How to Remove a Bathtub (2023)

Removing the bathtub opens up space for fresh opportunities—a new bathtub, a shower conversion, or clearing the area for a vanity, countertop, or storage.

Unless you plan on a complete bathroom tear-out, removing the tub is a delicate process that preserves as much of the building materials as possible. With careful planning, it is possible to remove the tub while minimizing damage and mess.

Before You Begin

Removing a bathtub is a two-part process: first, detach the tub from plumbing and surrounding building materials; second, lift the bathtub out of place and move the tub from the bathroom.

Detach Tub and Remove Obstacles

Bathtubs are solidly attached to a number of places. Methodically removing these attachment points and obstacles will free up the tub so it can be lifted out. Attachments and obstacles might include:

  1. Bathtub drain
  2. Overflow drain
  3. Fixtures
  4. Caulk
  5. Tile, acrylic, or fiberglass surround
  6. Drywall or cement board
  7. Fasteners

Remove Bathtub

Lifting a standard alcove bathtub out of its enclosure presents unique spatial and weight challenges.

Once the plumbing has been detached and the tub surround has been removed, one end of lightweight acrylic or fiberglass tubs can be lifted until the tub is vertical or nearly vertical. In this position, the tub can easily be rotated out of the enclosure.

Steel or cast-iron bathtubs' weight, combined with the awkward lifting position, make these tubs more difficult to remove with this method. The tub can be lifted out by cutting away a couple of key wall studs and swinging one end of the tub outward.

Another method is to open one section of the wall and slide the tub straight out. Or you can break up the tub with a sledgehammer or cut it in half with an angle grinder.

Removing the tub from the bathroom without damaging walls, the toilet, or the countertop is best accomplished with a helper. But if you are alone, you also have the option of sliding the tub out on blankets or wheeling it out an appliance dolly.

Safety Considerations

Wear eye, breathing, and hearing protection when removing the bathtub, especially when breaking up or cutting up the tub. Shut off power to the area before breaking into the walls. When removing wall studs, make sure that this is not aload-bearing wall.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Pry bar
  • Flat-head and Phillips screwdrivers
  • Cordless drill
  • Drill bits and drivers
  • Drain plug wrench
  • Pliers
  • Caulk-stripping tool
  • Electric oscillating multi-tool
  • Sledgehammer
  • Personal protection: eyes, hearing, breathing

Materials

  • Garbage bags or other receptacle for removed items

Instructions

Detach Tub and Remove Obstacles

  1. Turn off Water

    Turn off the water supply to the bathtub. Intermediary controls might be located nearby behind an access panel. If there are none, locate the home's main water shut-off valve and turn it off.

  2. Remove Bathtub Drain

    First, remove the drain stopper. Next, turn a plug wrench or clamping needle-nose pliers counter-clockwise to remove the drain assembly. Completely remove the piece and clear out any remaining plumber's putty with your fingers.

  3. Remove Overflow Drain Grate

    With the flat-head or Phillips screwdriver, turn out the screw that holds the overflow drain grate to the front side of the bathtub.

  4. Remove Fixtures

    Unscrew the bathtub faucet by hand by turning it counter-clockwise out of the wall. Remove faucet handles by unscrewing the center screws. Some handles may have plates covering the screws which can be pried off with a flat-head screwdriver.

    Tip

    The bathtub faucet and controls usually are not attached to the bathtub. While they do not have to be removed, it's usually a good idea. This helps you avoid accidentally breaking them off when the tub is removed.

    (Video) How to Remove a Bathtub 🧐
  5. Peel out Caulk

    With a caulk-stripping tool or a screwdriver, scrape away all caulk between the bathtub and the wall surround.

  6. Remove Surround

    All bathtubs will have a waterproof surround made of tile or synthetic material. Surrounds extend over or against the bathtub's top integrated flange, effectively trapping the tub in place.

    Synthetic tub surrounds must entirely be removed. Use the prybar to peel them off. Start at the top or side of the tub surround.

    With tile surrounds that you wish to preserve, often just the top one or two rows of tile need to be removed. Remove sections of tile by grinding out the grout with an electric oscillating multi-tool fitted with a masonry blade, then prying off the tile with a pry bar or cold chisel.

