited by md2lgyk; 03-14-2014 at 09:43 AM.
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Old 03-14-2014, 09:59 AM   #3
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The center of the wall thing seemed odd to me - literally the Home Depot video has them drawing lines on the wall and dividing it into quarters. I assume you'd do some serious measuring to make sure they're going to fit or that you'll need 2/3 of a tile on each end or something. I think that if I'm going to need to cut off less than 1/4 of a tile to make it fit, I'll just go wall to wall. Boy I hope my walls are plumb. I'll have to check that too.
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