How To Make A Bathtub Out Of Tile (7-Step Guide)

Licensed Inspector Arie Van Tuijl
Licensed Inspector Arie Van Tuijl

🕖Last Updated On May 10, 2022

If you want to make a bathtub out of tile and see the main steps involved, you are in the right place!

In this guide, you will learn:

  • The 7 steps to make a tub out of tile
  • Using two different types of waterproofing
  • Installing thick 1/2" cement board
  • And more!
how to make a bathtub out of tile

Over my home inspection career, I have inspected a lot of showers and tubs, but a tiled tub is pretty rare indeed.

The cool thing about tubs that are made of tile is that you can design any shape that you want! You can make an extra deep tub, or you can make the tub very long. Homeowners can install really fancy stone or tile to give it an incredible look.

Keep reading to see the 7 main steps of how to make a bathtub out of tile!

What You Need To Know About Making A Bathtub Out of Tile

Making a bathtub out of tile is definitely more difficult than installing a typical bathtub.

There are more risks of water leaks, cost overruns, and damage to the bathroom. However, the advantages of making a bathtub out of tile is that you can build non-standard shapes to the tub such as...

  • Unusually deep tubs
  • Very long tubs
  • High tub curbs
  • And a variety of tub shapes

Plus, tile tubs just look cool. You can use any type of tile you want on the tub such as river stone.

Installing a tile tub and surround definitely isn't for the faint of heart. Homeowners should have some construction experience and this job isn't for beginners.

This guide is really meant just as a rough overlook of the main steps involved. I won't go into all of the plumbing details and other issues. It's essential to remember that a building permit will have to be pulled from the local building department as well.

If homeowners have any doubts about making a tub out of tile, a qualified contractor should be consulted or hired.

Read Also >> How To Snake A Bathtub Drain?

Supplies You'll Need To Make A Bathtub Out Of Tile

  • 2x4 Lumber: 2x4's will be needed to build out the tub and wall enclosure as well as the curb
  • 1/2" Cement Backerboard: Concrete board will be used over the framing to provide rigidity and moisture-resistance
  • 1/2" Plywood: A thick piece of plywood will be used for the subfloor of the tub
  • Anti-Fracture Membrane: Anti-fracture fabric will be used on the tub up to the water line and round the plumbing penetrations. This is another level of waterproofing.
  • Waterproofing Compound: A liquid elastomeric waterproofing compound like Green Barrier will be used over the cement backerboard

How To Make A Bathtub Out of Tile? (7-Step Guide)

  1. Build Out Tub Frame With 2x4's
  2. Install The Plumbing Rough-In
  3. Install A 1-Inch Layer of Treated Plywood On The Tub Floor
  4. Install 1/2-Inch Cement Board On The Tub And Walls
  5. Apply A Waterproofing Compound To The Cement Backerboard
  6. Install Anti-Fracture Membrane Fabric For Another Layer of Waterproofing
  7. Perform A Leak Test

Step 1 - Build Out Tub Frame With 2x4's

Measure and build out the frame of the tub and curb with 2x4's.

It is crucial that you build the curb and tub floor stronger than what is normal as compared to a typical shower curb and floor.

Installing the framing with 12-inch spacing OC is recommended to add more strength.

Step 2 - Install The Plumbing Rough-In

Install the plumbing rough in for the drain and faucet.

Make sure to cover the tub drain with a plastic bag to prevent debris from going into the pipe.

Step 3 - Install A 1-Inch Layer of Treated Plywood On The Tub Floor

Install a 1-inch layer of treated 'green' plywood on the tub floor for added strength.

Homeowners shouldn't skimp out on this step and go for a thin piece of plywood.

A 1-inch layer will strengthen the tub floor and help prevent future issues. You will also need to cut a hole in the plywood so the drain can pass through.

Read Also >> What Are The Top Acrylic Alcove Bathtubs?

Step 4 - Install 1/2-Inch Cement Board On The Tub And Walls

Install 1/2-inch cement backerboard on the framing and over the plywood floor which will give strength and prevent mold and water damage.

Cement board is moisture-resistant and commonly used in bathrooms and tub enclosures.

For most shower enclosures, 1/4-inch concrete board is usually used, but since you want more strength for this tile tub, 1/2-inch board is recommended.

Step 5 - Apply A Waterproofing Compound To The Cement Backerboard

Apply a waterproofing compound over the cement backerboard.

A waterproofing membrane such as the brand Green Barrier will make the cement board resistant to water intrusion and damage.

They typically come in 5 gallon buckets and one bucket should be enough for the entire tub enclosure.

how to make a bathtub out of tile (1)

Step 6 - Install Anti-Fracture Membrane Fabric For Another Layer of Waterproofing

Install anti-fracture membrane fabric to areas sensitive to water intrusion such as around the faucet, and the corners of the tub enclosure.

This highly flexible fabric can be bent 90-degrees and still 'not fracture' preventing water intrusion.

Homeowners should have the anti-fracture membrane also over the tub and up to the water line.

An anti-fracture membrane coupled with an elastomeric coating are two needed waterproofing strategies when building a tile tub.

Read Also >> What Are The Best Freestanding Bathtubs?

Step 7 - Perform A Leak Test

Homeowners should perform a leak test when everything is done except the tiling.

A water leak test will show you any areas of leaking so you can fix it before the finished tilework.

Frequently Asked Questions On Making A Bathtub Out of Tile

Can You Build A Bathtub From Tile?

Building a bathtub out of tile is more challenging than a typical tub installation but it can be done.

Bathtubs made out of tile are pretty rare, but they can look great and be very functional.

Making a bathtub out of tile is really the same process as installing a tiled shower except the curb is much higher. You will also need to use stronger building materials and extra waterproofing steps.

How Do You Frame A Bathtub For Tile?

Framing a bathtub for tile is really the same process as for a new shower. 

2x4 lumber is used for the framing, but homeowners should space the lumber closer together for extra strength such as 12" OC spacing.

The joints of the 2x4's can be connected with butt joints. The walls of the tub are usually right angled from the floor, and the back of the tub is usually angled.

Final Thoughts On Installing A Tub Out of Tile

Making a bathtub out of tile is a really cool project. 

These custom tiled bathtubs are really rare, and they can look beautiful.

Tiled bathtubs can be made into almost any shape such as extra deep tubs, very long tubs, or odd-shaped tubs.

Probably the biggest thing to keep in mind is to have multiple layers of waterproofing to prevent any water damage. It is also essential to do a water leak test prior to installing any tile. And you may want to do the water test overnight or 24-hours just to be sure.

I hope you enjoyed this guide!

Meet Your Home Inspector Secrets Author

Leave a Comment

Learn More Expert Home Maintenance Tips

Home maintenance shouldn’t be that difficult. Check out these helpful guides to make home maintenance more understandable!

Got Home Maintenance Questions? Search For In-Depth Answers Below!

About Home Inspector Secrets

Home Inspector Secrets is an online resource for owners, buyers, and sellers to understand all aspects of home maintenance. We have detailed home guides, product reviews, inspection advice, and much more.

Recently Published Guides