I'm getting ready to tile my bathroom floor and tub surround. Our house is older (about 45 years old) and the walls/floors aren't exactly perpendicular. With that in mind, I'm wondering if I should align the tile to be exactly level with the floor/tub or align them so they're exactly level with the wall side (and slant slightly against the base).

Apologies if this doesn't make sense. I'll try to get some pictures up but the difference isn't major here so it might not be noticeable in a wide angle picture.

  • 2
    What do you mean "if"? One of the basic principles of home improvement is that there's no such thing as a precise angle or a completely straight line... :-)
    – keshlam
    Dec 12, 2014 at 0:18
  • How inconsistent is it? Is it off around the tub surround too? Picture?
    – DMoore
    Dec 12, 2014 at 4:46

5 Answers 5


I think what you're saying is that the walls and the tub are not perpendicular and that you are going to tile the wall.

You want to know whether you should match a wall or the tub.

In situations like this my recommendation is usually to tile in a diamond pattern or to use smaller or subway or mosaic tiles such that long, contiguous grout lines are not obvious.

However, if you are going to have long contiguous grout lines I would start by leveling them to the tub and the ceiling, possibly splitting the difference. Consider that a grout line that get slightly wider or narrower as it progresses is less obvious than a tile line that slants upwards or downwards dramatically.


If it isn't too difficult, dry lay the length and width of the room with spacers to understand your best focal point. Usually the first full tile starts at the threshold, which customarily for a bathroom is marble.

Ideally, as you are planning on using the same tile vertically as well as on the floor, you can compromise on the spacing and use a ⅜" grout joint for uniformity.

Too avoid elongated runs of grout leading the eye to discern inconsistencies in homes of character, or those with walls and floors that aren't perpendicular, try one of the following patterns.

enter image description here


No matter the tile size, the enemy of your circumstances is the eye, however your approach to your solution should be tailored to your tile size. Lastly, avoid slivers of tile anywhere, by planning to split the difference.

Hope it helps.


Clarity in description would help.

With a floor that is not enclosed by parallel walls, the usual approach is to center the tiles (start from a chalk line in the center of the floor) so that there's a cut-tile on either side of the floor, and cut to fit the walls as they are. How that works out in reality is dependent on the size of both the tiles and the non-parallelism.

IMPE, some sort of diamond-blade cutoff tool beats the snot out of tile nippers, score and break, etc. for getting decent edge cuts.

  • Oh yes. My wife and I get great results from our Versa-cut. Way better and less messy than a wet saw. Dec 12, 2014 at 13:33

It's all aesthetics. Common strategy is to lay it out so that cut tiles and uneven lines are situated in less notable places that do not naturally catch the eye. An example would be to use cut tiles on both sides of a wall or floor to avoid a line of narrow-cut tiles, which looks bad.


I always plan my bathroom around the first row of tiles above the tub. Everything else plays off of that. These are the tiles that will be most noticeable and most susceptible to issues. I will always put whole piece vertically speaking in this first row. From there I work my way up, out, and out and down. If I notice that I am going to have a sliver at the top or it is greatly uneven I will do one of these things:

  • start slightly veering my grout lines to match ceiling
  • throw in a different style of tile so I don't have to use small pieces at the top (so if I have some large tiles my throw a couple rows of mosaics in)
  • I generally don't care if I have larger tiles that I have to slightly slant at the top. This never looks bad and really only the installer notices.
  • If the slant is really bad I will simply stop and cap the tiles a foot from the ceiling.

I have tiles A LOT of tubs and have never cut a tile vertically and generally all of my horizontals are hidden in the corners.

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