Removing a fiberglass bathtub can sound like a daunting undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether it’s part of a larger bathroom remodel or it needs to be replaced because it’s unsightly, gather your tools and follow these five steps. The result will be prime your bathroom for a much-needed bathtub replacement.
Step One: Cut off the water supply and remove shower door (if necessary) from the tub
First, locate the main water supply to your house and turn it off. This prevents flooding from a broken pipe or other unintended accident and eliminates the possibility of water damage. To remove the shower doors, lift them up out of their tracks. Look for screws inside the frame and remove them.
Cut any joint caulking away from where the wall and tub meet. Make sure when you do so, that you’re holding the knife parallel to the tub and wall. If you hold it perpendicular, you run the chance of accidentally cutting into the wall as well. This will make more work for you in the long run.
Gently pull the tracks away from the wall and tub. Use plastic scaper or even an old credit card to scrape away any caulk left behind on the tub.
Step Two: Closely analyze the bathtub surround
Before tackling the bathtub surround, take time to analyze it closely. Its proper removal can guard against extensive damage to the area behind it. Removing it isn’t usually difficult. However, because a surround is usually secured to the bathroom wall using adhesive and retaining clips, you’ll need to have a utility knife and something to cut the clips away before you begin. Start by locating the tub’s shutoff valves. These are usually found behind the shower wall via an access panel. Take the faucet handles off by removing their screws before removing the tub spout. Remove the set screw under the tub’s spout. Using an adjustable wrench, take the shower head off from its arm.
Step Three: Remove any unnecessary drywall around bathtub
Using a drywall hammer or other hand tool, make a small hole in the drywall around bathtub. Be sure to make a large enough hole that will allow you to grab the drywall with your gloved hand. Next, use a razor knife to cut the drywall down starting from its vertical and horizontal corners. At this point, the old drywall should be easy to remove by grasping it with your hands as you pull it away from the wall. Be sure to wear gloves during this step.
Once the drywall is gone, the old fasteners will need to be removed from the wall. Depending on the type of fasteners you have, you might need to use a nail puller or a screw gun. Carefully inspect both the insulation and framing for any signs of water damage or mold. If you see any evidence of either you’ll need to replace them before moving on to the next step. In addition, you need to track down the cause of the water damage or mold before you put a new fiberglass bathtub back in your bathroom. Doing so helps avoid any future problems.
Step Four: Use a Pry bar and Saw to loosen the bathtub surround tile
Using the right tools to loosen and remove the bathtub surround tile can make it easier to do so without breaking them. Not breaking the tiles means you can use them as a sample when looking for new materials. First, use a utility knife to cut through things like mortar, grout, paint and caulk that might be adhering to the tiles. Using the flat end of a pry bar — a mini pry bar might be a better choice for a bathtub remodel as it is much smaller than a regular size one — gently push it in between the tile and the wall. Take a hammer and gently tap the end of the pry bar to help it ease its way under the tiles as you wiggle it. In most cases, this technique will result in the removal of the tiles that are surrounding your bathtub.
In other cases, though, you might need to use a reciprocating saw to cut the tub away from the wall where it meets at the corners and move downward into the deck of the tub. Be sure to hold the saw at an angle that is fairly shallow to avoid any wiring that might be nearby.
If all else fails when removing tile, you could use the hammer to smash it out. Many people get carried away and wind up damaging the area near the bathtub. At the very least, using a hammer is likely to significantly increase the amount of cleanup you’ll need to do at the end of the project.
Step Five: Remove the pieces of Fiberglass Tub Surround
If your fiberglass tub surround has rivets that keep it attached to the wall, cut them away. In other cases, there might be nails holding the surround to the studs. If this is the case, use the claw end of a hammer to remove them.
Using a utility knife, run it between the wall and side edges before scoring the caulk line that runs between the bottom of the tub surround and the edge of the tub. As you grasp the surround at the top corner away from the plumbing, have a helper cut away any adhesive that’s behind it. Continue slowly pulling the surround away from the wall until it separates.
Bath Pro Refinishing provides a simple, quick and easy alternative to removing your old fiberglass bathtub. Save yourself time, money and frustration by choosing to refinish your fiberglass bathtub instead of replacing it and enjoy a five-year warranty against defects and workmanship. Contact them today for more information or for a quote.