Subway Tile Tutorial from Queen B & Me Part 1

Decor · March 12, 2012
Does it mean you have won the blog lottery when you are asked to be a contributor? Well it sure felt that way to me! I can’t think of a better compliment. I hope what I have to share with you today, and in the months to come is worthy of such praise.

This is the last and final part of our Bathroom Remodel on a budget! If you want to see the rest of the bathroom, and price breakdown go here. Come on over and say HI, I LOVE new blog friends!

Let’s get down to business and learn how to lay some tile, shall we? These steps can be used for pretty much ANYWHERE you want to install tile.. with a few modifications of course.

I am well aware of the thousands of YouTube videos out there showing you how to lay tile, and I suggest you watch some… but for me, I am a LIST and PICTURE kind of girl, I want to check things off as I go, and not worry about watching a video 500 times afraid I have missed something… Just spell it out for me in black and white, and I can conquer it! {I wish!}

For this tile job, we are starting on new sheetrock, but if you want to re-model your tub surround, I will explain that too.

1. If you are tearing out an old tub surround, make sure that the sheetrock behind it is in good condition {meaning NO water damage}

If there is, make SURE the water was coming from that bathroom and not anywhere else in the house, then tear the water damaged sheetrock out, and treat walls for mold {Watered down bleach works great!}

Then replace the old sheetrock with Green Board Sheetrock {It is made for humid areas}

2. Purchase HARDIEBACKER WET AREA CEMENT BOARD in quarter inch or half inch thickness {It’s totally personal preference} It comes in 3X5 ft sheets and they are about $10 bucks a piece. We used 5 for our bathroom, but it all depends on your dimensions.

*You need to buy screws that are made specifically for cement board, no pre-drilling required. {at least not for us, they went right in}

3. As you can see ours looks like a puzzle, we pieced it together the best we could to get the most out of those sheets cuz they are pricey!

4. MORTAR… Latex Modified Thin Set Mortar {Comes in a few colors}

You definitely need this! We used some of this dark grey that we had left over from a previous project to seal the corner joints. 

5. Mesh Tape.. Only costs a few bucks.

6. Drill {preferably one you plug in}If you don’t have one, I am sure you know someone who does.. and a Paddle bit~($12.00)

A 5-gallon bucket works best for mixing the Mortar and Grout.

7. Seal your corners and any other big gaps between the cement boards. Apply the mesh tape {it’s sticky}over the gaps, then cover tape liberally with Mortar using a putty knife or smooth edge of trowel. Let dry for at least 3 hrs.

Subway Tile Tutorial from Queen B & Me on { }

1. Trim for the edges of the tile, believe it or not- we almost forgot all about this.. We bought 58 of them at.77 cents a piece, and we returned about 18 of them.

2. If you go with a trim around the edges make sure you get the corner piece.. and obviously you need the main tile you will be using. We chose 3X6 Subway tile at only .25 cents a piece. We used about 450 tiles.

3. Shower Storage! We bought 4 of these corner shelves at $20 bucks a pop! We ended up returning 2 of them and only put shelves in the back. It looked too crowded with all 4. {Plus I thought it was ridiculous to pay $80.00 for shelving!

4. Notched Trowel; the size of your tile will depend on the size  of the trowel you will need. The notched trowel is what you use to spread the mortar(thin set)onto the surface you will be tiling.  

5. Silicone Calk. Calk the top edges of your tub to the sheetrock, then again after you put up the cement board, then again when you are totally finished, you don’t want to risk ANY leaks! {I will have pictures of this in Part 2}

6. Tile Saw; obviously an important one, hopefully you can borrow this from someone, but if not the one pictured is around $100.00 and it did the job great!

Subway Tile Tutorial from Queen B & Me on { }
1. Measure from the top of your tub to the ceiling or to where the top row of tiles will go. Calculate and mark the mid-point of the wall.  Take the mid-point and divide it by the size of tile you will be using. (If you will be using spacers in between tiles make sure you calculate that into the lay out). If you end up with more than one tile, move your mid-point to that measurement. This will make it so you will have a full piece of tile at the bottom next to your tub and a partial tile up at the top. You will need to take a level and extend the mid-point to all walls being tiled. Make sure the lines are LEVEL, then screw a STRAIGHT board on the marks and begin spreading your Mortar.

2. If you are putting edge/trim pieces on like we did, make sure you leave enough room for the trim pieces to fit. Make sure you put the edges on last.

3. {Work in an 18X18in area at a time} when you apply the mortar(thin set)you will swipe it on the wall with your trowel using the smooth side. When you have generous coverage make sure you don’t scrape too much off when you swipe over it with the grooved side.

4. Not enough mortar on the wall

5. After the upper part is dry, remove the board and work your way down to the tub setting the tile, make sure you tape each tile to the one above to prevent them from sliding down. ALSO, IF you are installing corner shelves, make sure you leave room for them {you install them last}

6. Make sure you drill a hole with a tile bit to fit the tiles over your shower head and tub faucet… Do not cut around it like my hubs did, our faucet won’t cover that.

