Although installing a tub surround over fresh backerboard is preferred, homeowners who are embarking on a do it yourself project may simply wish to install the surround over the existing tile in the bath. If carefully completed, installing the tub surround over the tile can achieve professional results that will leave no indication of the tile beneath.
Step 1: Remove the shower head and faucet handles, as well as anything else that can be removed and obscures the tile. You may need an adjustable wrench or screwdriver for this step, depending on the type of shower head and faucet in your bathroom.
Step 2: Remove any permanently attached soap dishes, grap bars, and other items fixed to the tile. Use a pry bar and hammer as necessary for the removal.
TIP: For this step, as well as step 3, wear safety glasses, a face mask, and gloves to protect yourself from flying shards of tile. Broken ceramic tiles can be as sharp as glass.
Step 3: Scuff the glaze of the ceramic tile using an electric sander. Plan on spending some time on this step; it is important that the tile is no longer glossy once you are finished. If the glaze is not properly removed, the tub surround could detach from the tile over time. Clean the ceramic tile with a damp cloth to remove the resulting dust before continuing.
Step 4: Place the tub surround over the tile. Use a pencil to mark the location of the faucet, shower head, and any other obstructions. Make sure that the tub surround completely covers the ceramic tile; trace around the tub surround with a pencil to mark its location.
Step 5: Cut the holes for the faucet, handles, shower head, and any grab bars. Use a measuring tape to verify the location of each cut, then use a jig saw to make the necessary cuts.
TIP: When using a jig saw to cut a hole in the center of a material, try this trick. Drill into the area that is to be cut out with a screwdriver and a large bit. Then insert the jig saw blade into the resulting hole and make the necessary cut.
Step 6: Apply construction adhesive over the tile and within the perimeter of the outline of the tub surround. Stop applying construction adhesive ¼ inch from the edge of the perimeter to prevent overflow when the tub surround is installed.
Step 7: Push the tub surround into place, paying particular attention to the perimeter lines you created earlier. Press with your hand all over the surround, making sure that it is adhering to the tile underneath.
Step 8: Install all grab bars, shower heads, and faucet handles that were removed.
Step 9: Caulk around the perimeter of the tub surround and over any seams. Also caulk around any areas where water could work its way underneath the tub surround, such as around grab bars and faucet handles.