Ceramic Tile Around Unlevel bathtub


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Old 12-19-14, 09:20 AM
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Ceramic Tile Around Unlevel bathtub

My bathtub is pretty typical. It's 30" x 60". However, along the back wall it's out of level about 1/2" along the 60" run. I need to tile the walls that surround it.

My plan is to draw a level line and start the 2nd row first, then come back and finish with the first row. I have a couple of questions though.

1. The tile I have is 13" x 13". How far up should I draw my level line to start the second row of tile. Should it be 13" up from the lowest spot, or should I measure slightly lower than that, say 12.5"? Also, I plan on leaving 3/16" for my grout line, should that be taken into consideration.

2. Any other tips would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Old 12-19-14, 09:23 AM
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I would plan for a whole tile at the lowest point and cut tiles from there in the bottom row as you move along the edge of the tub.

Now, let's see whether others agree with me or have better ideas.
 
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Old 12-19-14, 09:51 AM
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I was going to post the same advice Mitch did. Just be sure to draw a line at level on the wall to butt the top of the tiles against.
 
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Old 12-19-14, 09:56 AM
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I plan to start in the middle and move toward the corners, is that a good idea? That way I will have a full tile in the middle and equal sized cuts on either end. that should look pretty symmetrical.

Also, could I start on the first row, or is it just a lot safer to draw the level line and start on the second row?
 
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Old 12-19-14, 11:20 AM
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I like to do a dry layout on a floor first but that's tough on a wall. Starting in the middle sounds like a good except it could lead to a situation where you have tiny pieces in your columns at the corners and that generally does not look good.

As far as whether to start with the bottom or second row, I would snap a chalk line at the top of the bottom row and install the bottom first and then just build up from there.
 
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Old 12-19-14, 11:23 AM
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I am not a tile setter so just working from seeing my own shower wall.... Don't forget to consider how much of a tile you will end up with at the top if you start your layout at the bottom. It would be a shame to have all these full 13x13 tiles and then an odd sliver of a tile at the top. I think you want to get the right proportions by figuring out the full layout from the lowest point (longest distance from tub to ceiling) up to the ceiling. Keep in mind that starting in the center (going vertically or horizontally) may result in having either the edge of the tile at the midpoint or the center of the tile.

I may be totally off base here but it made sense to me.

- Peter
 
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Old 12-19-14, 11:24 AM
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Eek! I can think about the sides but not the top - good point, Peter.
 
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Old 12-19-14, 11:54 AM
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So, now that I'm thinking about it, I would snap a line 13 3/16" up from the lowest point in order to leave a space between the tub and the tile. Then, as you suggest, start tiling the bottom row first.

How would I go about finding the angle for each cut?
 
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Old 12-19-14, 12:26 PM
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3/16" it too big of a gap to leave to caulk at the end Shoot for 1/8" max.

You want the wall to be balanced, both left/right and top/down. Start with a grout line dead center left/right and work outward in both directions from there. Should give you a tile where you cut 2 1/2" off each side for a balanced look. Cut the corner tiles individually as the wall most likely isn't plumb in the corner either. Top/down is less critical if you are going all the way to the ceiling as long as you do not have a sliver cut against the ceiling. That will expose an out of level ceiling as well.

Take a scrap piece of base molding or door casing and us it as a ledger. Start your vertical row somewhere around the 10" mark. Nail the ledger board to the wall perfectly horizontal across the whole back wall. Then nail smaller pieces across the small walls using a level to make it exactly the same height as the back wall. Set your first row of tiles directly on this ledger when you begin to set tiles. Set all tiles above the ledger and return to individually measure your row against the tub. The 3 inches will also allow you to make a nice transition when you return to cut the first row and turn a nice radius around the lip of the tub and begin the transition to the floor (make sure that measurement works as well with no slivers at the floor).
 
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Old 12-19-14, 07:38 PM
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So, after further examination, it turns out that the tub is mostly level. I thought that it was out of level about 1/2" from left to right. That is not correct, which makes me feel a bit better because I was the one who installed the tub. As it turns out the tub is flawed. It's a steel tub and has a bit of a dip in the center, just over 1/8". This, I don't think anyway, is that big of a deal.

