How to Finish Ceramic Tile Along a Bathtub

Ceramic tile walls around a bathtub are typically installed from the center of the wall up and then from the center of the wall down. The tiles are also set from the center of the wall out to the left and right horizontally. This means that the tiles were pre-measured and pre-fitted so that the bottom row of tile along the top edge of the bathtub are a whole tile, except at the right and left corners. These two corners should have equally sized partial tiles. Finishing the tiling is easy.

  1. Tape along the bathtub close to the tile. Drape plastic sheeting over the tub. It is sometimes a good idea to also tape off adjacent walls and ceilings with plastic sheeting too since the grout process is messy.
  2. Scrape off any thinset from the tiles using a utility knife (gently). Scrape between the tiles if there are thinset clumps, you want the grout to fill these areas and to look consistent.
  3. Mix grout with water to the consistency of thick but smooth mud. Use a bucket to hold the grout. Apply the grout using a grout float. Smear the grout across the tiles in a diagonal fashion to spread the grout evenly. Do not leave any gaps between the tiles. Scrape the excess grout off with the edge of the float.
  4. Dry the grout until you can no longer press your thumbnail into the grout (check after fifteen minutes). Clean the grout off the tiles by using a sponge. Wipe the wet sponge diagonally across the tiles. Rinse the sponge often. Repeat this process until the tiles are as glossy and clean as glass.
  5. Caulk along the edges of the tile using a bath and tub caulk. Spread a bead evenly between the tile and the tub and the tile and the walls. Use a moist finger to smooth the caulk out. Clean up any excess as you go.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Utility knife
  • Grout
  • Bucket
  • Grout float
  • Sponge
  • Water
  • Bath and tub caulk


  • Check the manufacturers recommendation for the best time to clean the grout. Some grouts set up more quickly than others. For textured tile be sure to pre-clean any residual grout off the centers of the tile early as these may be more difficult to clean later. Do not wait to remove the final grout haze as grout can harden on the tile quickly.


  • Cement products such as thinset and grout irritate the skin. Wear protective gloves for prolonged exposure.


About the Author

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.