Building Custom Bathtub & Shower [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


View Full Version : Building Custom Bathtub & Shower

08-29-2001, 12:50 AM
Hi folks,

I have an interest in replacing a standard bathtub/shower with a custom bathtub/shower.

I'm looking for general information on how to proceed. The base is concrete, and it's 2x6 studs on three sides.

I'm willing to purchase reference material but would prefer an online resource (here?) if available.

Thanks in advance.


Sponsored Links

08-29-2001, 07:24 AM
Take it from a rookie. Buy a Tile Setting Book, get the TCA Handbook and maybe a Video (shower pan construction). Study this stuff. Read every single article you can get your eyes on. Let the Pros (here) help you fine tune your understanding of Tile Setting. Do not take advice from the Big Boxes. Be careful of the DIY Shows on TV.

Dano who is having too much fun on his own project after buying his own MK Diamond tile saw.

Rob Z
08-29-2001, 09:16 AM
GO GETTIM DANO!! Soon you'll want to quit your day job and be a tile setter!


I suggest buying John's book, Michael Byrne's book and videos, and getting product demo videos from any MFR whose product you are going to use.

These are helpful references during the project as well as helping you before you start.

MB's info can be located at

I think Amazon may have better prices on some of that stuff.

Let us know how we can help.


John Bridge
08-29-2001, 12:02 PM
I hope by "custom bath tub" you don't mean one built out of tile.

Give us a little more, and we can be a little more specific.

08-29-2001, 12:04 PM
sounds like a roman tub?

Rob Z
08-29-2001, 09:15 PM
Yes, how did I miss that? If you are talking about a Roman Tub, let us know now.

09-02-2001, 02:41 PM
Ok, I guess my first post wasn't as clear as I thought. YES, I need to build a tub from scratch. The space I have, what we want, and what is available on the market don't mesh.

I have seen custom built tubs with tile as the final surface so I thought I would ask the question here.

Thanks to all that have responded so far.

09-02-2001, 08:00 PM
Scotto,how you doin'?

Custom tiled tubs are an extravagant beast.Movie stars in the 40's and 50's in Beverly Hills often had them built,seen 'em in a magazine.Never built one myself(will do one with Italian "Bisazza" 1" mosaics when I buy a house.I do tile-work for a British lady who promises me she'll sell her 100 yr. old house to me when I'm ready to lay down the cash.

This tub project is no easy task,even for a seasoned tilesetter.
Here's how I would go about it:

I would remove subfloor and reinforce the joists,then rough in the plumbing.Then build the frame out of 2x4's and clad it with 3/4" plywood.I'd staple tar paper and metal lath to that and shape it with a fine concrete sand and portland mix.On top of that I would lay a membrane such as a shower pan liner.
Then proceed to do a mud bed reinforced with 2"x2" 16 guage wire up to a 1 1/2" thickness.On that I'd install a waterproof membrane such as Schluter's Kerdi mat with an epoxy mortar.Then install the mosaics with Mapei's Keralastic and grout with an epoxy grout.

Something such as I have planned would probably take me a full week to do(that's just the tub)and cost about $1500 for the tiles and about $800 for the materials.

Hmmm...O.K. I'll keep the cast iron tub and buy a fancy shower curtain on second thought.

Rob Z
09-02-2001, 08:58 PM

I have never done a Roman tub, but hope to someday. As Ron described, they are a lot of work and need a lot of attention to detail.

I wish that there was a book out there to use as a reference. If anyone knows of one, please give us a source.


John Bridge
09-03-2001, 12:14 PM
Yep, thought so.

I'm amazed that people are able to complete ceramic tile showers, which are quite involved. Tile tubs are more so. One of the toughest things I can think of. You do a tremendous amount of work, and then if it leaks, you're screwed.

I wouldn't do it myself, and I won't begin to try to tell you how to do it. I'm sorry.

Can we interest you in a regular shower, or a tub dais with a tub dropped into it?

09-10-2001, 09:26 PM
Well, here's my problem -- I have a space that is concrete floor on the bottom, 5' long, and 4' wide.

I want a soaking-tub and shower.

I'm 6'3" tall and 250lbs.

I need a tub that is deep enough that I can "soak" without displacing all the water into the overflow.

I can't find a tub to meet my specifications.

Maybe I should have asked the question:

Where can I get a 5'x4'x26"-ish deep tub?

Thanks again for all of your ideas.


Rob Z
09-10-2001, 09:49 PM

It's good to see another big guy lumbering around this site.

Search through Kohler and Jacuzzi's websites for large acrylic soaking tubs. I did a bathroom about four years ago that (I think) the tub we put in was 5' x 42". I think it was a Kohler I used on that job.

I'm sure jacuzzi has large tubs, as well.


