Get Our Bathroom Remodeling GuideLearn More
Get Our Bathroom Remodeling Guide

blog

How to Remove a Bathtub (SAFELY!!)

As Seen On
by Jeff Patterson in Bathroom Plumbing, DIY Bathroom Remodel
How to Remove a Bathtub

Today you’ll learn how to remove a bathtub.

But first, I lied by accident.

In my tutorial on how to remove a bathroom floor I said we were keeping the bathtub.

But it turns out that was a BAD idea.

You’ll see why this was necessary and get a sneak peak at the new tub.

Tub removal isn’t all that bad.

Although I did have some funny moments and palm to face incidents!!

 

Bathtub Removal Supplies

Here are the supplies you need to remove a bathtub

What’s the first step you should take?

 

How to Remove a Bathtub…Safety FIRST

First things first, place duct tape over your tub drain.

Apply Tape to Bathtub Drain

This stops debris from going down the drain and clogging your pipes.

Small but powerful tip.

Turn the water off to the house – do this at the main shutoff. Which is usually in the basement (at least here in Pittsburgh) or garage.

Then drain the water.

Drain Water from House

I did this in the kitchen.

Turn the electric off.

Turn Off Electric

The tub I was removing was a whirlpool tub.

So it had electric running to it.

The last thing you want is to get shocked while removing a tub.

That’s a bad obituary.

Remove the shower curtain and curtain rod

Remove Shower Curtain

Remove the shower head

Remove Showerhead

If you’re reusing the shower head here’s a tip.

Place a rag over it.

Use your Channellock pliers to loosen it from the shower arm.

This prevents the channel locks from scratching the shower head finish.

Place Rag on Showerhead

Our shower had an old school 3 handle setup.

If your shower looks the same remove the screw from the handle.

Remove Shower Handle Screw

Pull the handle and escutcheon off the shower stem.

I had to, ahem, coax the handle off the stem with my Channellocks.

Shower Handle

This is the escutcheon

Shower Handle Escutcheon

Remove the stems from the shower plumbing by turning them counterclockwise.

This is where Channellocks come in handy, love LOVE these to death.

Remove Shower Stem

Check the tub spout for a set screw.

If you have one, loosen it with an allen wrench.

Turn the tub spout counterclockwise or simply pull it off the copper.

Bathtub Spout

These are the very first steps for a tub removal.

The fun demo is next…

 

Tub Surround DEMO (fun times)

If you need a cathartic experience demoing a tub surround is the answer.

Grab a super bar and hammer.

Side note: any project with a hammer is fun, right!!

Pound the super bar behind the tub surround and pry it loose.

Not a bad idea to cut silicone caulk at the corners and tub.

Pry Tub Surround

In this example our tub had FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastic) on the main wall.

That’s what I’m prying off.

But you’ll likely have a one piece or three-piece fiberglass tub surround.

Cut the corners of the tub surround with a reciprocating saw.

This makes pulling the surround off the wall pretty straight forward.

Reciprocating Saw

If you have plaster or drywall behind the surround remove it with a hammer.

This plaster was nasty. It’s over 100 years old!!!

Old Plaster Walls

Repeat this process for the plumbing and back wall of the tub.

This plaster was nasty. It's over 100 years old!!!

Before you can tear out the tub you need to tackle the plumbing.

This is easy.

Tub Plumbing…the FINAL Swan Song

A few weeks back I showed you how to install shut offs in a tub.

Well, that was done before I decided to demo this tub, haha.

That said if you’re keeping the copper plumbing, you’ll love these tips.

Cut the copper pipes using an AutoCut tool (by far my favorite copper pipe cutter).

AutoCut Copper Pipe Cutter

Then slide on SharkBite shutoffs.

Slide on SharkBite Shutoffs

Yep it’s that easy.

Although I recommend checking out the full tutorial on how to install SharkBites.

My video shows you all the details of the next several steps.

You have to remove the tub overflow and drain.

I almost forgot to take out the tub drain which was kind of funny.

Watch the video to see me suck in my stomach to get the tub out of the house!!

 

What’s Next

We also have videos showing how to remove a toilet and how to remove an old flooring from a bathroom (6 layers!!!).

If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and want to simplify the process enroll into the Bathroom Repair Tutor Video Library

We show how to build showers (Schluter, Wedi, Curbless, etc.), install tile, upgrade basement bathrooms, and more.

The extra guidance is invaluable

Enroll Today

 

Cheers,

Jeff Patterson

 

 

 

 

68 Comments
  1. Craig Donnelly says:

    Jeff,
    Soon starting a MBR do over and installing a MBR-bath. First job on the list – about 200 sq. ft. of demo! Walls, sheetrock, some floor, ugh. I need that saw!

