Removing A Bathtub

by Darwin Hall

clawfoot tub

Replacing a bathtub or installing a new one is a major project that usually involves some framing, rough plumbing, tiling, putting in plumbing fixtures and flooring, and installing accessories.

Although bathtubs vary in size, shape, and basic materials, the techniques for installation are similar for all models.

Most manufacturers include instructions with the tub.

Old bathtubs were made with porcelain-ized cast iron, which is still a popular choice.

Later they were made with enameled steel, which was much cheaper and easier to handle, but not as durable.

Now tubs are available in acrylic and fiberglass-reinforced plastics.  Not only are the new plastics warmer and more comfortable to the touch, but they are inexpensive, lightweight, and are easier to fabricate into intricate shapes.

Some tubs can be ordered already equipped with pumps and jets for massage, ready to install.  One drawback is that these plastic tubs are vulnerable to scratches and dulling.

bathtub by the windowChoosing a bathtub.  In addition to style preferences and cost, consider available space when selecting a new bathtub.

If you are replacing an older tub, choose a new one that has the same dimensions and the same drain outlet (left or right side).

Most old and new tubs are 30 inches wide by 60 inches long, so matching the size should not be difficult.

You can always choose a different height, depending on the depth of water you prefer.

If you are installing a new tub altogether, there is a wide choice of sizes to fit whatever space is available, from large double tubs to square tubs that tuck into a corner.

See also:  Choosing A Tile For The Tub Surround Area

If you are buying a larger-than-standard size, be sure you can get the new tub into the bathroom.  To solve this problem, some tub and shower units come in separate sections.

Also consider the weight of the tub, especially if you must cut any joists for plumbing.

A final consideration is durability.  Some tub damage is difficult if not impossible to repair.

An inexpensive tub that is prone to chips, dents, scratches, or cracks may turn out to be an expensive investment in the long run if it has to be replaced.

Removing an Old Tub

Removing a built-in bathtub requires a considerable amount of work.  You will also have to demolish some finished wall surfaces.

First disconnect all the pipes.  If the tub is free-standing, just carry it away.

If it is built-in, strip away the tile or other wall material for a few inches around its rim to reveal the studs and framing.  Then, prying the tub up slightly, slide it away from the wall and carry it out.

If it is cast iron and you aren’t able to lug it away intact, smash it into pieces with a sledgehammer.

Watch the VideoWear eye and ear protection, gloves, and heavy clothing.  If a steel or fiberglass tub won’t fit through the doorway, consider whether removing the door and jamb trim will create enough room.  If not, cut the tub up with a reciprocating saw and a blade appropriate for the tub material.

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