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DIY Bathroom Remodeling: Phase 1

Install a New Bathtub

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by Jeff Patterson in Bathroom Plumbing, DIY Bathroom Remodel
The Bathtub in the Recess

This is the first post in a series on the remodeling process of a bathroom.

I’m helping my brother-in-law Rob remodel a second bathroom in their house.

So if you’re interested in seeing how we do it, stay tuned!!

The first step was to remove all the old fixtures. But that isn’t all that interesting, so I’ll begin this blog post series with us installing the new bathtub.

Bathtub Basics: What to Consider

What kind of tub do you want?

It depends on your space and budget.

Rob chose an Americast American Standard tub for it’s durability and price ($420-$2800).

Acrylic tubs are cheaper but sometimes they flex way too much. That said, we have a great tutorial showing how to install the Kohler Archer bathtub.

In that tutorial we show how to embed the Archer in mortar so that it will last a long time and be super solid.

Cast iron tubs, while durable, are super heavy.

The Americast tub weighs about 100 lbs.

Rob and I had no problem positioning it. If it were a cast iron tub we’d both have slipped disks at this point.

Here’s a view of the space where the tub will reside.

Make Sure the Subfloor Isn't Damaged and is Sturdy for the New Bathtub

We took a good look at the existing subfloor where the old tub was located.

It was in good shape and no dry rot was detected.

But really inspect this space before your install a new tub. The Kohler Archer tutorial shares how to replace a wood subfloor.

The last thing you want is for the subfloor to sag for any bathtub.

Subfloor issues will increase the chances of plumbing leaks to develop as well as caulk failures between the tub & tub surround.

Make sure the studs inside the tub enclosure are plumb, and check that the floor is level.

Plumb and even studs are important for cement board, KERDI-BOARD, or wedi backer boards.

If a stud isn’t plumb you can always “sister” a second stud to it but you’ll have to do this for all the studs on that wall.

The process sounds daunting but it’s very straight forward.

You’ll need to use 3 inch deck screws to join the new studs to the old ones.

The new studs will need to come out 1/4 inch from the old ones to create a new plumb surface. If you have questions on this please feel free to ask.

The Americast installation instructions require a 2 x 4 stringer to be attached to the studs on the far wall (which is about 5 feet in length).

A stringer is just a stud itself cut to size. The bathtub’s weight will be supported by this stringer and the apron.

Support the Bathtub with a Stringer

We moved the Americast tub into the recess and then pulled it away from the wall to expose the stringer.

Then Rob placed a generous 1/4″ bead of silicone caulk on top of the stringer in an S-pattern.

This will secure the bathtub to the stringer.

Run a Generous Bead of Silicone Caulk Along the Top of the Stringer

While we were doing this, Rob noticed the bathtub was a bit off level on the back left hand side.

So we used shims to level it.

We put some silicone caulk on the shims for good measure.

The shims will be covered by thin-set mortar when we go to tile the floor.

Don’t worry, the shims sit down in a recess in the floor, so the floor tiles will be level when we install them.

 

How to Attach The Tub to the Wall

Attaching the Americast bathtub to the stringer was easy enough.

But securing it to the studs was a whole different story.

It’s not hard to hammer a nail into a stud.

That’s the basic principle of how you attach the tub lip to the stud wall but the the tricky part is not hitting the lip with a hammer while doing it.

Since Rob bought the tub I let him hit the roofing nails and secure the tub to the studs.

Anywhere there was a stud he hammered a 1-3/4″ galvanized roofing nail such that the head secured the lip of the tub.

Use Roofing Nails to Attach the Tub to Studs

 

The Roofing Nail Head Secures the Bathtub to the Stud

The instructions from American Standard have a schematic showing drywall screws being used to secure the tub.

Don’t use drywall screws.ย 

First, they don’t have a flat head to properly sure up the tub lip. Furthermore, they just aren’t as strong as roofing nails.

Our other Americast tub tutorial shares a different method that is easier.

 

A Second Reason We Love Americast Bathtubs

All bathtubs have an overflow valve inside of them.

These valves prevent water from overflowing the tub if you forget to turn the water off.

Most of the time, though, the overflow valve needs a pipe attached to it that runs vertically downward to the bathtub waste pipe.

This is the Overflow and Waste Pipe Setup for a Bathtub

The more pipes you have the more opportunities there are for water leaks.

The Americast tub eliminates the vertical overflow pipe by integrating it directly into the tub.

Thus, you don’t have to worry about installing the overflow pipe and contending with these issues.

Can I get a high five for the American Standard engineers.

The Americast Tub has no Overflow Pipe to Install

Rob and I were super happy to not have to deal with any extra pipes.

I’m assuming you might feel the same way.

Here’s the finished look.

The Bathtub in the Recess

Thisย was the first step in improving the bathroom.

It went way smoother than we an anticipated and it was primarily due to the Americast tub design.

It’s light yet durable and only needs a stringer & roofing nails to be stabilized.

What’s Next

I hope this tutorial helps you with your bathroom remodeling project.

Our other Americast tutorial has a great step-by-step tutorial with different tips for older bathrooms.

If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and want to simplify the process register for 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 inside Bathroom Repair Tutor is invaluable

Register Today

 

Cheers,

Jeff Patterson

24 Comments
  1. The Girl says:

    I wish our tub installation had been so simple and straight-forward! Nice work, and very descriptive explanation.

    1. Thanks, sometimes the installation doesn’t go as smoothly as in this example. That was the case in our other tutorial
      https://www.homerepairtutor.com/bathtub-replacement/
      There are a lot of great tips in the video that address problems in old bathrooms.

  2. Kenny says:

    Did you set the tub on cement board or directly on the subfloor?