    1. Whewee, that’s a lot of demo. But you can do it Craig.

      When are your starting??

  2. Mark lucas says:

    Will be starting my bathroom remodel soon. That would come in handy when I start. My bathroom has tile to be removed off the walls . My wife hasn’t made up her mind if she would like tile back or not. Hoping not.

    1. You can do tile Mark. Sure it takes more time but it’s not all that bad. Planning is key and having the right waterproofing is super important. Let me know if you have any questions.

  3. Hey Jeff! Super handy tutorial, this is an easy enough project that most people should be able to complete it all on their own! I love that you always give a full supply list. I’m thinking about adding that into my DIY guide. Great read! Enjoy your blog!

    1. Thanks a million Jennifer. You’re right, anyone can do this project. And that’s the beauty of seeing it step-by-step. Plus it’s nice to have DIY friends 🙂

  4. Diane Kiddoo says:

    Jeff,
    Hello I am a 54 year old woman gutting and remodeling my master bathroom myself. I am so glad I found your tutorials!! I need all the help I can get. I am about to tear out my fiberglass tub / shower (it’s green yuck). I sure could use the saw now that I am watching your videos and have some guidance. Thanks!

    1. Can’t wait to see your remodel Diane. Super excited to see your pictures over on the Bathroom Repair Tutor private Facebook group. Steve has another video on tub removal on Bathroom Repair Tutor in Module 1. It’s a bit different but similar concepts 🙂

  5. Ted Tallman says:

    Great Job!! Very messy. Might do this type of bathroom model here in the near future. Thanks for all the great tips!

    1. Super messy!! Especially with that plaster. Ugh.

      But nonetheless it’s finished and the new tub installed thanks to Steve.

      Let me know Ted if you have any questions during your remodel. You’d like Bathroom Repair Tutor. It’s meant for someone like yourself 🙂

  6. Renee Pedersen says:

    Nice video Jeff. I do not envy you tearing out those plaster lattes behind the tub. That is a mess! Did that in our old house and really don’t want to go back to that again! We do not have a reciprocating saw at our house. I always have to borrower my dad’s which is as old as the hills. I would love one of my own so I didn’t have to do that anymore! Thanks for the video Jeff!

    1. Knowing you Renee, it was done the right way. Lath is a pain in the you know what. Can’t even imagine what people had to go through to build a home in 1890!!! No power tools. No home stores 10 minutes away. Sheesh, that was hard work.

  7. Jennifer S says:

    I am working on redoing my oak staircase and making a mudroom entryway bench/hall tree. This saw would be great for helping me tear out my old bannister on the staircase.

    1. Your bannister would be gone in a few seconds. Can’t wait to see your project Jennifer. Make sure to post pictures in the HRT Private Facebook Group 🙂

      Here’s the link if you haven’t joined yet

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/hrtcommunity/

  8. Starting a new bathroom installation in an unfinished basement. Your hints and videos have been very informative and helpful. Glad to see you make the mistakes before me. Saves a boatload of time. This tool will be a great asset in the remodeling projects. Thanks for all the good work and keep it going.

    1. Super excited to see your bathroom remodel unfold Bill. Glad you’re liking the videos here and on Bathroom Repair Tutor. Make sure to post your pics on the BRT Facebook group.

      And yes, I make tons of mistakes, haha. But it’s always nice to have Steve to call or text. Poor guy, I have his number on speed dial (does that even exist anymore!!)

  9. Katie says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I replaced my old tub with the same Kohler Archer bathtub that you did! I have the surround out and two out of three walls of tile up. It’s a slow process! I had to do a lot of drywall repair after getting the old tub out and tearing down some board and battan. I can’t wait until my bathroom is finished and that saw would be helpful in this job and others. Thanks for all of your hard work!

    1. Awesome work Katie. Yah, the Kohler Archer tub is sweet. Steve convinced me to get one for this house and I’m thrilled to see it installed. Walls in old homes are never fun to demo!!

  10. Lois Kusunoki says:

    I haven’t started my bathroom remodel yet but I’m learning a lot from your tutorials. I’m a beginner at this but it sounds like a fun project that my bathroom will appreciate. I also appreciate the motivation and inspiration! In this video I learned what is a respirator, shark bite shutoff, autocut tool, super bar weapon/tool, channel lock, impact driver, p-trap and the handy-dandy sawzall. Lots of info packed in one short video! It’s like learning new language. I’m enjoying the process and will be in touch A LOT when I start my journey this summer. Thanks Jeff!

