Ultimate "Tiling for Dummies" guide [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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09-26-2001, 10:00 PM
After reading several other posts and asking several questions in my "vapor barrier" post, I've decided to sum up everything I've learned in the most intelligence-insulting, step-by-step and simple way possible. I'll include even the smallest detail so that some of you experts can catch me if I'm about to screw something up.

1. Start with very solid 2x4 framing with no span greater than 16 inches. Frame both sides of the corners so that each wall has a 2x4 directly behind it's end. Support the edges of the tub with a horizontal brace to prevent it from flexing down under pressure. (Follow tub manufacturer's directions for the rough in) Cover the framing completely with poly or 15# roofing paper leaving a little bit of overlap into the tub. Drink some beer.

2. Install concrete board in much the same way as drywall but use galvanized nails spaced 12 inches apart, don't countersink the heads too much, tape joints with fiberglass mesh tape, mud the joints with thinset mortar, and leave a very slight gap between the board and the tub. Trim the vapor barrier back to where it is just visible in the gap. Fill the gap with silicone to allow for some flexibility in the joint as well as prevent water from wicking up into the concrete board. Do a silicone joint in the corners too. Use water resistant drywall for the portion of the wall that extends above the tile as well as for the rest of the bathroom. Drink some beer.

3. Use a latex modified thinset that has been mixed to be fairly stiff - too much water (soupy)is bad. Apply an even coat to the entire area that the tile will cover and screed it with the triangle cut edge of the blade (not the square cut edge, that's for the floor) held at about a 45 degree angle. Drink some beer.

4. Start laying tiles in one corner of the back wall and go all the way across. Cut a tile to leave only a very slight gap between it and the side wall, keeping the cut edge against the side wall and the finished edge out where the grout will be. Continue laying rows in this fashion until you get as high as you wish to go. Lay the bullnose row in the same manner as the main tiles. Drink some beer.

5. Do each side wall the same way as the back wall, starting from the back and working forward, then up. Leave a slight gap between the back wall and side wall tiles. This gap will later be filled with silicone. To finish the lower part of the wall where the tile extends farther out than the tub, run the bullnose row all the way down first using a level to keep them straight. Work back toward the front of the tub to fill in the space between the bullnose and the tub, keeping the cut edge of the tiles against the tub. Drink some beer.


7. Fill the corner gaps with silicone as well as any place that tile meets tub. Apply a high quality grout to all the other gaps by working a blob over the tiles at a 45 degree angle to the gaps with a smooth trowel. Use a damp rag or sponge to wipe off the excess, being carefull not to scrub the grout out of the gaps but at the same time going over everything thouroughly. Drink some beer.

8. ALLOW TO CURE COMPLETELY!!! Drink some beer

9. Apply a sealant to the entire thing. Drink some beer.

10. Invite all your neighbors over to admire your handiwork and drink lots of beer to celebrate completion of a very big project!

OK, There's my version of the required steps to make it work. Let the debates begin!


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Bud Cline
09-27-2001, 06:25 AM
I would disagree with the methods described in #4 and most likely #5 also.

Rob Z
09-27-2001, 06:37 AM

Remembering to drink some beer at the end of each workday is an important first step. Good job!

#3. If you mean that you will coat the surface of the board with thinset, let it dry, and then start tiling...I would not do this. I would flat trowel thinset on the surface before troweling/combing ridges and setting tile (all part of the tile setting process, no delay between steps).

#4. I usually start from the center and work laterally. Shift 1/2 tile from center if starting from center results in small cuts next to the corners.

#5. start from corners ONLY if corners are plumb and you can allow for a full column of tiles out side the tub next to the bull nose.

Rob Z

09-27-2001, 08:23 AM
I disagree with step 2. I'm definitely no expert, but from what I've learned here on the forum, you should use screws and not nails. I found that the Rock On screws from H.D. worked a little better for me; I had some trouble countersinking the heads using Durock brand screws. Once I switched to the Rock On screws everything went smoothly.

Cami A
09-27-2001, 10:58 AM
Wait, wait, wait.... I didn't see "standing around" listed anywhere. I KNOW that is a crucial step in any installation!

John Bridge
09-27-2001, 04:11 PM
Hi All,

"Standing Around" is truly the first, intermediate, and last step of any successful project, tile or otherwise. If any of you haven't read my book, I can post the instructions for you. Let me know. Way to go, Cami. Won't be long before you and Curt will be "Sitting Around."

In tiling a tub surround I start the end walls even with the front of the tub unless someone tells me otherwise. I make the cuts in the corners whether the corners are plumb or not. The bullnose then goes against the front of the tub and down to the floor.

Never start setting floor tile along a wall unless you know the opposite wall is parallel and will accept full pieces also, and even then, it's better to start in the middle someplace and work toward the walls. Do a complete layout with chalklines before you even mix any mud. Often in small bathrooms we are able to make all the cuts before the mud is mixed.

Rob Z
09-27-2001, 07:25 PM

thanks for keeping everyone honest!

I do use nails on walls quite often, but I also use heavy duty construction adhesive on the studs to help hold the cement board.

If I am not in a hurry, I do use the cement board screws.

Either way, i think the installation will last.


09-27-2001, 07:39 PM
Thank you everyone for all the very helpful advise. I'm going to get another beer now and then start hanging concrete boards.


Bud Cline
09-27-2001, 08:10 PM
OK Rob, now you got me. (I hope I don't feel really silly here when you explain)

How do you use construction adhesive on the studs to hold the cement board when you have already installed a poly vapor barrier?

Rob Z
09-27-2001, 08:51 PM

Good point. I should clarify what I meant by saying that since I put a membrane (such as 9235) on the face of the cement board, I omit the use of the poly vapor barrier.

I just wanted to make the point that I think the reduced holding power of roofing nails as compared to screws is compensated by the construction adhesive.

Sorry for the confusion.


09-28-2001, 05:14 AM

I'd add to 4&5, go over all tile grouting areas to make sure no thinset is visible in the spacings between tiles. Saves much grief in removing when dry. Makes for terrible grouting job if not removed. Good luck, fellow junior member.

09-28-2001, 05:18 AM

I meant the preceeding comment for you. Sorry Cami. Good luck to you too, fellow junior member.