    1. Kenny, we set the tub directly on the wood subfloor and the instructions call for a cleat to be installed on the wall for extra support. We tested the structural integrity of the wood subfloor and reinforced the entire area. The project turned out great and there have been no issues ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Jasen Robert Walsh says:

    Just curious, what was your side ( left side right side backside )rough space of the wall?

    Did you leave 5/8 on each side wall for the hardyboard or 3/4 inch space for hardy board and tile? Just the cement board space? Best guess, thank you, jasen.

    1. Jasen,

      I’m trying to remember the rough in, we used 36 inch by 60 inch cement boards. This was done because we wanted the cement substrate to jet out from the tub edge by about 4 inches.

      Thus the rough in for the right and left sides were about 32 inches wide. The back wall was approximately 60 inches wide. The heights were 60 inches and we added purple board in order to get the walls to meet the ceilings (but you can use cement board too).

      It’s no mistake that cement board comes in 3 by 5 foot lengths, these are typical dimensions for a tub surround ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Jon says:

    Was the bathroom the width of the tub? If so, how did you lay it flat and get it in position once through the door?

    1. Great question Jon.

      Very carefully is the short answer-lol.

      We moved the tub into position by standing it up vertically then lowering it to the floor.

      There was some scraping of knuckles involved.

  5. Geoff says:

    How did you connect the tub tailpiece to drain piping?

    1. Hi Geoff,

      We had to buy a separate kit that has the overflow and waste lines along with the pop up assembly.

      Install the horizontal waste pipe assembly first then connect the vertical overflow pipes to it.

      It’s pretty easy but takes some practice. All the pipes are connected with a slip nuts.

      Hope this helps, but let me know if you have additional questions.

  6. Mike says:

    Jeff, I have to raise the BS flag. You said you used a tub with built-in overflow, then you responded to Geoff’s question by stating that you purchased a kit with waste and overflow… So which is it???

    1. Well it was an unintentional error Mike. You can lower the BS flag, haha.

      The tub in this tutorial had a built-in overflow. A lot of tubs don’t have a built-in, you have to buy a kit.

      Now that I think about it, I’d prefer to have the kit because sometimes I like to run a snake down the overflow pipe to remove clogs.

      Sorry for the confusion. I get a lot of questions these days and consequently get confused on some of the project details.

  7. Tom says:

    Nice. Exactly what I am working at. I have had 3 tubs. First was odd size and getting the drain to connect was impossible. Second was too cheaply made. Working on third now. On the stringer board, how did you get it attached to the wall at the right height? I figured it went up first and the tub slid up to it. Is that not the case?

    1. If I remember correctly the stringer was supposed to be attached to the studs at about 18 inches above the floor.

      The directions had specific instructions on how to do this.

      Then the tub was slid into place. American Standard makes some solid tubs ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. Brendyn says:

    Would love your opinion. Im installing an American Standard Cadet Curved Acrylic Bath Tub (1717), which sits on the edge and a runner on the bottom. The floor is not level in an older home, so when I use the stringers to level it, one side is a good inch off the ground. The instructions say dont put any weight on the stringer. But the runners are quite tall, and the instructions dont mention using a morter or expanding foam bed. Is using shims the only way to support it? How can I be sure the shims will stay in place if I just shim one end, but the rest of the runner is still off the ground? (I can’t add shims to the middle of the tub because once the tub is in place, I cant reach the spot under the tub to add a shim). Any inside would be fantastic.

    1. Great questions Brendyn. One solution is to use 2x4s to damn off the area where the tub will go. Then use silicone to temporarily seal the 2×4 to subfloor. Then use self-leveler in that tub are. Allow the leveler to sit overnight then pull the 2x4s the next day. That will level your floor just where the tub goes.

      We had to do that for the Americast tub in this tutorial
      https://www.homerepairtutor.com/bathtub-replacement/

  9. Tim says:

    I was just curious how you came to the conclusion that “the schematic showed the tub was secured using drywall screws.” it seems like a stretch to assume the screw you saw in the drawing was in fact a drywall screw. I believe you saying not to use drywall screws may deter people from using screws in general. Also telling people to ignore the manufactures directions I believe is very irresponsible. After all, I don’t think you will be springing for their new tub because they voided their warranty based on your information. “Roofing nails are much stronger than drywall screws” What a vaugue and ambiguous statement that’s only purpose is to attempt to support your modality at the same time likely being incorrect. Screws are certainly stronger at clamping which is exactly what the tub needs. I recommend you edit this article to follow manufacturer reccomendations and or show evidence of you overly broad opinion of strength of nails vs screws.

    1. Thanks Tim for your feedback. I can tell you’re not happy with my suggestion but let me explain:

      After demoing bathrooms and seeing drywall screws rust apart I firmly believe they’re a bad option for tubs.

      American Standard’s directions at the time were to use drywall screws and in our opinion is the screws did not adequately hold the tub to the studs.

      You can also use stainless steel screws and washers to accomplish the same affect as our roofing nails, this is an option.

      Every homeowner has to decide for themselves what is best for their situation.

      But I will never back down that drywall screws are a bad idea to hold a 150-300lb tub to the studs.

      1. Tim says:

        I appreciate your response. You said it best that every home owner must decide what is best for their situation. My bad for being an ass. I appreciate your articles and site. Thanks you.

        1. Hey Tim, no problem buddy. It’s always good to get feedback, that’s what makes this stuff fun…using our brains. Thanks again ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Jeff says:

    Did you have access below or on the side of the tub (water wall side) to make the final connections to the drain? Is their a way to make the final drain connections without access below of to the side? I am does g the exact same install but have no access.
    Thanks.

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