09-18-2001, 02:07 PM
I recently returned from a trip to Costa Rica and while there was contemplating my remodel so I was always looking for ideas. In my room at a swanky place I had a tile tub in the bathroom I liked it. The tiles where (if I remember) about 2"x2" and it was not sunk in. it was boxed in three walls and had one side exposed. I believe it was made completely from concrete similar to a built in pool. The only thing I don't think I could handle is trying to maintain the grout and keeping it clean. Was a nice look though. Good luck

09-27-2001, 05:34 PM
Well folks, I think I found a tub that I'm going to order. It's still not as deep as I would have liked, but it's certainly better than what I have now. Thanks to all for the ideas and advice.

If anyone is interested or might want to comment, the tub I'm interested in is a Kohler Infinity.

I'll be back for more questions once I get this installed!


Rob Z
09-27-2001, 07:09 PM

I have installed many such tubs, although not that specific model.

Don't use the kohler (sold separately) tiling flange. It is a waste of money and a real piece of....

Since you are going to make this tub a part of a shower, you'll need a flange around the edge of the tub. i make my own by installing stainless or aluminum flat stock around the perimeter of the tub, screwed to the walls and heavily caulked in with silicone.

You can omit this step if you are planning on using a waterproofing membrane on the walls. We can discuss that if that is your plan.

Set that tub in a base of mortar, mixed very wet. Put a piece of roofing paper on the subfloor so the plywood doesn't suck the moisture out of the mud. The mud needs to be sloppy wet, wet enough to ooze around as the tub is pushed down into it.

Have a helper when you set the tub in the mud and level it up.

If possible, make the apron portion of the framing as a separate wall that you can slide in and install after the tub is in. This will make your life much easier.

Set the tub on the garage floor and temporarily shim it level so you can see how much mud is needed to fill it in underneath.

If you have a hole in the ceiling below to hook up the trap-be sure to have a tarp to catch dripping mud.

One more issue is to plan for the tub lip to over hang the tub framing with enough gap underneath to allow for tile, mud, etc. It is important to get this right. The weight of the tub should not be supported by the overhanging part.

What I do is make a good guess of what the gap will be once the tub is set in the mortar, allow a bit extra, and frame accordingly. I usually mud the top of the tub deck so I can make it exactly what it needs to be rather than trying to get it in exact increments of what ever underlayment material is available.

If you are willing to float mortar on the top, then things will be easy. If you are going to use cement board and install it on the deck before the tub goes in, you will have to do some close figuring before hand.

Let us know what other questions you may have.

Rob Z

[Edited by Rob Zschoche on 09-27-2001 at 09:14 PM]

09-27-2001, 07:29 PM
Have you looked at the "Seaside"? It's an oval, so is wide and looks very comfortable. My husband and I are going to get this model for our new construction. Also, Kohler makes a model called the "Greek Tub". It is very deep, but looks kind odd to me.

10-23-2001, 11:26 PM
Well, it's been a while since I've checked in, but thanks to all of your advice I've got a tub installed.

I'll be starting on the enclosure soon. My current plan was to use a vapor barrier, "wonderboard" concrete backer board, and then tile.

There is a picture of the new tub (and the hole in the back of my house) at

Thanks again for talking me OUT of a Roman Tub!


John Bridge
10-24-2001, 04:51 PM
Hi Scotto,

That's a nice pic of the hole in your house. :)

Everything looks good to me. I notice you have a little ledge along the back of the tub. If I were you I would raise that so that the tiles will be above the tub in that area. You could trim it out with bullnose coming horizontally over the lip/rim of the tub. The reason is that the recess will act as a water catchment. It's an aggravation you don't need.

Also, it appears to me you should furr out the end walls so that the backer board actually ends up over the flat part of the tub rim.

Also, there is a "tile kit" that comes with that tub that should be used since the tub is to be used as a shower. The tile kit consist of a rubber gasket that goes all the way around the perimeter of the tub. It is cemented on with silicone caulking (behind where the tile will be). It ensures that any water that should happen to get through under the tile is directed back into the tub and is not allowed to roll off the ledge onto the wood framing.

Also, your work looks absolutely stunning. You've made rough framing an art form. :)

Also, just kidding.

11-25-2005, 03:26 AM
Not much posted to this forum for a while, but I am interested in information on building a roman tub. Several reasons, I'm 6'2", like to bath with my wife :loaded: , have a 5.5 space and want a shower too. I searched for a drop in tub but can't find anything I like under $1500. Most drop ins have a raised lip which in my opinion wouldn't take to a shower very well leaking water around the space between the tub and walls onto the floor. I could always install a full surrounding shower curtain, but yuck! Web searching is making me a bit rummy.
Any help is greatly appreciated.

11-25-2005, 07:00 AM
(first name =?) Plenty of people here have plenty of experience with tubs and weird sizes. Draw a few lines, showing the entire space and the corridor outside and the door. Post it here. Wait a few days after that.