A Quick Guide to Installing an Acrylic Bathtub/Shower

If you cringe at the thought of allowing someone else to install your beautiful new bathtub/shower combo and you are good with tools, this guide is for you.

Before the big installation day, go down into your basement or crawl space and have a look at the plumbing and water lines that go to your existing tub. Check the size and type of lines, as well as the age, quality and location of the plumbing and water lines. The hot and cold water lines will more than likely be 1/2 inch copper and your plumbing should be between 2 and 3 inch abs pipe.

Acrylic Bathtub Shower combo
Acrylic Bathtubs – image by Reymilyn Calma

Some old tubs have copper or brass plumbing coming from the drain. If yours does, this will have to be replaced with abs pipe of the proper size.

The new bathtub or shower will probably not line up exactly with the location of all the existing connections, so be prepared to solder the copper water lines and have abs cement on hand to pipe in the new plumbing. If you are not comfortable soldering, a plumber can be called in for this step.

Materials required

Every installation is different, so there is no one generic material list for every situation, however there are some basic materials that you will need.

  • A full day. Be prepared to put in long hours on the day of installation. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned.
  • A helping hand. Everything goes better with help.
  • Drinking water. As your water supply will have to be shut off for the duration of the installation, it is prudent to have some water on hand for drinking or washing your hands.
  • A new shower or bathtub.
  • A new shower head, faucet and tap valve. These mostly come in a kit together. Any brand is good, however I use Moen as it is guaranteed for life.
  • A new shower or tub drain and tub overflow of the proper size.
  • A new trap and the necessary fittings to connect the drain and the overflow down to the trap and into your sewer line.
  • New copper lines of the proper size and all the fittings you think you will need. Every situation is different.
  • Tools. Soldering equipment, abs cement, pry bars, wrenches, pipe cutters, hack saws, drills, hammers, nails, screws, saws, hole saws, 2x4s for framing, have it all available.

Removing Your Old Bathtub

Removing your old bathtub should be relatively easy compared to installing the new one.

How to Remove a Bathtub Step by Step Process
  1. Cut all the old cocking around the tub and shower surround.
  2. Remove all shower handles, taps and shower heads from the tub.
  3. Turn off your water supply and drain the lines.
  4. Remove the drain and plumbing from the bottom of the tub.
  5. Expose the screws or nails holding the tub in place and remove them.
  6. Use pry bars and hammers to pry the old tub out of place.
  7. Once the bathtub is out, inspect the floor and walls for any sign of water damage or mold.
  8. Remove any damaged wood or drywall.The floor must be sturdy and level so the new tub drains properly.

Installing Your New Bathtub or Shower

Read your instructions. Most new tubs come with instructions from the manufacture, giving you the sizes and dimensions you will need to frame in your new tub. Frame up the walls to the exact specifications provided by the manufacture, making sure that everything is square and level. This will take the majority or your time, a good job now will pay off tenfold in the long run.

Once the frame is built, fit your bathtub into the frame, if it is a three piece, attach all three pieces together, making sure that you run a bead of cocking along every seam before you bolt them together.

Put the tub in place, noting the exact location of the drain holes and water hook ups. You will have to drill the tub for the shower head, tap and faucet fixtures with the proper size hole saw. Refer to the directions that came with the faucet.

How To Install A Bathtub And Shower Wall Set!

Push the tub back out of the frame and solder your water lines into the proper location. Once that is complete, push the tub back into place, attach the water valve and turn on your water supply, checking every joint for leaks.

Screw the tub into the frame and plumb in the drain pipe and overflow down into the sewer line. Attach all the faucet and shower fixtures and fill up the tub to the overflow valve, checking for leaks as you let the water down the drain. Cock along the bottom of the tub and along the sides, to prevent water from leaking underneath your new bathtub.

In Conclusion

Installing a tub is not an easy process. It requires a lot of work and planning but once complete it is all worth the time and effort you put in. Not only does it look beautiful, it also boosts the value of your home and will pay off in the long run should you decide to sell. Congratulations, your tub is installed!