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Tiling around baths ensuring no leaks

In your tiling career, tiling around a bath is a job you will likely come across on a regular basis. If it isn’t done properly it can cause all kinds of problems with water leaking through the ceiling below.

The main issue is caused by the natural flex in the bathtub itself. When full, an average size bath will contain somewhere in the region of 80 gallons of water. This converts in to about 300 kilograms of weight (about the same as 4 adults standing in the bath)! This huge weight will cause a fibreglass or resin bathtub to flex or sag slightly. It can even make the floor the bath stands on sag under the full load of the water.

If you have fixed your tiles directly on to the top of the bathtub, then there isn’t enough room between the bath and the tiles for a proper silicone bead. When your customer fills the bath and it sags downwards slightly, it can split the silicone which results in water getting down the back of the bath. Once this happens the water can start to pool on the floor underneath the bath and eventually seep through to the ceiling below.

There is however a method you can use to avoid this. If you fill the bath with water before you start tiling, then the sag caused by the water weight is already accounted for. Once the bath is full, use some 2mm spacers, or even some plastic tile wedges to begin your tiles 2mm above the top edge of the bath.

Once you have finished your tiling and your adhesive has fully dried, you can use a caulking gun to pump silicone in to completely fill the 2mm gap and finish by forming the silicone in to a uniform and attractive bead. A good quality professional caulking gun and a well-designed profiling tool are essential to get that high quality look.

A proper and substantial silicone bead is extremely flexible, especially under compression. That means that when the bathtub is emptied (remember to leave the water in the bath for at least 12 hours to let the silicone fully cure), the bathtub moves up slightly and compresses the silicone bead between the bath and the tiles.

One other thing that you should remember to do before you begin tiling is pump some silicone down the gap between the edges of the bath and the walls. This is belt & braces but acts as another line of defence to stop water getting down the side of the bath in the event your primary silicone bead fails.

All of the above information along with the tips and tricks to ensure leak-free bath tiling are covered in our intensive tiling courses. If you’d like to book on to one of our carefully designed courses, or just have a question you’d like to ask please give us a call on 0333 772 1933