  7. Remove Drywall or Cement Board

    If any drywall or cement board found beneath the tub surround acts as an obstacle to tub removal, it must be removed.

    The drywall or cement board may extend over the top integrated flange or it may butt directly against the top of the flange. In either case, the materials need to be fully or partially removed.

    Use the pry bar and cordless drill to remove these materials.

  8. Unscrew or Pull out Fasteners

    Nails or screws driven through the top integrated flange attach the bathtub to the wall studs. Pull out nails with the pry bar or the claw end of a hammer. Turn out screws with the drill.

    Tip

    For troublesome fasteners or just to save time, cut off fasteners with the multi-tool equipped with a metal-cutting blade.

  9. Extra Items

    Assess the tub for any other obstacle or attachment point. Sliding glass shower doors must be removed. Whirlpool tubs must be unplugged and all hoses detached or cut.

    Bathroom flooring that butts up against the bathtub's front apron should be removed now if you intend to remove it anyway. Otherwise, leave it in place.

    (Video) How to Remove a Bathtub

Remove Bathtub

  1. Break up Bathtub (Optional)

    If the bathtub will be sent to a landfill or its materials recycled, it's sometimes fastest to break or cut up the tub in place.

    Break up a cast-iron bathtub by hitting it with a sledgehammer. Start at the front edge or at the apron.

    An angle grinder fitted with a metal-cutting blade can cut through a metal bathtub, too. Make one cut, either widthwise or lengthwise. Push the two pieces together by a few inches, then remove them individually.

  2. Tilt Bathtub up to Vertical

    Light-weight bathtubs can be tilted upward from the end opposite the drain overflow. First, fit the hook end of the pry bar over the top of the flange. Then, lean over the tub, propping your free hand against the long wall behind the tub. Pull up on the pry bar.

    Once you have lifted the tub a few inches, quickly remove the pry bar and switch to using your hand. Keep pulling up until the tub is vertical. It helps to have an assistant control the far side of the tub so that it does not get caught on the overflow-and-waste pipe.

    Warning

    Once you have lifted up the tub a few inches, insert a two-by-four in the area between the wall and the tub. This provides a safety buffer for your hand in case the tub drops back down.

  3. Remove Studs

    Often, the tub will not have enough room to tilt upward due to studs or wall materials on the lifting side. You may need to remove horizontal two-by-fours at the level of the integrated flange. Or you may need to remove a vertical stud at the corner of the tub to help the tub swing out. If it is deemed necessary to remove any framing, it may be necessary to hire a professional to avoid any possible problems that might occur and any subsequent repairs needed thereafter.

    Tip

    Generally, the more wall space that you can free up, the better your chances of cleanly lifting the end of the tub.

  4. Loosen Tub Apron

    If the tub will not be saved, another trick with metal tubs is to bend the apron corner forward. Often, this will provide enough room to clear the wall and swing the tub out.

    Or, if you have enough space to reach behind the tub apron, metal supports can be unscrewed and removed. This loosens the tub apron and gives the tub more flexibility.

  5. Move Tub Out of Bathroom

    • Carry Tub: If you have an assistant, you can carry the bathtub out of the bathroom. One person at each end of the tub picks up the tub with gloves. Then, rotate the tub 90 degrees. This reduces the tub's width to between 15 and 18 inches so it will fit through the bathroom door.
    • Slide Tub: If the bathroom flooring will be replaced, you can slide the tub directly across it and out the door. Or, use thick blankets as padding to protect the floor and to help with sliding.
    • Wheel Tub: Heavy bathtubs can be moved with appliance dollies.
    Bathtub Weights
    Type of BathtubWeight
    Metal 60-inch alcove tub65 to 75 pounds
    Acrylic 60-inch alcove tub60 to 70 pounds
    Acrylic 60-inch whirlpool tub90 to 120 pounds
    Modern rolltop cast iron tub350 to 400 pounds
    Older cast iron bathtub400 pounds+
    (Video) How to Remove and Replace a Bathtub 🛁 | The Home Depot with @thisoldhouse
(Video) How to remove a bath

FAQs

Can I remove a bathtub myself? ›

Removing a bathtub and installing a new one is an approachable task for many. If you carefully prepare and work with a helper, you can complete this DIY project in one day.

