Because bathtubs are such an essential part of most bathrooms, it’s no surprise they get plenty of use. But all those showers and baths add up, and eventually, you may need to replace your tub with a new one. Fortunately, installing a bathtub is a relatively easy option, especially if you’re replacing an existing tub. Just be sure to set aside at least a day or two for the project and have help on hand for heavy lifting. Use this guide to walk you through the steps of installing a new tub in your home.
Removing an Existing Bathtub
Take your old tub out before you go to purchase a new one. By doing so, you’ll be able to look for any potential issues you need to address before installing the new tub. In addition, you’ll want to create space in your home by having the old bathtub discarded before you bring the new one inside.
Before you remove the existing bathtub, shut off the water supply to your tub. If a specific cutoff valve for the bathroom you’re working in is not available, shut off the entire home’s water supply for this step. Then, open a valve on a lower level of the home to drain any pressure in the lines.
Next, you’ll need to remove the tub’s drain flange and overflow valve cover. In most cases, these components can be easily unscrewed using typical household tools. Then, disconnect the drain using channel lock pliers. You may need to access the drain from behind the wall next to the tub, or through the floor below the bathroom.
Finally, pull the tub away from the wall by cutting through the drywall next the top edge. You’ll need a drywall saw to do this. Once you can access the edges of the tub, remove any screws, nails, or caulk holding it in place before lifting it out.
Selecting a New Bathtub
Now that you’ve removed the old bathtub, it’s time to purchase a new one. Before picking one out, carefully measure the available space where your previous bathtub used to be. In addition, be sure to pick a tub with the drain on the correct side so it lines up with your existing drain. Tubs will be sold as right-hand or left-hand drains based on the orientation of the drain when standing at the open side of the tub.
If your new bathtub will not line up with the existing plumbing, you may need to cut and reposition some pieces to get everything correctly lined up. In addition, cement backerboard made be required underneath the bathtub to prevent mold issues because of moisture exposure.
How to Install a Bathtub
1. Prep the Plumbing
Once you have the bathtub back home, you can begin by installing the new tub drain flange and overflow valve cover, using plumber’s putty to prevent leaks and to get a good seal. Then, you can turn the tub on its side to attach the overflown drain. The manufacturer’s instructions will detail how this drain should be attached depending on your specific tub model. Once it is in place, you can connect the overflow drain to the main drainpipe with a tee.
You can also place cardboard pieces in and around the tub to prevent damage to its surface. The tub can be difficult to maneuver, so this strategy offers an easy way to protect your bathtub before it’s fully installed.
2. Attach the Ledger Boards
Next, it’s time to install the ledger boards. These are wooden boards that are attached to the walls to support the flange of the tub. The manufacturer’s instructions will provide the height at which to install these boards. Mark this height carefully on the wall all the way around the edge of the tub.
Your tub’s weight will rest on these boards, so it’s important they are screwed into the studs of your walls using durable deck screws. This provides adequate support to keep your tub in place, even when it’s full of water.
3. Insert the Tub
Once the ledger boards have been attached, it’s time to put the tub in place. Carefully lower the tub with the help of at least one other person. If you placed cardboard around the tub for added protection, move the pieces away as needed to get the tub into place.
Once the tub is resting on the ledger boards, use a level to check its positioning. Be sure to place the level on the top of the tub. The bottom is usually sloped to assist in proper drainage, so you’ll get an inaccurate reading if you place the level there.
If necessary, make adjustments to the ledger boards to get the tub level. Then, you can insert the screws to mount the tub. Roofing nails or stainless-steel screws are the best choices for this step.
Once the tub is securely in place, reconnect the drain from the new tub to the rough-in drain outlet. Make sure the pipes are connected snugly, but be careful not to over tighten them.
4. Finish the Wall
Your tub is now in place, but you’ll need to add some finishing touches to get your bathroom in shape again. Finish off holes in the wall with new drywall and paint. Add caulk where the tub and the floor meet; then reinstall baseboards around the bottom edge of the tub. You may also want to install a tile shower surround or other decorative features to finish off the new tub.
Let the Finished Project Soak In
If you’ve been eager to replace your old, worn-out bathtub, this guide is just what you need to get a jump-start on this DIY project. Be sure to get assistance from another handy individual while you work on this project. While some parts can be completed on your own, even a lightweight tub needs to be moved very carefully to avoid damage to the tub itself or to the drain components. Once you have the new one in place, you can enjoy the luxurious feeling of showers and baths in a sparkling new tub.