Bathtub trim

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
Bathtub trim

As in many older houses, our bathtub has settled over the years, resulting in a widening gap between the wall tiles and the edge of the tub. The widest gap was nearly 3/4 inch, making caulking very difficult. It also is hard to clean and maintain, because scrubbing weakens the seal. At a yard sale a couple of years ago I found "Tile Edge Ceramic Bath and Shower Edging Kit," a product that apparently is no longer available. It contained 16 quarter round tiles, 4 quarter round tiles that were mitered on one side, and 2 quarter round bullnose tiles, and a small tube of siliconized acrylic latex tube and tile caulk. The kit's been waiting for a good time to install it, and today was the day.

I laid out the tiles first and confirmed that the two corners would be the problem areas, because poor placement of a tile against either wall affects the corner joint. I decided to do both corners first, then add the straight pieces along the length of the tub, and finally trim the head and foot of the tub. With this approach I would have to cut three of the straight tiles, which is much preferable to trying to cut the mitered or end pieces, which would be harder to replace if I make a mistake.

I placed two mitered tiles in the first corner and worked towards the foot of the tub with straight tiles, stopping two tile lengths from the head. I then placed the second pair of mitered tiles in place. Then I held a straight piece up to the space between the straight wall tiles I had already placed and the new corner, and marked a cut line, remembering to leave enough of a gap to accommodate caulk on each end. I had intended to score the tile with a tile cutter and try to break it as I would a normal tile square, but I was concerned that I might not be able to make a nice, straight score. Then it occurred to me that it might have better luck scoring it in a miter box with a box saw. In trying to score the tile, I found that it cut very easily on the unglazed side, so instead of scoring and breaking, I just cut right through with the saw. It worked wonderfully, and I used the same technique to cut the straight pieces for the trim along with wall of the tub head and foot.

This was an easy job and really improves the look of the tub.