Do I need a tile person to install wall bathroom tile?
January 26, 2017 12:25 PM   Subscribe

I'm replacing the tile around a bathtub (tile going from the tub to the ceiling on three sides). It has to be 'floated' on concrete to make it come out to the edge of the tub. Do I need a specialized tile person to install it, or can a handyman install the tile? If it matters it is demoing 4x4 and installing 12x24 wall tile, they will have to work around an existing faucet and showerhead.
posted by stewiethegreat to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It has to be 'floated' on concrete to make it come out to the edge of the tub

I'm guessing you mean a mortar bed, rather than concrete. This is not a skill set that your average everyday handyman has mastered.
posted by jon1270 at 12:30 PM on January 26, 2017

It depends on the handyman. Tile is one of those things that is easy to do badly, it's really noticeable when it's done badly, and it's hard to fix once it's installed.

Whether it's a tile person or a handyperson, make sure you get some references from people who are happy with the tile they've had installed.
posted by bondcliff at 12:34 PM on January 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you care about how it looks, get a real tile layer. This is the most reliable/professional tile professional forum out there; they have lots of locals to recommend:

I see shitty tile jobs every day and they make me sad. Don't go cheap on your bath reno, because if it looks awful, you'll have to tear out all the tile, buy new tile and setting materials, find a new tile layer, and pay them to redo it. Get it done right the first time. Also, if there's any waterproofing at hand to be done, that REALLY needs to be done right, or you might have water damage that leads to crumbling tile and mortar, and soaked/rotting drywall or wood or god knows what.

Oh, and if you can stomach the extra cost/labor for epoxy grout (Laticrete Spectralock Pro Premium) and the tile layer you go with knows how to use it... do it.
posted by rachaelfaith at 12:46 PM on January 26, 2017 [10 favorites]

I have it with authority from someone who just did it that laying 24" tile is much harder than laying smaller tile. It is harder to get the mortar bed level in the larger stretch. He reports many mornings of ripping out a tile laid the previous day. And he was working with a tile layer.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:06 PM on January 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

We moved into a house with a beautifully-tiled bath tub surround, but whoever put it in didn't pay as much attention to the need for waterproofing. At some point, we're going to have to scrape the whole thing off and have it redone, as the tiles near the base of the installation are already showing signs that the backing material is absorbing moisture and slowly, but surely, pushing tiles out of place. It looks like it was a combination of the wrong grout, no sealant, and who-knows-what material used behind the mortar. I'd definitely take the advice to hop onto that forum linked above--satisfied references (especially ones offered years after the work was done) mean a lot with regard to this kind of work.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:15 PM on January 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yes. Badly done tile around a tub leads to water damage. *shudders* Do not skimp on this.
posted by jbenben at 2:08 PM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Think about using concrete board instead of drywall.
posted by H21 at 3:34 PM on January 26, 2017

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