However, I think I might have a bigger problem. The 3 walls that surround the tun are all leaning backward out of plumb. I don't know exactly by how much, but it is definitely causing a problem in both corners. The tiles don't come even close to making a nice grout line. I think I can solve this problem by scribing each tile to fit, but I've never done that before.

Does anyone have any suggestions about how I can nicely join the tiles at the edges to create a uniform grout line going up the wall?
 
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Old 12-20-14, 04:52 AM
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Does anyone have any suggestions about how I can nicely join the tiles at the edges to create a uniform grout line going up the wall?
Re-read my previous post and work one wall at a time. Start with the back wall and make sure your left/right layout allots for a cut in both corners. Lay out all the whole tiles in the middle of the wall using a 4' level to maintain a perfectly plumb set of tiles. You also want to continually check that the tiles are level as well. Use spacers to maintain your grout lines all around the tiles. When done with the full tiles, you should have 4 rows of full tiles and space for almost full tiles at either corner. Mark each blank space with a number or letter starting at the ledger board and working your way up (1,2,3,etc). Now, take a full tile and mark the corresponding number on it so when cut, you know which space it goes in. Mark a "T" on the top and a "B" on the bottom of the tile. Now - follow along - turn the tile upside down. Hold the side marked "T" hard to the corner just above where the tile will go. Draw a mark on the tile where it meets the tile already on the wall (leave enough room for a grout line and clearance into the corner). Now, with the tile still upside down, hold the "B" side tight to the corner just below the area the tile will sit. Again, make a pencil mark where that tile meets the already vertical tile less space for grout line. Flip the tile right side up, take a square or ruler and connect the two marks with a pencil line. That is your cut line for a perfect fit tile. Mark all the tiles from 1 to 6 (or however high you are going) and set them aside to be cut. Then go to the other side and mark all the voids A, B, C, D etc. and do the same thing. Once cut, install to complete your wall.

Then choose one of the other walls to work on. Determine your layout. Use your level to draw a perfectly vertical line on the wall that is less than a whole tile from the corner. Use the plumb line to set all the whole tiles on that wall similar to the back wall. Then return and do the same procedure of marking the spots on the wall, marking top and bottom on the tile, turn upside down and measure each distance to the already installed vertical tile. This scribe needs to be a little more accurate so when you hold your tile tight to the corner, insert a spacer in the corner to hold it away from the other tile. Then mark more exactly the spot where the upside down tile meets to other tile so when inserted, you have maybe a 1/16" of an inch. That corner joint will get filled with caulk at the end.

Every corner cut is custom. Use the same technique for finishing the bottom row after you remove the ledger board. Again, working one wall at a time.
 
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Old 12-20-14, 06:42 AM
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Czizzi

Thanks for the advice. I will absolutely do what you say, however, I have one problem. If I start my 13" tile in the exact center of the back wall and use a pattern that allows for every other row's vertical grout line to line up like a brick wall, the corner pieces in every other row come out to be only 3" wide. I don't like that look.

However, if I use a pattern that starts with a whole tile in the corner, then the last tile in the row is 5.75" wide. I can then alternate the end tile for every other row creating the pattern that I want and have end pieces that are almost 1/2 tiles.

Can I still somehow scribe the first whole tile to fit perfectly level and plumb so that I can achieve my desired pattern, like a brick wall?
 
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Old 12-20-14, 06:50 AM
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Always cut your corner tiles unless you built the wall yourself and know it to be true. Take your 4' level and find the point exactly 13" (12 3/4" for some tile) from the furthest point in the lean to the wall. Drop a plumb line from there and begin your first tile. Every tile along that first row will have a sliver cut to scribe to the wall. You will not notice it in your brick pattern.

I like brick patterns personally, the only difference is that you can not mass cut all the corner pieces. You have to stop, measure, cut and install for each row. Slows things down a bit.
 
 

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