Remodeling Tips and Reviews

Installing a new tub

Installing a new tub

Jul 1, 2010

We’ve all seen the old dreary, sometimes horribly colored tubs of yesteryear.  The tubs that are made of cast iron and are low to the ground so that only children can comfortably use them. I have demolished dozens of these tubs and the options that are available today make it worth the trouble.

Lets talk about the demo. Demoing out a tub is not for the faint of heart. It is a dirty, difficult task that requires safety gear and muscle. First of all you need to prepare the area for demo by covering the floor and have lots of contractor bags to toss the tile and debris into. Gloves, and a mask are a good ideas as are safety glasses. You will want to tape up the drain if it is open so no debris goes into your sewer lines.  To begin you will need a crowbar and a hammer to remove the tile. Beating the tile with the hammer to get it started and then use the crowbar to chisel under the tile usually gets the job done. If you have an older house the tile may be set on a thick bed of mortar which is embedded in metal lathe. This complicates the job and adds several hours to the demo. The lathe is notorious for cutting arms and hands so make sure you have on long gloves. When the lather is present it is usually best to beat a large hole through it to the studs and then crack the mortar and tile around the perimeter. Then use a large heavy duty crow bar to force the lathe and tile off the wall in large pieces.  The lathe is usually just nailed to the studs so that is its weakest point.  Once all the tile and mortar have been remove and the studs are exposed it is time to get the tub out.

Old iron tubs weigh several hundred pounds and there really is no point in trying to remove them in one piece. The nice thing is that being made out of iron they are not terribly strong. Using a sledge hammer and ear plugs you can smash the tub in sections and remove it easily. Make sure the water is off and disconnect any drain overflow. The main drain will normally come out of the tub will a few gentle wacks of the sledge hammer to break it at that spot when the rest of the tub is out of the way. Be very careful with the iron pieces. The enamel coating on top  is very sharp and will cut you like glass.

Once the tub is out the valve and any re-framing that needs to be done can be accomplished, then the new tub is ready to go in. Make sure and inspect the old plumbing and replace or repair as needed. If the 2″ pipe is iron it is usually a good idea to cut it a few feet away from the tub and install PVC with a new catch that will perform better. This may be the time to call the plumber, if you don’t know how to cut iron and install new pipe ( hint: a reciprocating saw with an iron cutting bit and patience will get it done). Once the plumbing is done and the new valve is installed then the new tub can be moved into place. Most tubs require a long wall support for the tub to rest on. Make sure you properly measure and level this support for a smooth installation. Once in place it is time to install the hardibacker or green board.

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