Shower Tub Surround White Tile Advice

18 Replies

Hi all,

I have a standard white 5 ft tub surround that has been prepped and is now ready for tile. Can you give me advice/pictures of a simple tile design (a do-it yourselfer could install) that will appeal both to renters and help the resale value? The vanity, mirror, and trim of the bath are white so I'd like to stick with white/nuetral accent look.

Thank you!


Not sure if this is what you're looking for, but I recently did a bathroom in my own house with 12" tiles. The shelves are also made from tile.

That's gorgeous Rob! We are thinking more along the lines of white subway tile with an accent row. Do you think that would attract renters or help sale? The problem with doing something like you have here is we have 12x12 grey blend tiles on the floor (which would be ugly in a shower) and we don't want the shower wall tiles to clash.

One very simple thing to make it look more modern/upscale is to take the tile all the way up the wall rather than stop partway up like a tub surround. white subway tiles are nice and will go with any decor. You could consider a accent line of small glass tiles at about eye level in a color that complements the floor.

Here is one I did on a flip a long time ago. It was simple and looked nice when finished.

Subway Tile Design

I like bigger tiles so less grout lines to clean. Here's one I just did.

@Jean Bolger -That's a great point to bring it to the ceiling, I wish I would have thought of that before I laid and water proofed the backerboard.

@Justin S. - Good idea to use a different colored subway tile for the accent, it looks good. Interesting how you went with a lower accent row than most.

@Bryce Y. - Looks good, I'd be all for the 12x12 but they'd clash with our floor tiles.

Do subway tile and use epoxy grout it will never crack abd chip it is line glass and non pouris

@Justin S.

I can't let my wife see that(she will put me to work!)

Instead of epoxy use a urethane grout. Also use a silicone float and it will make clean up even easier. Whatever urethane grout you scrape off the tile just put it back in the bucket. It lasts 2 years in the bucket which is great for future tile work. Color consistency is very good. Bostik TruColor works great.

@Account Closed Yes, it turned out very nice and makes it pop. I rarely do it now though as its much more expensive and than traditional standard tile. It is fairly uncommon in phoenix as well unless you are in an older part of town and a higher end remodel. But it always looks nice when done!

For DIY, you want to do something similar to the photo @Justin S. presented. There are other types of accents that you could use instead of a different color subway tile, but some of those will get tricky at wall corners.

So I've decided to take the advice of @Jean Bolger and tile up to the ceiling. What I'll do is use mastic on the 1.5 foot of drywall (below ceiling) that is above the concrete backer board to apply those tiles.

However, I've run into an issue where I have an inch and a half of tile floating on the bottom row nearest the tub because I stopped the backerboard at the top of the tub flange. For this reason I don't think I'll be able to use the 3x6 subway tiles I originally planned on because only half of the tile would be adhered to the backerboard while the other half would be floating in front of the tub flange (with nothing behind it).

Do you guys think the 4x8 subway tile (my new option) would look just as nice or do you have recommendations for larger tiles that will increase home resale value?

Thanks for your advice!


ACK! Tim, I hope you haven't done anything yet. You've made and are talking about making some serious errors. You should have run the backerboard OVER the tub flange! That way you'll never get moisture behind the wall. If you lay tiles half on the board and half on the flange any shifting of the tub will pop or compromise the tile. And NEVER use mastic, that way lies damnation. Thinset is fine for setting tiles directly on drywall.

As for the job, I'm a big believer in basic white subways, with a black course at the floor and a black 2x6 bullnose at the top. Or an Ogee molding if you want to spend more, I did on my own bath.

Amazing info resource for all things DIY tile:

Mastic is okay to use but NEVER in wet areas. I would recommend the johnbridge site also. Epoxy grout is great but has a learning curve. Some good options on a simple liner have been mentioned. Tile design can get really creative though. I would probably use 4x4 white glazed wall tiles and cut the corners on a diagonal in the eye level row of tiles to accept an accent piece that matches the floor tile. If you have an extra piece of the floor tile just cut it into 3"x3" squares to use for your accent pieces.

As stated do not use mastic. Modified thinset will work fine. As for grouting if you have never used epoxy grout don't even try, clean up if not done right will cause you a thousand and one headaches. Have you completely waterproofed your backer? Make sure to use a non paper tape , mesh works best, and seal with your thinset. You do this just like drywall mudding.

Ive been in the trades for 20+ years with tile setting my main area. To do a good waterproofing I would suggest using the schluter system. They have amazing products. Its all that I use.

So I now have my 3x6 subway tile and some blue mosaic squares for an accent row ready to be applied. Here are my "design" questions...

1. Do you think a blue accent row is okay when it comes to reselling the house? I had trouble picking a neutral accent row that would look good and give the shower some pop.

2. With the accent row we have some decisions to make. What do you think looks best?

a. pencil strip all the way until it butts up against the bullnose along the edge. (1st picture)

b. no pencil strip with mosaic butting up against the bullnose (2nd picture)

c. pencil strip creating a box effect (3rd picture)

e. Any other ideas?

Thank You! :D

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