7. Installing the shelves, use plenty of mortar, it will act as a suction cup as you place them… and make sure you tape them up good so they stay in place.

8. Depending on how you measure for your shelves, you may have small cut pieces you have to fit in around your shelves.

9. On the top of the inside corners you will have gaps, you can buy tile corners, but we found them unnecessary and we filled those gaps with grout.

Thanks for reading through this, I KNOW it is A LOT of information. You will be able to find Part 2 here tomorrow, so please check back!

P.S. I have a suite at the hotel where SNAP Conference is being held, and I am looking for roommates, let me know if you are interested.

P.P.S. To Kristyn, Thank You SO much for recognizing my talents, and asking me to be a part of your creative team. I am very honored and humbled,,, although all my husband sees is LOTS MORE WORK LOL!
So inspiring, huh!? I would LOVE to do this to our bathrooms!

Be sure to go to Queen B & Me for more fun projects from Andrea, and

for more information about Andrea please go HERE.

For more DIY projects be sure to check these out:

Black and White Bedroom Makeover and Chalk Gallery Wall { } Ideas to help inspire your own bedroom makeover!

Guest Bedroom Makeover

Beautiful Planked Fireplace Tutorial { } Great ways to spruce up your fireplace and make it beautiful!!

Planked Fireplace Tutorial

How to paint your piano - it's easier than you think! Tutorial on { }

Painted Piano Tutorial

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Amy @ Positively Splendid

We have been considering subway tile for our kitchen backsplash. What an amazing tutorial you put together! Thank you!
Amy @ Positively Splendid recently posted..Polka Dot Easter VignetteMy Profile

    Andrea @QueenBandme

    I was just about ready to leave YOU a comment on your GORGEOUS Easter Vignette! SO WOW thanks for the compliment, that means A LOT coming from YOU!
    You should totally do it! It is pretty easy, just time consuming. But SO beautiful and SO worth it!
    Good Luck if you go ahead with it and let me know if you have ANY questions!
    Andrea @QueenBandme recently posted..Bathtub Face {Makeover}My Profile

Jessie Gunderson

I love tiling! It’s so fun to have a finished massive project like that and be able to say it’s your own! I did all the floors in my house. 🙂 I have three floor mosaics also that I did. You can see one of them here

This post must have taken so much time. It’s so detailed and the pictures are invaluable. Thanks for putting in the time!
Jessie Gunderson recently posted..5 Things You Must do Now to Improve Your Facebook Page.My Profile

    Andrea @QueenBandme

    Hey Jessie! Thanks for taking the time to look thru it, and then leaving me a sweet note! I am excited to look through your tile project for sure!! See you soon {on your blog}
    Andrea @QueenBandme recently posted..Bathtub Face {Makeover}My Profile


Looks like tons of work, but I’m sure it will be gorgeous when it’s all done. Can’t wait to see the final results!
Kara recently posted..Orange Cranberry Scones with White ChocolateMy Profile

    Andrea @QueenBandme

    Hey Kara! It WAS a lot of work, but not very hard.. just lots of time! I hope you have checked back to see the AFTER pictures… I still can’t believe it’s MY bathroom!!!
    Thanks for the sweet words!!
    Andrea @QueenBandme recently posted..Bathtub Face {Makeover}My Profile


Wonderful! Just love it! I will definitely have to keep this in mind when I have a home of my own someday to make all classy and adorable. Excellent tips, thank you!
Lindzena recently posted..Joy in the Journey {Desktop Freebie}My Profile

    Andrea @QueenBandme

    Hey cutie! This is my first home to call my very own, and I have been married 10 yrs! I bet when you finally get your own it will be absolutely gorgeous!!!! Thanks SO much for such a sweet comment!!!
    Andrea @QueenBandme recently posted..Bathtub Face {Makeover}My Profile


WOW!! What an incredible project. You did an amazing job!
Alison recently posted..Sunday’s Snippets: Nerf gun, Tricycle, and Cereal!My Profile

Debra Lazaroff

When you are choosing the types of bathroom faucets that you decide to install, you will be amazed by the number of different options which are available to you. There are a number of different materials, including chrome, stainless steel, brushed nickel or brass. It can be difficult to know exactly which type of bathroom faucet to use. Each different type of faucet has different advantages and disadvantages, this makes them suitable for different purposes. Your preferences can affect the options that are suitable for you.’

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Toni Donaldson

Do you feel that the tape with mortar seals enough of the tub surround or do you believe that it is worth the money to invest in a liquid waterproofing membrane like redguard or hydro? Did you apply plastic backing before the cement boards?


WOW!! What an incredible project. You did an amazing job!
Andrew recently posted..Best pull down kitchen faucetMy Profile


What a great how-to! Thank you for sharing this tutorial, it was very helpful.

    Lil' Luna

    I’m glad it could help you! Thank you for stopping by!

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