Decorate a wall above your bath tub with a recessed display space trimmed with your favorite accent tile.
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These instructions will guide you through the steps to build the wall niche. Installation, however, should be done by someone with the building and carpentry skills needed to modify your home’s wall framing. This niche cannot be installed in an outside wall of a house. Also, it is not designed for prolonged exposure to water, as in a combination tub and shower. Avoid letting water stand on the painted surfaces and tile (such as from a wet shampoo bottle).
To confirm that the niche will fit, first measure the depth of the opening from the surface of the tub wall to the surface of the drywall on the opposite side of the wall studs. This should equal about 4 inches to 4-1/8 inches, depending upon the thickness of the drywall. If space allows, replace the 1/4-inch-thick plywood for the back with 1/2-inch-thick plywood for a firmer tile substrate.
Cut the niche sides (A) and top (B) to length from 1 x 4 boards (Tiled Bathtub Niche Project Diagram, Cutting List and Drawing 1). From a 1 x 8 board, cut the shelf (C) to length. Sand the faces of all four parts with 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper.
Using a jigsaw or fine-tooth handsaw, cut notches in the shelf where shown (Tiled Bathtub Niche Project Diagram, Drawing 2).
Drill 1/8-inch pilot holes in the top (B) and shelf, then extend the holes into the ends of the sides (A). Glue and screw the top to the sides. Repeat to fasten the sides to the shelf. Check that the corners are square, and let dry.
Cut the back (D) to fit the frame (Tiled Bathtub Niche Project Diagram, Drawing 1). If you don’t have an appropriate saw for this, ask a Lowe’s associate to cut the panel to size in the store. Glue and nail the back to the frame.
For the niche to slide into the wall opening properly, the plywood should not overhang the niche frame along any edge.
Paint the entire wall niche to help limit the effects of humidity. Let dry overnight.
Now is a good time to lay out the tiles on the niche back and make any cuts needed for them to fit. Wait to install them after the niche is in place.
Insert the niche into the wall opening and nail the sides to the adjoining wall studs. Cover the nail holes and touch up the paint as needed.
Cut the two trim sides (E) equal lengths to fit the frame, leaving about 1/8 inch of the side (A) edges exposed. Paint the side trim and nail it in place on the frame.
Miter-cut the top trim (F) to fit between two side trim pieces. Paint the entire part and nail it to the frame. Countersink the nails, putty over the holes and touch up the paint as needed.
Allow the paint on the niche to dry overnight or longer. On front face of the painted back of the niche, apply an even coat of tile mastic using a toothed trowel.
Starting in one corner, press a square of the tiles in place. Lay a scrap of wood against the tile and tap it lightly with a hammer to seat the tile in the mastic. Repeat to add the remaining tiles and allow the mastic to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions before grouting.
Avoid striking the block hard enough to flex the thin plywood back of the niche.
Apply painter’s tape to the wood around the tile to keep the grout from touching the painted surfaces. Using a grout float, press grout between the tiles. Clean the float and use the edge in diagonal passes to remove the excess grout.
Once the grout begins to form a haze on the tiles, wipe them clean with a moist sponge. Clean the sponge frequently and wring out the excess water. Follow up by wiping the tiles with a soft, dry cloth.
After the grout hardens, remove the tape. Allow the grout to dry for two weeks before applying a grout sealer.