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What is the Process for Replacing a Bathtub?

Updated on March 7, 2017

Many years ago, a comedy group had a silly skit of a children’s show about the two or three steps needed to do things like building a box girder bridge or curing the world of all known diseases. Sometimes home improvement websites and big box stores make home tasks sound just as ridiculously easy. Replacing a bathtub, for example, really does not come down to “take out the old tub and put in a brand new one,” despite what some websites say.

What’s Really Involved in Replacing a Bathtub?

For most homeowners, replacing a bathtub is not a simple task. If you are intent on removing and replacing your tub, you have to truly commit. The first step is to gather the right tools:

  • Safety goggles and gloves;

  • A keyhole saw, reciprocating saw, hammer and sledgehammer;

  • Slip-joint pliers, shower stem socket wrench, adjustable wrench and tub drain removal wrench;

  • Pry bar;

  • Screwdrivers.

Make Sure You Have the Right Tools

Once you have the right tools, the following steps are straightforward but cumbersome:

  1. Disconnect the plumbing

  2. Cut the old tub loose

  3. Remove and discard the tub

  4. Install and connect the new tub

Know Your Tub

A bathtub has a drain, mixing faucet, spout, overflow drain and water supply pipes. It often has a decorative front panel, and it usually sits in an alcove specially built for it. The tub flange rises up behind the drywall or tile, preventing water from getting behind your walls.

First Things First - Disconnect the Plumbing

You have to disconnect the plumbing first:

  1. Turn off the water supply

  2. Drain the water supply lines

  3. Remove the faucet, drain and spout

  4. Disconnect the drainpipes below the tub

Out With the Old

Cut through the tile or drywall around the tub enclosure four to six inches up from the tub’s rim. This exposes the tub flange and the screws or nails attaching it to your house studs. Remove the screws or nails.

Lift up the tub front, shove some wood runners under it and recruit some neighborhood linebackers to help you pull it out. You may have to cut the tub into pieces for disposal.


Before you invest the effort to transport your new tub into the bathroom, ensure it will fit in the alcove. Once you’re ready to install your tub, remove as little of the protective packaging as you can to protect it during installation. Slide it into place, mark its flange on all the studs, then remove it to attach a fresh stringer on the alcove’s three sides. Slide the tub into place again, ensure it is level, and reconnect the drain and hardware.

Fill the tub with water before securing it to the studs, as the water weight will allow it to sink into place. Replace the drywall or tile, paint to finish and caulk.

Need More Help? Ask a Pro!

As you’ve probably concluded already, replacing a bathtub is an enormous amount of work. Any step could go awry, leaving you tub-less and dry. Instead of taking this painstaking task upon yourself, consider contacting Ace Home Services for professional, prompt and perfect bathtub installation.

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