Is it difficult to remove a bathtub? ›

Replacing an old bathtub with a new bathtub is a very difficult project. Much of the tile on the walls will be damaged during the removal. If the old tub is readily accessible, the project can move quickly. If you have to open a wall to remove the old tub and position the new tub, the task is much harder.

How do I completely remove a bathtub? ›

Here's what to do:
  1. Turn off the water to your bathroom.
  2. Locate the pipes that deliver water to your bathtub. ...
  3. Disconnect the tub drain using your adjustable wrench. ...
  4. Break away the bottom row of tiles that surround the tub, using a hammer and chisel. ...
  5. Insert a pry bar and pry the tub away from the wall.
Jun 2, 2011

What is the average cost to remove a bathtub? ›

On average, debris haul away can cost up to $200, clean-up can be $800 and bathtub removal ranges between $500 to $800.

Does removing tub hurt home value? ›

“There absolutely has to be at least one bathtub in any condo or home. When you sell, you're also selling a lifestyle and having no tub will hinder a sale to most buyers,” she says. Research backs up the anecdotal evidence.

What is the labor cost to remove and replace a bathtub? ›

The average rate for a general contractor is about $50 per hour. Considering the job could take up to 25 hours to complete, budget at least $1,250 for labor in addition to materials. A standard bathtub/shower combination averages $300 to $2,000 for materials.

How do you get out of a bathtub as a senior? ›

For seniors or people with disabilities, we recommend installing a rail or a grab bar. This way, there is an additional place where they can hold in order to get out of the bath safely and easily.

Do plumbers remove tubs? ›

Yes, among other services, plumbers do install and replace bathtubs. In addition to removing and installing your new bathtub, they will also connect the plumbing associated with the bathtub as well.

How much does it cost to remove a tub and install a walk in shower? ›

The Average Cost of Converting a Tub Into a Walk-In Shower

The installation and costs of converting a tub into a walk-in shower range between $5,997 and $11,950, with average coming in at $7,997. Although it may seem like a wide range for a simple project, many other factors contribute to the total cost.

Should there be drywall behind my bathtub? ›

Drywall on its own is not suitable for use in bathrooms because it is prone to absorbing moisture and thus losing structural integrity. Besides being structurally compromised, wet drywall can allow moisture into your house's framework and cause long-term damage to your home.

Can you replace a tub without damaging wall tile? ›

3 Answers from MyBuilder Bathroom Fitters

is possible but you would need to be very careful. You would need to break the silicone seal between the tiles and the bath, using a stanley knife of similar, and then ease the bath out very slowly.

Does converting tub to shower lower home value? ›

According to the National Association of Realtors, as long as the home has at least one bathtub, a tub-to-shower conversion shouldn't reduce resale value.

Is it worth it to convert tub to shower? ›

A tub to shower conversion is one of the very best things you can do to improve your bathroom, and your home as a whole. With this kind of upgrade, you will find that your bathroom is a lot more modern, more aesthetically pleasing, and easier to use as well, for all kinds of people who might live in the home with you.

How much does it cost to convert a tub to a walk in shower? ›

Wet-area renovations like a tub to shower conversions cost about $6,000 to $10,000, including materials and labor. Your project may cost more or less, but this average figure is a good one to keep in mind.

Is it OK to have a house without a bathtub? ›

Although used much less frequently than showers, bathtubs are still a standard of the American home. However, not everybody needs or wants a bathtub. During home remodels, many homeowners consider whether or not to keep a bathtub in their house.

Why do new homes not have bathtubs? ›

Bathtubs haven't gone away, but trends have shifted

However, most home design trends have a shelf-life, and jetted tubs were no exception. People soon came to realize that jets are a pain to clean, and large tubs require a ton of hot water to fill. Over time, many of these tubs became glorified storage bins.

Do buyers still want bathtubs? ›

Real estate professionals typically suggest that homeowners have at least one bathtub in the home for the highest resale value: a recent study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that over 50 percent of home buyers prefer a master bath with a bathtub and a shower as opposed to just a shower stall.

