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How are Bathtubs Installed?

Professionals installing bathtubs.

Bathtub installations are a big deal, and if you’re going to try it yourself, you have to equip yourself not only with the right tools but good knowledge as well. 

Knowing how bathtubs are installed is essential, even if you’re getting professionals to do it. That way, you’ll know what to expect, and pick up on anything that might not be done correctly.

The aim of this article is to discuss how bathtubs are installed in clear and easy-to-understand terms so anyone can know more about the process. After reading the article, you’ll know all about bathtub installations and what goes into doing them correctly.

Installing a Free-Standing Bathtub

Freestanding bathtub with chrome fixtures.

First, we’ll look at how to properly install a free-standing bathtub. These tubs have become very popular and are especially popular in modern homes with a minimalist style of decor and design. They can make a bathroom look and feel completely different.

Installing a bathtub with feet starts with the assembly of the channel frame, after which the feet are attached. It is essential to use only the screws that come with the bathtub because using different screws can damage the tub.

Using longer or different screws can crack the bottom of the tub or deform it, leading to permanent damage that can’t be undone.

Once the feet have been installed, you need to ensure that the bathtub is precisely leveled. You may have to check every horizontal and vertical surface more than once just to make sure everything is perfectly level.

Also, it is of the utmost importance to keep in mind the necessary gradient for the drain. If you don’t, you will always have difficulty with the water flow. The recommended gradient will allow the water to flow to the sewerage system and avoid hard water build-up on the bottom of your tub.

The gaskets need to be placed precisely and carefully in their respective places before the drain’s components are assembled.

Ensure that you check how watertight the drain is before you complete the installation of the bathtub. You can do this by pouring water into it and looking for leaks. If there are no leaks, you can proceed to attach the side panels and prepare for any tiling that needs to be done.

Installing a Bathtub on a Polystyrene Foam Base

A professional installing bathtub.

The installation of a bathtub on polystyrene foam carriers is a bit different from installing a free-standing tub, as you might expect. These carriers serve as the base of the entire structure as well as its insulation to allow for higher water temperatures for longer.

The base can be either a universal modular base or unique to a specific model, depending on what bathtub you’ve purchased. Fortunately, installing both of these types is fairly similar.

You will start by deciding where the bathtub will be located, and placing the base in the right place. Then, you’ll have to test fit it and make any adjustments to the shape of the polystyrene base that is necessary.

Next, you will have to make all the holes you need for the pipes and the drain. Install the drain and make double-sure that it’s as tight as it should be so there will be no leaks.

The base will be attached to the floor with adhesive mortar and you will have to be careful with this part of the process to make sure everything is perfectly level.

Now, you will apply spray polyurethane foam and film on the bottom and side of the tub to mount it, still making sure the tub is perfectly level.

When the foam and mortar are completely dry, you will move on to installing the bathtub’s housing.

Removing Your Old Bathtub

Removing bathtub along with its plumbing.

Before you can install a new bathtub, the old one has to be removed, of course. Here’s how that happens, in case you’re curious:

The water supply needs to be turned off and the access panel must be opened. The tub drain must then be disconnected, as well as the fixture(s).

The tub’s wall covering which goes around it has to be removed next, and the tub itself must be pried from the wall. It can then be carefully removed from its spot. 

The area is then thoroughly cleaned to prepare for the new tub or to lay tiles and cover up the bare floor and wall.

Cost of Installing a New Bathtub

A plumber installing water tap in the bathroom.

On average, bathtubs can cost anything between $200 and $800, depending on the type of tub you want. However, installing them is a lot more costly and costs thousands. You can expect to spend up to $7,000 on the entire process, especially if there are adjustments necessary.

Final Thoughts

Installing a new bathtub can be a big affair, and it can be rather expensive as well. The difference between how free-standing and normal bathtubs are installed can also result in different kinds of expenses.

Sometimes, the project can even lead to more work, because tiles can be damaged and in some cases, the walls may have to be removed and plumbing updated. But once the bathtub is installed, you’ll feel it was definitely all the hard work!