    1. Thanks Lois, really appreciate your kind words.

      If you’re doing a DIY bathroom remodel you’d like Bathroom Repair Tutor.
      It’s meant for DIYers who want a professional looking remodel.

      Always feel free to ask a question in the comments or send me an email. It’s my pleasure to help as much as possible. So many concepts in a bathroom remodel. And materials are changing all the time.

  11. Judy says:

    Love your videos. That large panel of fiberglass -I used the reciprocating saw and sawed the piece into three pieces. Easier for me to handle and also the trash collection will pick it up at no extra fees because it is smaller. Never heard of a shark bite shutoff. New terms, new lessons and a whole lot of money saved in the end.
    Can we send you pictures for advice on a problem? i.e..I have a large window in the middle of my shower wall and the shower pan is a large tile tub. Ugh!

    1. You bet Judy. Send your email to me at [email protected]

  12. Henry says:

    Son #1 is remodeling his kitchen. Son #2 is remodeling his bathroom. Dad #1 (me) supplies tools and free labor!

    1. Lol, love it Henry.

      There better be free pizza and beer for Dad #1.

      What all are you doing at the bathroom remodel (you know that’s my passion)

  13. Cyndi says:

    I need to remodel 3 bathrooms in my 1970 house. All are original, never updated. Between all three I might have one complete bathroom. All have fixtures not working. I really need that saw!!!

    1. Well once you do one bathroom Cyndi you’ll know how to do the other two.

      What all do you need to accomplish? Are you tiling?

  14. Jeff Spengemann says:

    Thanks for the awesome tips. I am starting a remodel on my bathroom, again! I finished it about 5 years ago; however my wife didn’t want to replace the bathtub at that time. (Now she wants a deep tub! Aaaggggghhhh) I have to grind out about 13-16 tiles, because obviously I cant find tile to match. The M18 fuel saw would be a huge help, because my old cheap one bit the dust and has actually become dangerous to use.

    Thanks again the all the tips,
    Jeff S.

    1. Oh boy, well at least you know what you’re getting into Jeff. And as they say, happy wife happy life. Even if that means pulling out the old tub, lol.

      Let me know if you have any questions about the new installation. Make sure to get that tile completely waterproof. It might be a bit hard to do that if not ripping out the rest of the tile.

  15. Liz says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I’m a slightly older woman w/ a definitely older house—my first—and I’m so glad to have found you and your wonderful, inspiring tutorials–thank you! I know a good bit about building furniture, but am a beginning home DIYer. The property includes an old detached one-car garage (1938) that I want to convert into a workshop, but it needs a lot of work. First and foremost, the sill plate, which rests on a small masonry foundation, is rotten all the way around the dirt-floor structure. I’m learning about the work that will be required to remove that wood and replace w/ pressure-treated lumber, and I know that a reciprocating saw is an essential tool to have for the job.

    Thanks again for all the help, Liz

    1. Thanks Liz, and congrats on your new home. It’s great to be a homeowner.

      Although it can be overwhelming at times with older houses. Always feel free to email me with questions. I’d be happy to help 🙂

  16. Bill villers says:

    Great video. I have two projects in the planning. I want to replace our 30-year old Metal porcelain bathtub. My family want to replace it with a Jacuzzi tub. My second project is to replace all of the interior doors and the front entrance door. Oh yeah, I also need to replace the facia board and have gutters rehung.

    1. Whew, you’ll be busy this summer Bill. Let me know how I can help with your bathroom remodel. I’d be more than happy to lend some advice.

      Certainly sounds like a reciprocating saw would be needed at your house!!

  17. Kurt says:

    Jeff I appreciate you leaving the part where you forgot to disconnect the drain before removing tub because that is something that I would do too.

    I am getting ready to remove a tub similar to yours but it has tile surrounding it.

    1. Lol, sometimesI just forget things while DIYing. That was a palm to face moment.

      You might want to remove 3×3 foot sections of tile in your tub Kurt. Use a hammer, wear face protections and go for it. Had to do this in my old shower and it worked out pretty well. The tile was on cement board and came off the studs.

  18. Luann says:

    Jeff, Doing a remodel in the kids bathroom since they moved. That Milwakee Saw sure would come in handy for my hub. While I am picking out the next project to do. I enjoy watching your videos. Thanks for all the helpful tips and step by step instruction.

    1. Awesome Luann. Can’t wait to see your progress. Make sure to keep me posted and send some pics.

      What all are you doing to the bathroom?

