Bonus Bathtub Shelf

bath shelf with hi-macs surface When we renovated our bathroom recently, it included moving the tub to increase the headroom under a sloped ceiling. Since were we using the same length of bathtub, we had to deal with the space left at the end of the tub.

Rather than just fill the whole thing in, we decided to use the space to our advantage and add a shelf for shampoo bottles and other shower and bath supplies.


After consulting the plumber, we determined we could safely move the tub 6″ away from the sloped wall without disturbing the existing cast iron tub drain and stack. Even that 6″ distance makes a big difference to a six-footer like me.

The height and size of the shelf was driven by the tiles. We had decided on 6″ x 6″ tiles for the shower walls so I planned the shelf height at about 5 1/2″ above the top edge of the tub – just slightly less than a full tile. This tile line is consistent around the entire bathtub area.


Once the demolition was complete and the insulation installed, the next step was to frame in the space for the tub. I used 2 x 6 for framing and built a short “wall” that was 5″ higher than the tub.

My plan was to use DenShield backer board for the tub area which is 1/2″ thick, so that was calculated into the overall height of the framing.end wall and tub installed tub area and shelf framing

The end wall which runs from the floor up to the sloped ceiling was added next. It’s just two – 2 x 6 studs with a 1/2″ plywood spacer between them which made a typical 4 1/2″ thick wall once the sheathing was added to both sides.

The tub framing was nailed to the existing studs and I was fortunate enough to have a roof rafter in just the right place to give me something to nail the end wall to. The house was framed with full dimension rough lumber and I had to add furring strips and shims to square up the shower area prior to installing the tile backer. But that’s another story.

Backer board and drywall

shelf was installed before surrounding tiles Once the tub was in place and insulation finished, I installed the tile backer throughout the shower area and put regular drywall on the outside face of the end wall. I planned the installation so the horizontal shelf backer extends over the vertical piece below and the wall backers overhang the edges of the shelf sides and back.

I used a couple of cedar shims under the shelf backer to give it a very slight tilt towards the tub so any water would run off the front instead collecting at the back.

Shelf material

My original intention was to put tiles on the shelf surface itself but decided in the end to use a 1/2” thick solid surface material called HI-MACS. You could also use granite, Corian or any other waterproof “stone” or tile material.

Once the backer was installed I measured the space, allowing for the overhang at the front to clear the vertical tiles and mortar bed and a small radius on the exposed front corner. I emailed a dimensioned drawing to the supplier and they ordered the piece for me.

Tile installation

rounded edge tiles ease the corner transition The full enclosure was tiled, leaving the tiles immediately next to the shelf until last. The HI-MACS shelf was installed using thinset mortar, just like laying tile. I then cut and installed the row of tiles between the shelf and the tub deck. The wall tiles were installed after the shelf so that any water dripping down would hit the sloped shelf and run off into the tub.

I didn’t want any exposed or sharp tile edges so I used 2″ x 6″ edge tiles on the narrow edge of the end wall. The roundover edges are flush to the face of the tiles on the shelf side of the 6″ wall, making a nice rounded corner. The outer row of edge tiles is a continuation of the edging that caps off the entire tiled shower area.

After the mortar set, the tiles were grouted and the joints between the shelf and the surrounding tiles were caulked.


bath tub shelf under sloped ceiling
The lower part of the room has bead board which stops just shy of the outside corner capped with a small chair rail.

I made a corner moulding out of 3/4″ x 7/8″ pine with a rabbet cut in the back shallow enough to keep the moulding proud of both the tile and the bead board and attached it with panel adhesive. The joint between the tile and moulding is sealed with caulk to protect it from any potential moisture.

We’re very happy with how it turned out and it makes an attractive and useful addition to our new bathroom.

Related posts for our Bathroom Renovation

Tiling a Sloped Shower Wall

Do I need “Ditra” under Floor Tiles

Plumbing Access Camouflage

MDF Baseboard Radiator Cover

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