Give your shower or tub a makeover with tile.
Because a shower enclosure is a wet installation, you must waterproof the walls and the framing. Use felt paper with cement backerboard but not with greenboard or waterproofed gypsum board.
A bathtub introduces additional challenges. If the tub is level, set a full tile at its top edge. To help hide the awkward appearance of an out-of-level tub, make the bottom row of tiles at least three-fourths of a tile high.
For a shower enclosure, extend the tile and the backerboard at least 6 inches above the showerhead. For a tub surround only, install the backerboard and tile 12 inches above the tub.
About 20 minutes per square yard to prepare and set tile
Utility knife, stapler, hair dryer, 4-foot level, tape measure, chalkline, carbide scriber, margin trowel, notched trowel, straightedge, drill, snap cutter or wet saw, nippers, grout knife, putty knife, masonry stone, caulk gun, grout float
Ability to use hand tools, cordless drill, and trowels
Repair structural defects, remove finished wall material to studs
Asphalt roofing cement, 15-pound felt paper or 4 millimeter poly sheet, staples, bucket, thinset, dimensional lumber for battens, backerboard, screws, tape, tile, spacers, caulk, grout, rags, sponge, water, tile base or bullnose, nylon wedges, accessories
When tiling around a tub, mark the first layout line at the vertical edge of the tile next to the tub. Follow the order shown in the diagram to snap the rest of the lines. If the tub is level, start with a full tile at its rim. If it is not level, start the first row of full tiles at least three-fourths of a tile above the rim.
Apply asphalt roofing cement to the flange of the tub. This is the place where most tub and shower surrounds fail, and water that gets into this joint will migrate upwards and down into the floor. The asphalt cement seals the tub to the waterproofing felt or 4-millimeter poly sheet.
Cut a piece of felt paper long enough to turn all corners and cover the surface in a single run. Apply asphalt mastic to the studs, then staple the paper, warming it with a hair dryer before pressing it into the corners. Overlap top pieces on lower ones and seal overlaps with asphalt mastic.
Using a dimensional layout drawing, locate the point on which a horizontal and vertical grout line will fall. Hold a 4-foot level on both planes and mark reference lines. Then snap layout grids whose dimensions equal the width of the tiles and grout joints.
When the adhesive has dried overnight, cut and set the edge tiles and remove excess adhesive from the joints. Then mark, cut, and install the tile around the showerhead and faucets. Leave at least 1/4 inch around the fixtures and fill that recess with silicone caulk. Let the adhesive cure.
To scrape excess grout off the surface, hold the float almost perpendicular to the tile and work diagonally to avoid pulling the grout from the joints. Dampen a sponge, wring it out thoroughly, and clean the surface twice, smoothing the joints. Scrub off the haze with a clean rag.
Set the pan in place and check it for level in both directions. Attach the drain to the pan and to the drain line, and test it for leaks by pouring buckets of water down the drain. Most pans have a flange that fits tightly against the wall. Install the backerboard 1/4 inch above the flange, and caulk the joint with silicone caulk.