What happens if elderly don't shower? ›

At best, poor hygiene can result in minor body odor and an unkempt appearance. However, extreme changes in bathing habits can border on self-neglect, affect a senior's social life (and quality of life by extension), and even jeopardize their health.

How long can an elderly person go without a shower? ›

As people get older, they have less energy to get things done each day. Usually, personal hygiene (specifically bathing) is one of those things that gets neglected. So how often should an elderly bathe? To avoid any skin conditions or infections, a senior should bathe at least once or twice a week.

Why do elderly stop showering? ›

Perhaps the most common reason for elderly people to stop showering is fear of falling or injury. For individuals with decreased mobility, taking a shower can be a daunting prospect.

How many hours does it take to replace a bathtub? ›

Depending on your skill and knowledge level, anywhere from 3-4 hours to half a day, depending on the setup and layout of your bathroom.

Can you replace a bathtub in one day? ›

Premium quality acrylic tubs and walls are custom made to ensure a perfect watertight fit. They're installed right over your existing bath and wall in as little as one day.

Is it cheaper to resurface or replace a bathtub? ›

Is it cheaper to reglaze a tub or replace it? With an average replacement price higher than $5,000, it's definitely cheaper to reglaze a tub. However, it's important to keep in mind that reglazing isn't a permanent facelift, regardless of the type of tub.

What is better for seniors a tub or shower? ›

Showers may be preferable because they can provide a more efficient and thorough cleaning. The steady stream of water coming from overhead can make tasks like washing hair or the upper half of the torso and shoulders easier than when seated in a tub.

Do elderly people need a bath every day? ›

Showering or bathing too often can strip the skin of natural oils and dry out the skin. At times it can lead to itchy and flaky skin – which can cause infections. Therefore, it's okay for the elderly to just bathe once or twice a week.

How do you help elderly get in and out of tub? ›

One of the easiest and most cost effective fixes is to get a bath chair. There are chairs that sit in the tub and there are also chairs that extend over the side of the tub. These chairs allow the bather get in to the tub without ever getting up.

How much does it cost to remove an old bathtub and install a new one? ›

When it comes time to replace your bathtub, you can spend as little as $1,400 or you can find yourself shelling out more than $10,700. That's a wide range based on lots of different factors, but it shakes out to about $5,600 as the average cost to replace a bathtub.

Why are people getting rid of bathtubs? ›

Bathtubs haven't gone away, but trends have shifted

However, most home design trends have a shelf-life, and jetted tubs were no exception. People soon came to realize that jets are a pain to clean, and large tubs require a ton of hot water to fill. Over time, many of these tubs became glorified storage bins.

Is it OK to not have a bathtub in a house? ›

Although used much less frequently than showers, bathtubs are still a standard of the American home. However, not everybody needs or wants a bathtub. During home remodels, many homeowners consider whether or not to keep a bathtub in their house.

How long can an elderly person go without bathing? ›

As people get older, they have less energy to get things done each day. Usually, personal hygiene (specifically bathing) is one of those things that gets neglected. So how often should an elderly bathe? To avoid any skin conditions or infections, a senior should bathe at least once or twice a week.

How much does it cost to remove a tub and replace with walk in shower? ›

The Average Cost of Converting a Tub Into a Walk-In Shower

The installation and costs of converting a tub into a walk-in shower range between $5,997 and $11,950, with average coming in at $7,997. Although it may seem like a wide range for a simple project, many other factors contribute to the total cost.

Is it a big job to replace a bathtub? ›

Replacing a bathtub isn't usually considered an easy project because tubs can be heavy, and they are large and unwieldy. A plumber is usually necessary to make the water supply and drain connections to ensure they don't leak.

Videos

1. Jessie Murph - Drunk in the Bathtub - Lyrics
(Music Kos-kosan)
2. How To Remove A Bathtub
(Enduring Charm LLC)
3. How to Replace a Bathtub (Step By Step)
(Handyman Startup)
4. How to replace a bathtub. Step by step tub removal and new tub install. + Drain installation
(How To with Lech)
5. How to Remove a Bathtub Step by Step Process
(DIY School)
6. How to Remove a Fiberglass Bathtub and Surround -- by Home Repair Tutor
(Home Repair Tutor)
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