Make a plan[Are you like me?]

I like to jump right into to things without fully thinking it through. I just go for it!  knowing I will probably hit a road block sooner or later, there is just something inside of me that says GO, GO ,GO,GO!

Well this is a mistake! 

Because almost everytime I do this, I hit that road block pretty quick. It then slows everything down, creates new problems that I could have avoided and it just makes the project more difficult.

This can also become the start of procrastination! Yep! I said that dreaded word. The one that never even crossed my mind when I jumped head first into this project. I thought this will be a piece of cake and I would finish this tonight or tomorrow at the latest.

Then I realize that there is a tool that I don’t have or some type of material that I forgot to buy. So now I jump in the car to go get it and now more time is wasted! I get back from the store to get going again and I realize I need something else.

Making a plan is really important! It will give you structure and a game plan to follow will help you win the battle over procrastination!

There are some things that you can do before you start the project,  then you can be sure you can spend the time that is needed working instead of running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off!

Also, let’s not think for a second that we can run to Home Depot on Saturday morning and get everything we need to do this project, run back home, slap the tile up, skip church on sunday to grout and bang bada boom taking a shower on Monday morning.

Pre Plan

Tiling a tub surround can be a simple project for a DIY, but it can also be NIGHTMARE! So let’s pre plan to begin peeling back the layers of this project so it’s not a nightmare.

Now that I have pretty much know you can’t do everything over a weekend, let’s figure out how we can get this to a point where it can be done over a weekend.

  • Measure the area that you are going to tile.
Be sure to add at least 5% EXTRA  for waste and mistakes. I actually would recommend getting 10% for the just in case factor. You are better off allowing plenty for errors and waste!

  • Go and find the tile that you are going to install
This can be harder than you think. Once you begin looking for that perfect tile, then you also start to see all the different design s you can do. This can take some time to figure out.

Once you find the tile you are looking for,you might need to special order it and this can be weeks before it shows up.

  • Pick out the grout and be sure to grab the matching caulk

Don’t wait to pick out the grout before you start installing the tile. Pick it out and buy it now. You don’t want to wait until it’s time to grout. Not all grouts are stocked. They might need to be ordered, so get it now so there is no waiting later. Plus this might take you some time to decide what you want. I do recommend that you get a grout that is as close to the color of the tile as you can. This helps hide un even tiles, grout joints that aren’t the same size and even minor chips. You can look at the chart on the back of a bag of grout to be sure know much is needed and 1 tube of caulk is plenty for a tub surround.

  • Get thin set 
I recommend that you get your thin set from Home Depot. They really have the best thin set available out of all the big box stores. It is called Versabond Fortified Thin Set Mortar. All of these other options that they offer are mostly gimmicks to get you to spend more money! You do not need a special thin set for porcelain tile! Just choose white or gray. White for light colored tile and grout and gray for darker color tile and grout. It’s really that simple and you mix it with water! Nothing else is needed! I would buy 2 – 50 lb. bags. You can always bring one back!
  • Buy Paintable Membrane
You need to waterproof the walls in your tub surround. This is a must and don’t let anyone at the home improvement store try to tell you differently. Remember, most of these people have just been placed in this department because that is where they needed help. That does not qualify them to know what is right and wrong to use. I use Laticrete Hydroban. It’s the best! Yes you can use Red Guard. It’s cheaper than what I use and it’s easier for you to get. So go ahead and use it.
  • You need Cement Board
The typical tub surround is 3 feet deep by 5 feet wide. Most of the time you will end a few inches below the shower head. If this is the case for you than you will need 4 sheets of 3 x 5  Durock / Next Generation [1/2 thickness]. This is what I use and I’m not going to recommend anything else. It’s easy to use and it’s been around for ever, So trust me and use it! Don’t forget to buy the joint tape. They sell it right by the cement board and yes you will need it! Also when screwing this in you can use any type of sheet rock screw(coarse thread). They will be covered by the membrane so they will not rust or go bad. They are cheaper and easy to use. They do sell special cement board screws, but they are harder to use and unnecessary.



 Tools that You Need 

I’m going to show you some of the tools that you will need ti tile a tub surround. These are going to be the specialty tools that you probably don’t have. I’m sure you have some of the basics such as a hammer, pry bar, screw drivers, chalk line ect… So I will not bore you with these.


I am suggesting you buy this Saw, it is just an example! This is a tool that can be rented


Of course there are more tools that you will need and there are really many to choose from. I do have a detailed planner that will guide you through all of the things you will need. If you would like to pick up your free copy of this planner click on the link below.





All the things that we talked about so far can be done during the week after work. Or on the weekend leading up to the install. Let’s move on and get to the next step of how to tile a tub surround in a weekend.


Demo – what to expect and how long will it take?

Existing Tile Tub Surround – 

If you already a tiled tub surround than this will be an easy demo. You really can demo this in about an hour maybe two. It is really important that you protect the tub so you do not damage it.

I would also protect the foor with some old sheets, cardboard or something like that.

I have a video that you can watch that will show you exactly how to do this. I will put a link to it at the bottom of the page.

This can be done the same weekend as the install! Also be sure to demo the sheetrock all the way to the ceiling. You want to start with a flat surface where the sheetrock meets the cement board. The tapers put a buch of extra mud along the tile edge to finish it off correctly.



One Piece Fiberglass Tub Surround

If you have a fiberglass tub surround that is a one piece system, than I’m sure you know that you will need a new tub. This is going to add another weekend to your project. You are going to need to get this out and then repalce it with a new tub.


  • You will need to cut this into pieces so you can get it out of the house. These are usually installed by the framers while they are building the house. They are almost impossible to get out without cutting it up.

  • Then you will need to install a new tub. The plumbing might not line up correctly, so you will have to do some work there. this is usually a time consuming process, but fairly simple. Every situation is different, so if you have problems or questions take a few pictures and email them to me. Or an even faster way would be to upload these to my facebook page. I get notifications of a message from facebook quicker than email. I will put a link at the bottom of the page!

  • You shouldn’t have to replace the shower vavles, they are usually adjustable by moving them back on the stud they are attatched to and then simply reatatch it.

  • Always cut the sheetrock out to the ceiling and replace it. The tapers put a bunch of extra mud along the edges of the tub surround to finish it of. This will cause problems, so get rid of it. If you damage the ceiling at all that’s okay, they sell texture in a can to make small repairs.


Fiberglass tub surround walls seperate from the tub- You are also in luck! This should be an easy demo! Just cut the walls out all the way to the ceiling so you can start fresh. This should be something that you can do the same weekend as the tile installation.


Planning Complete

Now that you have completed the planning process. You can go ahead and get started. Go get all the things on this list done. Then you are ready to move onto the install weekend! I would recommend that you either take Friday Off or Monday. This will ensure that if there are any issues during the installation, you will have time to get this completed.

In part 2 of this post on How to tile a tub surround in a weekend, I will give you all the steps that you will need to take to get this thing done. You will want to study up and do some research on how to cut tile, how to do a tile layout, how to prep walls so they are flat,  how to install tile and grouting.

I do have plenty of videos on all of these things, be sure to check out my site and the links below to find these items.

Also I do have a complete guide with videos on how to tile a tub surround. They are located in Tile University. You can get to it by (clicking here)

Links I mentioned above –


  • My Project Planner






Stay Tuned for Part 2 of How to tile a tub surround in a weekend!


Thanks for your time and please leave a comment below.

Joe Letendre


Jesus – His love never fails and it never gives up!