How to Build Tile Bathtubs

Installing tile for a tub surround is one of the key steps in building a tile bathtub. You install tiles on the walls around the tub instead of using a plastic surround. The bathtub frame can also be tiled to make the entire enclosure look like one tiled surface. The first step in building a tile bathtub is measuring to determine how much tile you'll need.

Surround your bathtub with tile for an elegant look.
  1. Measure the width and height of the walls for the tub surround with the tape measure. Transfer the measurements to the waterproof membrane and cut it to the correct size with the utility knife. Leave a 4-inch overlap if multiple pieces are cut.

  2. Place the waterproof membrane on the walls and secure it with the staple gun.

  3. Transfer the measurements to the reinforcing wire. Cut the wire to the required size with the tin snips.

  4. Place the reinforcing wire on the walls. Leave at least a 2-inch overlap where multiple sections of wire overlap. Secure the wire to the wall temporarily with the staple gun.

  5. Run a stud finder across the wall to locate the studs. Drive galvanized nails into the studs with the nail gun to secure the wire mesh to the wall.

  6. Mix the mortar and water in a bucket to the consistency of peanut butter.

  7. Apply the mortar over the wire mesh on the wall with the trowel. Set the first tile in place. Repeat this step and set the second tile in place. Insert a tile spacer between the tiles. Repeat this step to install the tile for the tub surround.

  8. Apply mortar to the tub frame, if applicable. Set the tiles in place and add tile spacers. Wait at least 12 hours for the mortar to set.

  9. Remove the spacers and apply the grout into the tile joints with the grout float. Clean any excess grout from the tiles with a damp sponge.


  • If you don't use a membrane, water can seep behind the tile and compromise the wall.

About the Author

Cameron Easey has over 15 years customer service experience, with eight of those years in the insurance industry. He has earned various designations from organizations like the Insurance Institute of America and LOMA. Easey earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history from Western Michigan University.