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Unread 05-26-2013, 02:59 PM   #1
Tired Homeowner
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Proper size gap between tile and tub

Hello, I have been searching this morning for an answer and I am one tired guy right now. I am tiling my shower walls around the bathtub and have a question about the gap size between the bottom course of tile and the tub. I am using 18 inch square tiles with a 1/16 in grout lines because that is what the wife wanted. Luckily the tiles are pretty even sized. Would 1/16 between the tub and tile be too small for the silicone?

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Unread 05-26-2013, 03:19 PM   #2
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It would be too small for me. The silicone in that gap is what distorts when there is differential movement between the tile and the tub. And forcing all that distortion on a small 1/16" gap is too much for me. The bigger the gap, the more silicone there is available to distort. I'd go with an 1/8" gap.

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Unread 05-26-2013, 04:12 PM   #3
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I usually like no bigger gap in the perimeter than I use in the field. Just looks better. N it shouldn't b about the need 4 more movement cuz things shouldn't b moving.
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Unread 05-26-2013, 04:31 PM   #4
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FWIW, cement moves about 2x tile, and wood moves about 10x tile. Acrylic moves more than wood with temperature changes. There's a reason you put a flexible joint between the tub and the tile. IMHO, 1/16" is asking for problems. Now, you could use an expansion joint and not need caulk there, nor in the corners.
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Unread 05-26-2013, 04:56 PM   #5
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How much of a temp change do u have in a occupied home? Think about yours!!
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Unread 05-26-2013, 05:36 PM   #6
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You could easily have 30+ degrees of temp change from say in the winter when you're away and turned the heat down to a hot summer day. It could approach 40 or even 50-degree difference if you're away in the summer and don't have a/c or the windows open. Just like the requirement for expansion joints in a floor, you must account for variations in expansion with other materials - hard surfaces must be free to move.
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Unread 05-26-2013, 05:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray
it shouldn't b about the need 4 more movement cuz things shouldn't b moving.
Everything is always moving Ray. Even a little bit means movement. We spend a lot of time in education on tile failure analysis and so much revolves around the expansion and contraction that happens on the micro, as well as not-so-micro scale. I'm going to agree with Jim (Jadnashua), and plan for movement. Its a lot cheaper than planning for non-movement and replacing a tile job when it fails.

Movement happens in virtually all but lab environments. Lots more up north and the wet-coasts, but even in more temporate climes where humidity can vary.

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Unread 05-26-2013, 05:46 PM   #8
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Not saying things don't move. But the difference between needing a 1/8 n 1/16 gap of silicone to handle that amount of movement . When things r moving from temp. N humidity it effect most things in the same way. More with temp. I was more talking about poorly installed fiberglass tubs n pans. But I stand behind that 1/16 of silicon is ok for temp changes in a mostly climate controlled home. If its not u can have a lot more than tile problems.
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Unread 05-26-2013, 05:46 PM   #9
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Sounds like I will go with 1/8. It makes sense, but I may go with a white silicon to match the tub instead of matching the grout so the size doesn't stand out so much. But i have to think about that more and try to picture that in my head. Thank you very much, great forum! All the posts about Redgard over Hardibacker were very helpful.

Jim
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Unread 05-26-2013, 05:50 PM   #10
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Not to mention that this is a tub install where you'll have maybe 400 lbs of water and possibly a 200 lb guy in there. Thats a 600 lb swing from empty to full not to mention any live loads when splashing around in there.

Even if the tub was set in mortar on a plywood subfloor, the weight of all the above will deflect the subfloor to some degree. Be safe - do what the TCNA Handbook for tile and stone installation says and leave some room for flex.
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Unread 05-26-2013, 05:59 PM   #11
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So Your saying 1/4 inch would be better?
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Unread 05-26-2013, 06:08 PM   #12
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The bigger it is the worse it looks. You can always re calk much harder 2 re tile. Never had any problems using 1/16 to 1/8. But I prefer smaller. Just one mans opinion.
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Unread 05-26-2013, 06:25 PM   #13
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Jim, I take the 1/4" to be the gap between tub and backer. Tile can be lower, and should be. I like the 1/8" gap for a tub or shower. But my shim material is actually 3/32nd's so I'm right in that 1/8" ballpark. Assuming my eyes are focusing well that day.
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Unread 05-26-2013, 07:56 PM   #14
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Thanks, 1/8 it is then.

Jim
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Unread 06-05-2019, 09:49 AM   #15
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reply to Topspin

Why bother with a 1/4 inch gap between the tub deck/or tub tiling flange and the backer board. The weight of your "400 lbs of water and possibly a 200 lb guy" in there will push downwards i.e. a downwards force. No need to leave a gap there!

A bead of sillicone between the tile and the tub is another story...that gap should be sealed and 1/8 inch seems reasonable to get a good contact between both surfaces.
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