10 Ideas for Bathtub Surrounds

White subway tiles surrounding bath tub

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

 A bathtub surround is a vertical surface material that protects the walls just above a bathtub or bathtub/shower unit. Surrounds can be constructed in many styles, ranging from a single row of ceramic tile that serves as a kind of backsplash around the tub, to fully covered walls that encase the three sides of a bathtub or shower alcove. In some bathrooms, the surround can include virtually all wall surfaces. 

Although typically made of ceramic tile, other materials can also be used for bathtub surrounds, including sheets of acrylic or polyester, or sheets of solid-surface material. 

  • 01 of 10

    Elegant Italian Tile Backsplash

    Tub surround with columns
    Majestic Home Improvements LLC

    In this elegant Italian-influenced bathroom, a drop-in soaking tub is set into a ceramic tile deck that extends up the wall in a surround consisting of a single row of large tiles. A decorative tile accent row tops the installation.

    In a relaxation tub such as this one, a tub surround does not need to cover more than about 12 inches of the wall. A bathtub with a shower, however, would require a much more extensive surround. 

    In the right hands, tub surrounds can become works of art. This bathroom and those that follow are the work of Justin Parker, of Majestic Tile in Virginia Beach, Virginia. 

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  • 02 of 10

    Black Granite Surround and Countertop

    Tub surround in black marble
    Majestic Home Improvements LLC

    This elegant bathtub surround incorporates a dream feature for many homeowners: space for linens, reading materials, or whatever. Here, the tub surround is made from the same material as the countertop—in this case, granite tile. 

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  • 03 of 10

    Ceramic Tile Walls With Listello

    Dark tile tub
    Majestic Home Improvements LLC

    Here, a bathtub surround of dark ceramic tile is enlivened by the addition of a decorative band (listello) made from diamond-shaped tiles in complementary colors. This surround contains a recessed alcove backed with mosaic tile, used to hold soaps and other bath materials.

    Combination tub/showers generally require surrounds that cover large areas of the walls to protect against water. 

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  • 04 of 10

    Marble-Look Porcelain Tile

    Light colored tile
    Majestic Home Improvements LLC

    Modern porcelains—a form of glazed ceramic tile made from fine clays fired at high temperatures—can be manufactured to look remarkably similar to natural stone such as marble, as in this example. A porcelain-tile surround costs a fraction of what natural stone costs. 

    Porcelain tile can even mimic wood or metal, which could make for a truly unique look for a bathtub surround. 

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  • 05 of 10

    Simple Ceramic Tile Backsplash

    Brown colored tile
    Majestic Home Improvements LLC

    In a bathtub with no shower, a surround can be a simple row of ceramic tile that serves the function of a backsplash. Here, the single row of tiles used for the surround is the same material used to enclose the bathtub deck. Note the narrow row of bullnose tiles that edge the top of the surround. 

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  • 06 of 10

    Art Deco Treatment

    Marble tile around bath
    Majestic Home Improvements LLC

    Here, large marble tiles and a narrow listello of diamond-shaped tiles make for a very stylish deco-style tub/shower surround. The black and white color scheme is a very common art-deco look, emphasized by the transition from a stack-bond pattern for the lower wall portion to a diagonal pattern for the top half of the wall. 

    Note how the surround isn't limited to just the tub/shower, but instead wraps around the entire bathroom.

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  • 07 of 10

    Subway Tile

    Subway tile around bath
    Majestic Home Improvements LLC

    This surround treatment uses classic 3 x 6-inch horizontal subway tile applied in the classic running bond pattern, which gives any bathroom an instant 1920s vibe. The black and white color scheme is a favorite for subway tile installations. This bathroom is still being finished—notice the tile spacers still in place prior to grouting. 

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  • 08 of 10

    Full-Room Surround With Shelf

    Light colored tile
    Majestic Home Improvements LLC

    A small bathroom with limited wall space makes it possible to make extensive use of expensive, top-quality materials. Here, the surround comprises the entire back wall and both side walls of the bathroom, covered with an elegant, high-end ceramic tile. The walls have been constructed with a ledge shelf just under the window—an especially nice touch in a small bathroom. 

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  • 09 of 10

    Trimmed Tiles With Bullnose

    Trimmed tiles around tub
    Majestic Home Improvements LLC

    This bathtub surround isn't as basic as it first seems. A single row of full-size tile is given a spin by the addition of a narrow band of cut tiles below. A band of bullnose trim tiles edge the top of the surround and are miter-cut to continue down the wall along the edge of the tub.

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  • 10 of 10

    Custom-Cut Tile

    Black tile around bathtub
    Majestic Home Improvements LLC

    Here, an oddly-shaped bathtub gets a surround made from custom-cut tiles that cover the deck and extend up the wall. Such extensive tile work can be complicated for a DIYer who is not experienced in tile work. It requires a lot of cutting that is best done with a wet saw. But done properly, it can create a very sophisticated, luxurious look. 

  • What is a tub surround?

    A tub surround covers the walls around the bathtub or the shower and protects them from water and moisture, plus adds a decorating flair and color to the bathroom.

  • What type of material can tub surrounds be made from?

    Tub surrounds can be made from acrylic, fiberglass, ceramic or porcelain tile, and marble.

  • How much does a tub surround cost?

    The cost for a tub surround will vary depending on the type of material used. It can run anywhere from $400 up to $1,000 or more.