  19. tom says:

    We had pipes froze so have lot of remodel so a saw will be a BIG helping tool to help and work on the next honey due list

    1. Cutting pipes is a breeze with a reciprocating saw. Sorry to hear about your pipes Tom. You might want to use PEX. Easy to install and they have insulation quality that copper doesn’t.

  20. tom says:

    love Jeff`s advice and all little good ideas

  21. Mike W says:

    You always have great advice and what an awesome saw you are giving away as well. Not sure I will need it on what I am going to do next but know it will come in very handy down the road. Right now I need to replace my outside water spiket and would love your advice and help. Can I just screw out the top part and replace that or do I need to replace the whole thing. I tried tightening the top screw on handle but still small spray coming out of it. Are these all standard size or not. Any help would be great and winning that saw would be awesome.

    1. I’d recommend getting a frost free hose bibb Mike. And using a SharkBites to help with the installation.

      Here are a few videos that might help. I made these about 2-3 years ago but the concepts work to this day.

      https://youtu.be/B4uzN9GsdGk

      https://youtu.be/2BKnZa3aVU4

  22. Dick Cummins says:

    Slick tool. My old sawzall died recently and this Milwaukee would be a blessing. I am going to renovate a bathroom in my home here in PA as well as one in an older farm house near Digby NS.

    1. Sorry to hear that Dick, totally stinks to have a tool die. Always feel free to email me with questions about your bathroom remodel. I’d be happy to help with material and tool suggestions. It’s amazing how much materials can make the project easier. For example, Wedi and Schluter. Great companies and warranties.

  23. Ed K says:

    Great video. You sure like to destruct stuff in the bath remod. That Milwaukee saw looks great. Better than worrying about getting tied up in an electric cord all the time. I could sure use it on two jobs this summer. One, cutting throughout floor oak flooring and basement wood car siding ceiling to rough out for a residential elevator we plan to install. And second, I need to cut out a couple hundred 1 to 2-1/2 inch tree stems in a quarter acre spot in my back yard and paint the stumps with a killer solution to kill them. Until I watched your use of the tool, I never envisioned how easy that would be as the tool. I was dreading having to bow saw them or use extra large clippers to do the job. I would really like to win that tool.

    1. You’re right, recip saws are great for landscaping work. I’ve used mine on shrubs and trees. And the fact that they’re cordless or at least optional in cordless, makes these saws even better. You’ll have a busy summer Ed!!!

  24. Becky Alderete says:

    Hey Jeff,
    In the middle of my very first bathroom remodel, as you know. But, in my limited spare time, I’m gathering details for my next remodel job, the master bath. My house is 1960s through and through, including the worst layout for a master bath ever. This one will be an entire gut, inclusive of relocating all the plumbing. Thanks for keeping the awesome videos coming!

    1. You’re doing a great job Becky on your bathroom. I didn’t know you had a master that was in the plans, too. Can’t wait to see the finished pics of your current project. Thanks for posting in the BRT private Facebook group. You’re inspiring everyone with your tile job!!!

  25. Darwin says:

    Thanks for the tape over drain tip. I have several old pipes buried in my bathroom wall that I cannot unscrew and will need the reciprocating saw. I like how you unleash your primal instinct with that hammer.

    1. LOL, primal instinct is right. That hammer becomes a part of the human body after 5 minutes. Haha. Are you doing a bathroom remodel right now?

  26. John R says:

    My daughter just bought her first house and the list of projects are several pages long. This tool would be awesome to use in the demo stages of the projects. Great video, great advice. Thanks for all you do!

    1. Thanks John and congrats to your daughter!!! Getting that first home is so awesome. Keep me posted on the projects. I’d be happy to help in any way 🙂

  27. Nina Wagner says:

    Doing a kitchen remodel, trying to do as much of the work myself as I can. This tool would be a great help.

  28. Troy G says:

    Goal is to build playhouse to convert to shed when my girls get to old for it! A sawzall is the one tool i have never bought, i keep borrowing a 15 year plug-in Craftsman from my dad, that will shake your entire body as you are cutting.

  29. Dave Loudenslager says:

    Great tutorial Jeff. I am starting to replace purple tub/shower, sink, and throne in my wife’s bathroom. This color was there when we bought the farmhouse 40 years ago. This cordless saw would be great in this project, even though it’s not colored “purple”. Please keep up the good videos. Thanks.

  30. waykno says:

    Another great vid! I am getting ready to replace my current recipro saw and this Milwaukee tool would be an outstanding score. Keep up the needed work. wk.

