Removing and replacing a bathtub is not a DIY project that many homeowners would think to take on themselves. However, with the right tools and a capable helper, many people can complete this task without professional assistance. We’re posting this step-by-step tutorial on how to remove and replace a bathtub in hopes to help you with the process.
Note: Each bathtub and bathroom is different. To remove and install a bathtub in your bathroom, more materials than what is listed above may be necessary.
Shut off the water to the house and turn on faucets in the lower levels of the house to drain the water supply lines.
Remove the hardware from the tub, including the drain flange and overflow cover. The method you use to remove your tub’s hardware will depend on the type of hardware on your particular tub, but there are special tools to remove drain flanges. For more information, check out this step-by-step tutorial for removing drain flanges.
Disconnect the drain pipe from the underside of the tub. You will either need to gain access to this point through an access panel in the wall (if there is one) or from a point beneath the floor, like a basement or crawl space.
Use a drywall saw to cut a straight line through the drywall, 6 inches above the tub, and remove the entire section of the wall that falls below what line. This will expose the inside of the wall in the space directly above the bathtub, allowing you to remove the nails or screws that attach the tub to the studs in the wall.
Use a utility knife to cut through the caulking that connects the tub to the floor.
Remove the tub. Depending on the size and dimensions of the tub, you may need to remove other fixtures from the room, if you intend to remove the tub in one whole piece. Cast iron tubs are too heavy to realistically remove in one piece and should be broken down in the bathroom, using a sledge hammer. Wear safety goggles and ear protection if you plan to break up the tub in the bathroom. To see this process in action, check out this YouTube video.
Purchase a tub that fits in the remaining hole. The tub should have the drain hole oriented on the proper side of the bathtub for your bathroom, unless you plan to relocate the existing plumbing.
Remove the tub from the box and position the new tub into the hole. If you’re having a hard time moving the tub into and out of the spot in your bathroom, place a couple 4×1 boards placed on the floor like skids, and slide the tub into place. Use shims to level the tub. Once this is done, mark the top edge of the tub on the studs of the wall using a pencil, then remove the tub from the space.
Attach the ledger board. The ledger board is a horizontal 2×4 board that is attached to the studs in the wall. The ledger board runs along the long side of the tub, just beneath the ledge. To install the ledger board in the right location, you’ll need to measure the difference in height between the top of the ledge and the bottom of the ledge, then install the ledger board at a height that will fall just beneath the bottom of the ledge when it’s installed. Use the markings you made on the studs in step 8 as a reference to decide the correct position of the ledger board.
Turn the new bathtub on its side to install the drain according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use plumber’s putty to secure the drain to the hole in the tub. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the overflow valve and cover plate.
Put the tub back in its spot so that the drain pipe and overflow pipe line up with the pre-existing plumbing, and the ledge is resting on the ledger board you installed on the wall.
Attach the tub to the pre-existing plumbing. To see an example of how this is done, take a look at the YouTube video below.
If you’re thinking about replacing your bathtub, there are a variety of resources online that are worth checking out. We like this comprehensive tutorial because it includes a video for each step of the way. If you have any questions regarding the plumbing of your tub, residents of the Pittsburgh area can contact an expert at Terry’s Plumbing. We’re here to help!