One of the least favorite and most difficult home projects is how to install a bathtub. The large tub in a small space can make removal and installation a hassle. Couple that with the plumbing and sealing and you have yourself a huge undertaking.

It can be done, though, and if you have patience and determination, you can get it done in a relatively short amount of time. This article will cover the steps needed to remove the old tub and fixtures and how to install a bathtub.

Follow along, and you will be enjoying a relaxing bubble bath in no time.

Tools Needed

tools needed for the installation

Every job has tools that are needed. The right tool for the job is always the best choice. You don’t want to use a hammer when a screwdriver is needed. For tub installation and removal, you will need a few specialty pieces along with some standard ones.

Most of what you will need is brute strength, a helper or two and some wood skids. Two by fours work well for kids, and they don’t have to be perfect. Bathtubs are heavy, cumbersome and awkward. Replacing them takes a lot of time and patience.

Remember

You should also remember that when the original tub was installed there probably wasn’t anything else in the bathroom. The walls weren’t finished, the toilets and sinks weren’t’ there. You are going to have to remove and install a tub around these fixtures.

You may find it easier to remove the toilet or sink (or both) depending on how much room you have. It is always easier to measure prior to moving anything. If you need to remove doors, door jams, toilets or cabinets, you should do so before beginning tub removal.

Some of the tools and materials you will need are:

  • Measuring tape.
  • Plumbers Putty.
  • Screwdriver set.
  • Pliers.
  • Caulk Remover.
  • Pipe wrench.
  • Cement backer board (green board).
  • Mortar.
  • Faucet stem socket.
  • Tub and tile caulk.
  • Tile.
  • Ledger board.
  • Drywall screws.
  • Level.
  • Eye protection.
  • Gloves.

Depending on the type of tub you are installing (or removing) as well as any other work that needs to be done (removing doors or other fixtures) you may need other tools as well. If you are ever in doubt on what to do or how to proceed, you should call a plumber.

Installing a tub is one of the most difficult DIY projects in the home. Hiring a professional who knows how to deal with the fitting and the plumbing could save you hours of frustration and stress.

Removal of the Old Tub

Long before you ever begin this project you need to decide which tub you will purchase as a replacement. You need to measure your bathroom as well as the new tub. You should ensure that the new tub will fit and that the drains are on the same side.

If you end up with a new bathtub that has an opposite drain, you will also need to adjust the plumbing. This can be avoided by double checking everything prior to purchase and project start.

Step By Step

turn off the water supply

Once you have everything double checked and are ready to begin, the first step is to turn off the water supply to the tub and drain the lines. You can drain the lines by turning on a faucet or opening a line below the tub level.

Remove the drain stopper and unscrew the drain from the tub. You will then remove all other plumbing from the tub surface and tub side plumbing. This will include the drain stopper and hot, cold and shower knobs (if equipped).

Replace All The Faucet Stems

replace the faucets stem

Because you are doing extensive work in the area, it is advised also to replace all of the faucet stems while you are here. This will prevent you having to do more work later if an older one decides to wear out.

Once all the faucets are removed back to the supply lines, the drain is removed, and the caulking stripped, you will need to remove a course of tile. Take care to protect your eyes while removing the tile.

Using the wooden skids for leverage and support, pry the old tub out of position and remove from the bathroom. Unless you plan on saving the tub, you can cut the tub into pieces (after removal from the wall and supports) to help the process of getting it out of the house.

The New Tub

new bathtub

The most difficult task will be getting the new tub into position. Each part of the process should be done with care and patience to ensure there is no damage or personal injury. If space is an issue, you may need to maneuver small increments at a time.

Before placing the tub into position, you need to prepare the wall surface and the mounting area. Use a bath rated green board or cement backer board. Normal drywall cannot be used as it will absorb the moisture from the bathroom causing mold and more work down the road.

How To Install A Bathtub

Installing a bathtub

Push the tub into place and mark the top of the flange with a pencil. Pull the tub back and make another mark about one inch below the first marks. This is where the ledger board will go.

Make sure the ledger is level and screw it to the wall studs. Repeat for all ends where the tub will rest against the wall.

Each new tub will be slightly different. Ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the overflow and drain pipes. Be sure to use plumbers putty on the flanges and Teflon tape on the threads to ensure a sealed final fit and less chance of leaking.

Install the shoe

The overflow pipe, install the shoe, and the drain making sure all connections are secure and solid.

Mix the mortar according to the instructions on the side of the pail. You will need enough to cover the subfloor below the tub with about two inches. Once mixed, spread the mortar around the subfloor and put the tub in place.

Check for level and use wooden shims under the feet of the tub as needed. Once the tub is level and set, secure it to the wall with the wall flanges.

Attach the drain to the tub, securing the drain cover in place. Make sure that all plumbing lines up and your supports are solid. Your tub should look more finished now and in position without moving, rocking or wobbling.

Finishing Up

turn on the faucets

The next step is to connect the faucets. Using new stems, and if you like, new faucet pieces, handles, and necks, replace all the faucet materials and secure using the screwdriver and pliers as needed.

If you had to remove any other fixtures now is the time to replace them. Using the tub access panel (usually in the adjacent room) ensure the drain, overflow and shoe are set, secure and sealed.

Finalize Your Installation

finishing installation

Restore the water supply to the tub and check for leaks. Turn the cold and hot water on and check again, for leaks. Make sure the drain removes the water, and the shoe doesn’t leak when the tub is emptying.

Assuming everything is dry and working properly you can close the access panel and finalize your installation.

You will need to tile the course you removed earlier. You will also need to caulk the tub and finish the installation and water sealing. Make sure you put a solid bead of caulk around all tub surfaces where it contacts the tile, the wall, the floor as well as around the fixtures and faucet.

In Conclusion

Installing a new tub is a cumbersome and difficult project. There are a lot of places that need special attention that isn’t easily accessible. Most homes will have some form of access panel to get to the immediate plumbing for the faucet and drain. However, the shoe and seating can be difficult to get to.

Removal of the old tub should be done with care and assistance from others. Unless it is a plastic tub, the weight alone could cause injury if you try to do it alone. When inserting the new tub, you may have to slide and maneuver it into position. However, you should keep in mind that you will need to pull it back as well as turn it on its side to attach all the parts and the install the ledger board.

Asks For Assistance

If you don’t have the assistance, you should wait until you do, or hire a professional to complete the installation. If you have any plumbing experience and can manage the tub with the help of a friend or relative, the entire process should only take a day or two.

You may have to remove toilets, sinks, and cabinets to get the new tub into place, though. Careful measurements and precautions should be taken prior to learning how to install a bathtub.

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