  31. Bob Ledoux says:

    My son and wife just bought a house.We need to gut the entire bathroom and kitchen.This tool would be a tremendous help in getting this project done.

  32. Ken Iverson says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I am sure glad I found these tutorials, they are great! I am just starting a pretty complete bathroom and kitchen remodel. That saw would sur make things easier. Even one of your first tips has been a lifesaver – covering the drain in the tub so the debris from the wall demo doesn’t go down and clog my pipes. Looking forward to the next video which I think I saw was on cement board? I am planning on taking out the green board which is in bad shape, replacing it with a vapor barrier and then cement board and tiling the tub / shower walls.

    1. Awesome Ken, hopefully the videos help. If you need more extensive help think about joining Bathroom Repair Tutor. It’s awesome and has all our videos in one spot.

  33. Mike B says:

    I find all your videos very informative, as they have answered all of my questions and have put my concerns to rest.

    I had a Dremel multi-tool and used it so often that I burned up the motor. I have found so many uses for the vibrating tool and use it on every job at either my or my daughter’s house .. I still have 4 bathrooms to remodel, 2 at my house, and 2 at my daughter’s house. So, I could certainly use the much higher quality of the Fein product line.
    Thanks for your consideration to receive the tool.

  34. Frank Bordash says:

    I will be rehabbing two bathrooms over the next couple of months. Both have tile walls and floors. A reciprocating tool will go along way to making this project go easier and faster. Thanks for all the great tips and vids.

  35. RAND TRENT says:

    I HAVE TWO BATHROOMS TO RENOVATE, AND THEY BOTH HAVE THE OLD STYLE BUILT UP MUD AND TILE AND ONE HAS A BROWN BATHTUB. SO IT NEEDS TO BE DONE. IT IS GOING TO BE A MESS, RIGHT NOW PROCRASTINATION IS WINNING OUT, BUT I WILL GET STARTED ON IT. I ENJOY WATCHING YOUR TUTORIALS AND HAVE LEARNED AN AWFUL LOT, SO THANKS.

  36. Wes Wessels says:

    I’m in the process of up dating a 100 year plus old home for an elderly lady. Plus I do have a ministry to help older people in need of handyman work around the house. They provide the material, I provide the labor. Most recent project we bull dozed down a shack and brought in a new single wide mobil home and supplied it with new furniture and food for the freezer. She so appreciated to say the least. With that being said any tools received are appreciated on or end. Thanks for your videos and for offering me a chance to win.

  37. Erica says:

    Starting a master bath renovation. First on the list to tackle is a huge, corner jetted tub with a tiled deck. Any suggestions on how to easily cut that out? It definitely won’t get through the door. I’m a little lady and was hoping to cut it into manageable pieces.

    I started to hammer and chisel the tile surround…I feel like I will be doing that for weeks! I cut and capped the copper pipes with sharkbites and cut the drain.

    Your videos inspired me to start this. I’ve done a lot around my house (fix clothes dryers, garage door openers, garbage disposal, backsplash tile, put in and grouted lvt flooring) but this is the first big project!

  38. Leslie Whelchel says:

    I’m so happy to have found your wonderful tutorials! My sister and I just retired from our previous careers, and we are throwing ourselves into doing all of the home remodeling that we have wanted to do for years. One of our first projects is her bathroom, which is really quite a mess. We are trying to determine if we are brave enough to remove her jetted tub and make an extra large shower there, and then ale her existing shower a linen closet, or possibly just re-tile the existing tiny shower and leave the unused tub. Your tutorials are going to help make that decision for us, because if i can show her that it is something we can really do on our own, we can hopefully do it the fun way and make a huge impact with a new huge shower and much needed linen closet. No matter which we do though, that wonderful saw and accessories would be an amazing help! Thank you for the awesome tutorials—I look forward to tomorrow’s!

    1. That’s awesome Leslie, and congrats on retiring. A variety of new systems make it easier to install large showers. I’ll send you an email with some options.

  39. jackie kuhn says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I am an OT who had to retire from my career early due to approaching deafness. I own and manage property as a way to supplement my income. I love to remodel and learn how to do hands on projects! I use professionals when appropriate, but I like to get my hands dirty and learn how to do new things (like install glass block basement windows). I have learned that using the right tools can make up for my “not the greatest” upper extremity strength. I am pricing out a bathroom remodel in my 1940’s townhome.
    Jackie

  40. David Norman says:

    Just starting our Master Bath remodel – have signed up on Bathroom Repair Tutor and LOVE the videos. Have never done this type of major job before – but I’m gaining confidence with every new video.
    Thank You

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.