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Can I Install A Bathtub Myself?

13 April

When it comes to bathroom remodelling jobs such as faucet and flooring replacements, homeowners tend to go the DIY way.

But installing a replacement bathtub while keeping the rest of the plumbing intact is a more intricate and time-consuming project. Even a slight mistake can result in improper levelling of the tub or might even damage plumbing fixtures or pipes.

In light of this, many people find the job risky and entrust it to a plumber. However, here’s the accurate picture: if you follow each step in the procedure meticulously without getting bogged down, you can pull it off quite well.

That’s why we’re here to help you out with a simplified approach to the procedure. So, without further ado, let’s get straight to the deets.

Factors To Consider

At the start, we’d like to give you a heads-up of some crucial factors you need to consider about the task as a whole:

  • The width of the bathroom door
  • Your familiarity with basic plumbing, installation, and framing methods
  • Condition of the plumbing and flooring

Knowing The Basics

As evident from above, you need to know some basics about the installation procedure and replacing some existing parts. So, let’s take you through all these essential know-hows one by one.

Installing New Bathtub In Bathroom

1. Initial Questions

Notably, finding the answer to some preliminary questions will simplify the process.

The first thing to determine is whether the existing bathtub and its replacement will comfortably fit through the bathroom door. Naturally, if the width of the doorway is smaller, you will have to remove the door frame and cut a larger space out of the wall to ensure that the tubs fit through.

It’s also essential to figure out the space you have in the bathroom. After all, you’ll need to maneuver around for accessing different plumbing fixtures during the installation. It may be necessary to take out the sink and/or toilet from some bathrooms to slide the tub.

Thirdly, you need to make sure the floors in the space are level. Note that you might need to level bathroom floors in older homes to ensure an ideal fit devoid of any rocking and cracking of the bathtub.

2. Replacement Bathtub Material

After you have found out the answers to the above questions and made the preliminary preparations, it’s time to decide on the material you’ll need.

An essential consideration in this regard is the material of the existing bathtub, as that will determine whether you can handle the job alone. Units made of materials such as cast iron are pretty heavy and hence more difficult to displace.

Additionally, in the case of a bathtub that’s part of a one-piece unit, you’ll need to break it into several pieces to take it out. That’s why you might need to rope in another person for this. One-pieces are practically impossible to fit in existing bathrooms and are more suitable for new constructions.

Next, you’ll have to determine the ideal material for the replacement unit. Like other plumbing fixtures, bathtubs are available in various materials, each with advantages and disadvantages.

While acrylic and fibreglass bathtubs are used in most homes as they’re lightweight and easy to handle, those made from enamelled steel and cast iron are sturdier but much heavier.

3. Installation Needs

Now, you’ll need to figure out some essentials of the replacement tub and the surrounding fixtures as that will help complete the installation smoothly.

a) Placement Of The Drain

While purchasing a bathtub, keep in mind that its drain should be on the same side as the plumbing in your bathroom, ensuring you don’t have to replumb the unit for the installation.

b) Size Of The Tub

The rule of thumb in this regard is to buy a tub of the same size as the existing one. That’s because even for a difference of as little as ¼ inch, you may have to adjust the walls to ensure the replacement tub fits perfectly.

For such adjustments, you can use furring strips or thinner cement boards. But it’s best to avoid such possibilities by making the measurements carefully.

c) Reframing

After you’ve removed the old tub, you’re likely to uncover some water damage. That’s because mould, mildew, and water can affect the walls and underlayment due to continuous leakage from caulk lines.

So, be ready to replace some, if not all, of the insulation and underlayment on the floors and walls with new insulation, waterproof plastic sheets, and cement boards.

Instructions For Installation

Once you have purchased the replacement tub and made all the other preparations discussed above, you can begin installing. Here’s how you should go about the procedure:

Putting Feet On New Bathrub

Step 1

Access the pipes to turn the water supply off and remove the overflow and waste drains. You might have to bore a hole in the wall adjacent to the unit or create access through the floor.

Step 2

Next, you must remove the surrounds and caulking of the old tub and disconnect its flange from the studs on the wall. You can tilt the tub on its side to facilitate easy removal.

Step 3

Following this, level the floor as required and place the replacement unit to mark the height of the flange. Then pull the tub out of that space.

Step 4

Now, attach some ledger boards based on the flange height. Note that the tub will “rest” on these boards.

Step 5

Proceed by dry fitting the overflow and waste drains and the drain shoe, keeping the replacement on its side. Secure the joints using a sealant.

Step 6

Now is when you’ll have to install the tub by sliding it carefully to sit on the ledge board. After that’s done, screw it tightly to the studs.

Here, you should know that some units must be placed on mortar beds according to the manufacturer’s instructions. That’s why you’ll have to prepare one for such tubs before installing them.

Step 7

Connect the drains to the pipes through the access hole and reattach the faucet plumbing. Plus, you must replace leaking, broken, or worn parts.

And once all the sealant used for the connections has dried up, test the tub for leaks by filling it with water. After that, you’ll have to fix them as necessary.

Step 8

The final step will be to replace the tub surrounds with tiles or panels and seal the gaps using a silicone sealant. Remember not to miss the joint between the tub and the floor. 

DIY: Installing A Bathtub

That was all about the dos and don’ts of installing a bathtub on your own. By making appropriate preparations and choosing the right replacement tub for your needs, you’ll be able to get through the job smoothly.

Just make sure you have all the tools and materials ready when starting. If you have any other queries on the topic, please reach out to us!

Till next time, take care!