Bath-tub tile issue

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by Lisa Cassells, Dec 12, 2006.

  1. Lisa Cassells

    Lisa Cassells New Member

    Dec 12, 2006
    occupational health and construction
    San Francisco Bay Area
    We are installing a new whirlpool tub in our addition. The frame of the tub has a slight curve on the front. We are using 6x6 ceramic tile and we want tight grout lines. I am being told that the grout lines in the front of the tub need to match the grout lines on the top of the tub. Problem being is that some of the grout lines are 1/4" - 1/2" thick and it is in various place, so there is no uniformity to the grout lines:confused:

    How can we make this look more appealing by making the joints smaller?
  2. geniescience

    geniescience Homeowner

    Nov 27, 2005
    humid summers hot, humid winters cold
    trade off or work around

    hi lisa,

    First, about grout lines: not good to make them really thin. Second, tell us how thin a thin line is. If you line up 9 tiles in a row spaced as tight as you like the line to be, how much is the total distance? 55 inches? 54.75"? 55.25"? 55.50"? This will help the discussion stay on track when people say "thin" and then thinner or thicker from that measurement.

    Your problem: The shape of the frame is designed to be curved in front. (Is this right?) The slight curve, a design feature, is significant enough to be noticeable. Big question: how much is this curve? The bulge in front. Which tub is this? Its shape will be visible in a pdf file somewhere on the manufacturers web site. Tell us more.

    A curve is a bit more distance to cover than a flat surface. This extra distance has to compensated for by increasing thin grout lines into thick and thicker grout lines. Not good. You have very few options.

    One extremely unlikely option is that you will find enough variance in tile size that you will be able to use only "bigger" ones on the front of the tub surround. Tiles are not perfectly square and not precisely the same length on all sides. If you hunt (select and deselect), you will find some that are slightly different in size, perhaps with a non-square shape, perhaps almost like rectangles. You could screen out tiles that are longer on one side from those smaller on one side and that might be a start to your solution. Seriously. Sounds like fun to keep you amused and planning for days to come, but it is serious, and some tile layers can check squareness and variance within a few minutes and then calculate options within another few minutes. However the variance on a small tile is a small small number, so don't get your hopes up, but do do the math nonetheless.

    The other options all make use of some tiles in the layout being cut down in size slightly. Perhaps this won't look good because some tiles would lose the rounded edge and others not. This can be worked around easily. Many good looking tile layouts can be suggested to you, some of which require the rounded edge to be cut off on only a few tiles.

    Perhaps your tile layer has no saw. :)

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  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    I don't know any law that the grout lines have to be the same. Grout lines are mainly appropriate to the size of the tile. 1/8 to max 1/4 would be normal for 6" tiles. 1/2 is too big in my opinion, but it is strictly your personal choice.
  5. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Oct 20, 2005
    New Hampshire
    Do you have a craftsman setting the tile, or a not-so-handyman who knows how to stick tile on the wall?

    The tile should be laid out so uneven grout lines are not required. That is related to planning the job, which is what a craftsman does.

    With a saw or grinder you can take material off the edge at the back of the tile so the exposed face has the standard slightly-rounded corner of the fired tile, but you are still able to maintain the desired grout line.

    On most fired clay tile the back is softer so it can even be done with a good belt sander.

    The only time that won't work is if the curve is so sharp that you have to cut the tile. You can still maintain the grout line, but you will have cut edges on the tile.

    If it isn't a highly glazed tile, you can sometimes round off the edges of the cut tile so it looks better than the sharp break.
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