Installing a bathtub may seem intimidating unless you have some experience in plumbing or are an experienced contractor. But it doesn’t have to be impossible – with the right attitude and some knowledge about plumbing, it could actually be quite simple for anyone to do the job themselves.
First, prepare the floor for the tub by patching with a suitable material. Afterwards, secure the flange of the new tub to the wall using roofing nails or exterior grade screws and flat washers.
1. Remove the old tub
Removing an old tub from your bathroom is a crucial step in installing a new bathtub. Not only does this save money on your project, but it requires the correct tools and preparation as well.
Before you begin, shut off the water supply to the tub. If your home doesn’t have a separate shutoff valve, you can turn off the main water in your house and open a lower-level faucet to release pressure.
Once the water has been turned off, locate and cut away any waste or overflow drain pipes at the bottom of the tub. A utility knife may help with this step if they’re buried beneath the floor.
Next, identify the type of tub you require. For instance, if the drain opening is on the left side of an alcove, then a left-drain tub is ideal.
2. Remove the drywall
Drywall is a widely-used building material, commonly used to construct walls, ceilings and other construction surfaces. Due to its density and weight, handling this dense material requires special safety equipment and training in order to do so safely.
To prevent damaging concealed wiring, plumbing or other building materials during drywall removal, turn off power before beginning to tear it away. Use a magnetic ball stud finder or mark and tape sensitive areas with masking tape.
If you need to remove a section of drywall without demolishing the entire wall, punch a line of holes high along the stud bays as handholds. Use a pry bar to loosen drywall around those points and work in that direction toward the studs.
Before beginning to access the drywall, first remove all trim moldings, baseboards and other attached materials. Using a flat bar or other prying tool, slowly work from nail to nail, breaking up any seams between moldings and surfaces.
3. Remove the drain
When taking out a drain, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. These may call for using an appropriate tool like a dumbbell or key that expands 360 degrees to assist with drains with cross bars.
If your tub has a screen, use a flathead screwdriver to pop it out and gain access to the drain fitting. If you’re uncertain how to take out the basket, contact an experienced plumber or look up your tub’s model number online for specific removal instructions.
Once the drain is unthread, use a plug wrench or large adjustable wrench to turn it counterclockwise. Inserting locking needle-nose pliers into the opening so they reach as far down as their jaws will go, clamp them onto metal crossbars and twist counterclockwise; alternatively, you could place a screwdriver between plier handles before turning them counterclockwise for extra torque.
4. Install the new tub
Before installing a new bathtub, take measurements and account for space limitations. Ultimately, select a tub that fits snugly within the designated space.
If your bathtub is on a concrete floor, simply follow the instructions for attaching it to studs on its side. Most tubs feature an easy-to-access flange at the top that can be drilled through and secured to studs with screws.
Tubs typically require a mortar bed beneath the flange, which should be applied prior to installation. This mortar provides rigid support and helps keep your tub from flexing when you stand on it.
Now, place the surround panels in their desired spaces, working from outer corners on end walls and from center on back wall (Photo 11). If you find that tub rim and surround panel sit more than 1/8 inch apart, rework leveling or shave off some wall studs to fit them tightly.
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