Double check your supplies. Once you roll up your sleeves and are ready to go to work you want to make sure that you have everything there that you are going to need.
Do the colors of the tile match? Some discrepancy can be attractive, but that's a personal design choice. Sometimes its a good idea to pull tiles out of different boxes as you work so any slight discrepancy is integrated into the overall look of the job.
Do you have enough quarter round tile for the edges? Is the grout the right color?
Layout Horizontal Working Lines
You should get Adobe Flash Player so you can view our video.
It is critical that you make accurate layout lines, so that you create a kind of a map to follow to assure an attractive quality job. All working lines should be bold and easy to see. The horizontal line comes first. The way you do this depends on whether your tub or shower tray is level or not.
For a Level Tub or Shower Pan
If the tub is level to 1/8-inch, measure and mark your horizontal line from the high point of the tub. A small difference will be easy to disguise with the grout. Measure the width from the lip of the tub plus 1/8-inch. If you are using standard square tile, make a straight line using a level and a straight edge along the back wall and the two end walls.
Out of Level Tub or Shower Tray
If the tub is not level, mark your horizontal line from the low point. If you don't do this, the gap along the edge of the tub and tile will really show. Determine a level line just like for a level tub and run a batten along the bottom of the line so you have a level line to work off of. You will then need to come back and custom cut the bottom row of tiles to fit.
It is usually best to nail a straight wooden batten so that the top of the batten is set to the horizontal line. This provides an exactly level surface on which to begin laying the tile. Once the tile is laid, remove the batten and install the bottom row of tile.
Vertical Working Lines
To get the best results of your tile job, lay the tiles out by adjusting them so that the width of each tile on the edges (border tiles) are the same and more than half a tile in width.
To do this, first locate the mid-point on the back wall and mark it on the horizontal line. Then line up a row of loose tiles along the back of the tub, making sure that a joint matches up with the center mark.
Whatever distance is left at either end gives you the dimensions of your border tiles. If the end tiles turn out to be larger than half a tile make the vertical center line all the way up the wall using a level and straight edge. The edge of the tile will be set to this line.
Now, if it turns out that an end tile is less than half the width of a tile move the center line exactly one half the width of a tile to the left or right. By making this adjustment you'll avoid having very narrow tiles on the end which are hard to cut and not too attractive.
The vertical layout lines for the end walls are usually done after the back wall has been tiled. Just position the vertical working lines to minimize or eliminate the number of tiles to be cut and locate any cut tiles in the corner.
Determine where you are going to put the soap dish or any other special accessory tiles or towel rods and mark their locations. These will be installed last. If your soap dish fits into the wall cut your hole before you spread the adhesive and position it to minimize or even eliminate the need to cut any tiles that will go around it.
Click to reread Part 3 of the series, or advance to Part 5.