No Idea What to do with Bathtub Step! [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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10-06-2006, 01:50 PM
I'm down to the last room to tile but first have to figure out what to do about the step in front of the tub. The whole room was carpeted including the step. From the pictures you can see the basic construction. It's made up of 2x8's and a 2x12 for the step itself. A piece of 2x8 is nailed into the wall at each end and the step sits on top of them. There is a support in the middle that the step is also nailed to. The riser does not touch the slab - it is nailed to the end and middle supports. The area where the tub sits is about 1.5 inches lower than the rest of the floor - I don't know why. Well, the toilet area had tile that was set on a mud bed and this tub area is down at that level.
Is there a way to reinforce the step and leave it or does it need to be removed and start over? I've thought of using cinder blocks to rebuild the step but would they shift and crack along the joints? I plan to cover the step with Ditra which will be on the floor also.

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10-06-2006, 02:15 PM
Welcome to the forum. do you have a first name? Idit your profile and it will come up each post. we like to remain friends around here.
So tell us how sturdy the step is now? If it is solid you can put Ditra or CBU over it and tile. If it has movement you will need to rebuild or reinforce so it is solid. Then cover with Ditra or CBU. What happens in the void between the top of step and the tub top edge?
If you can make the step two cinder blocks wide I would think that you can build your step that way and it will be fine.
Good Luck

10-06-2006, 02:24 PM
Hi, I'm not new but thanks for the welcome anyway. (This has been on going for almost a year) My name, Karen, is kind of lost at the bottom below the pictures. :)
The step is fairly sturdy but I think it does have some give. Would it need CBU if I use Ditra?
Between the step and the tub edge was another pice of 2x12 which was carved out in the back to fit around the hoses. I need to have access behind there anyway and so planned to use 2 pieces of CBU in place of the board, tile on the CBU, then caulk them into place. Does that sound workable?

10-06-2006, 02:39 PM

I'm thinking a picture that shows the whole tub would help me with the visuals, cuz it almost looks like a platform tub that wasn't installed on a platform.

Iszit Karen?

Anyway, not sure if your plan of using a 5 foot long slice of backer board with tile applied will be stout enough to hold up against being knocked against with a toe while climbing into the tub. I also cannot see being able to seal it at the top where it meets the bottom edge of the tub.

Howzabout removing the step completely, then build a wall under the front edge of the tub? You could position your studs to miss all the hoses and, if planned correctly, you could even tile the top edge of the wall before actually putting the wall in place. Can even build in access panels.


10-06-2006, 04:56 PM
Here's a picture of the whole tub. It probably was supposed to be set with a deck around it but it's in an alcove and just had the step in front. Nothing was done correctly when previous owners remodeled about 20 years ago.
By a wall do you mean a deck that would extend out 10 inches then the front panel to the floor?
On the CBU piece between the step and tub, I would attach wood strips to the step and sides to back it up.

10-06-2006, 05:17 PM
Hi Karen,

I'm no pro, but I think you'll have problems putting Ditra directly over dimensional lumber. I think, at the least, you'd have to put plywood on it. Same may apply for CBU.

10-06-2006, 05:31 PM
Karen, kinda what Dan is saying. I would frame it so the tile slips under the lip of the tub and the front is tile completely. If you want the step put plywood on it then cbu. You probably won't be able to wrap a step in ditra(maybe kerdi).

10-06-2006, 06:10 PM
I don't really care about the step but without it there would be a 1.5 in deep void in front of the tub that would need to be filled. Also, without the step the side walls would be a mess and need to be rewallpapered.
Kerdi would make more sense or Reguard for that matter. The front panel, as it is now, sits on the step and fits under the lip which is what I planned to do with the tile. The tile would be flush with the front edge of the tub.
Would it really need plywood under CBU since it is just one plank of dimensional lumber? What about the thought of using cement blocks - sort of a monument step instead of monument bench?

10-06-2006, 08:47 PM
I just reread the first answer from JTG and realized that he mentioned the cement blocks. I think he's saying that the space is too wide for that option.
But he did say if the step was sturdy, I could put Ditra on top and tile. So now I'm back to that thought. Any more opinions on using Ditra on top of a single board? The riser would need a piece of 1/4 CBU to bring it out to the edge of the overhanging step.

10-07-2006, 12:36 AM
I'm another amateur, but everything I've read says that you have to have plywood over dimensional lumber and then a CBU or membrane. So I vote with Marcus.

10-07-2006, 12:57 AM
Thanks - I know, I was just hoping. It's just that the step is going to be getting kind of high with all that on top of it.

10-07-2006, 10:04 AM
If I rip the step out and rebuild it with plywood what do I need? Is one layer of 3/4 plywood alright (with supports)?

10-07-2006, 12:31 PM
Congratulations Karen, you now have to deal with the flaws inherent with drop in tubs. They are indeed to be dropped into a flat deck with ideally as much space around all sides as possible. In alcoves tubs should have a lip that extends up from ANY corner where it meets the wall. The wall then extends down over this to shed any water into the tub.

Just know that any water getting outside of your drop in lip must be removed immediately or over time it will fall apart. See Pic.

As far as your step. The best thing to do is to remove this step and fill the 1 1/2" void with mud, and tile over. Then wherever you choose, bring up a solid panel to match the deck height you desire. Or you can leave the step in place, just cover it with durarock or hardibacker for easy application of tile. They make it down to 3/8 or 1/4 thicknesses, so its easy to work with and wont change too much of the dimension.

But remember, as nice as you can make it, it's still a flawed system in an alcove. Keep the wild tub behavior to a minimum, or water will cause a problem.

Good Luck


10-07-2006, 01:24 PM
I know the problems of not having a flange around the tub but actually this one isn't quite as bad. There are closets at either end of the tub alcove and in each one there are doors that provide a 28 inch wide access to tub area. The alcove sheetrock framing only comes down to the top edge of the tub so if it leaked it would just be into the open cement area which could be dried out easily. It's really a crazy setup. When we moved in the walls at either end of the tub were covered with full mirrors and the long side had wallpaper - the tub butted up to all of that. We took out the mirrors and installed a matching backsplash on all three sides.

10-07-2006, 01:33 PM
Yeah, take a flatbar and rip off that 2x and put 3/4" plywood on the tread, with a backer.

11-12-2006, 07:27 PM
We're still working on the bathroom but making progress. The step has been ripped out and a new front built. I've also removed the cultured marble splash around the tub and some of the wallpaper and will replace with tile. The wall was very uneven which was fine with the wallpaper but won't work with tile. I've built up low areas with thinset but the thinset extends past the splash area into the area which will be wallpapered. Is it alright to use regular joint compound over the thinset to smooth it out with the sheetrock? It won't be behind the tiles at all - I am putting Kerdi in the splash area.

11-12-2006, 07:37 PM
Is it alright to use regular joint compound over the thinset to smooth it out with the sheetrock?

That will work just fine Karen.