If you want to remodel an outdated tub shower combo you’re in the right place.
Over the last several years we’ve been making tutorials on this exact type of project.
Even if you’re a complete DIY beginner we believe you can do a tub shower combo remodel.
And today you’ll get a lot of tips you won’t see in books or anywhere else online.
Plus, we have a few surprises for you. Let’s dive in.
Step 1: Demo the Old Tub Shower Combo
Many bathrooms have those old one piece fiberglass surrounds. The only way to get them out is to cut the fiberglass into three pieces.
Before you do anything, turn the water and electricity off to the bathroom.
Remove all the old plumbing fixtures, like the mixing valves plumbing.
And the shower head and tub spout.
Then use a reciprocating saw to cut the fiberglass at each corner in the tub surround.
This makes it easy to remove the plumbing wall, back wall and main wall.
You’ll have to disconnect all the pipes from the tub and then you can remove it as well.
Step 2: Check the Subfloor
Every tub shower combo remodel will be nothing short of a pain if the subfloor isn’t level.
Place a 4 foot level on the subfloor.
If the subfloor is level you can move on to the next step.
If you the subfloor isn’t level and is off by more than a 1/2 inch you’ll want to inspect the joists.
Fixing joists is not for the faint of heart. But you can sister new 2×8 or 2x10s to old joists to improve the structural integrity of your home.
Sometimes plumbers will cut through joists to make room for pipes. And the notches they make compromise the joist to the point where it starts to sag. This in turn can lead to the sublfoor sagging.
If you’re not comfortable fixing the joists call a professional.
Water damaged sublfoors can be replaced with plywood or OSB.
DITRA and other isolation membranes have specific requirements for subfloors.
Just be sure to read the handbook for DITRA in order to use the correct subfloor thickness.
We recommend using DITRA or DITRA-HEAT under tile.
Primarily because DITRA will prevent tiles from cracking and you can completely waterproof the bathroom floor while you’re redoing the tub shower combo.
Sometimes the only part of the subfloor that isn’t level is where the tub needs to go. You can use self-leveler to help remedy this situation.
Step 3: Setting the Tub and Tub Plumbing
Setting a tub is WAY easier when the subfloor is level.
Rest the tub in the alcove.
And place a 4 foot level on all four sides.
Acrylic tubs need the tub lip pre-drilled.
Then secure the tub to studs using galvanized screws.
Steel or cast iron tubs are secured to studs using galvanized washers and screws. It’s a bit difficult to drill through steel or cast iron!!
Sometimes the tub needs a 2×4 stringer for support.
Read the tub directions to be sure you need a stringer because sometimes they’re not required.
One of the biggest tips we have for tub drains is to use 100% silicone to seal them to the tub.
Also, know the height requirements for the tub spout, mixing valve and shower arm.
In general, at least here in Pittsburgh, the tub spout is 3-4 inches off the tub deck.
The mixing valve is 9-18 inches off the tub deck.
And the shower arm is 80 inches off the subfloor.
And if you can use a mix if PEX and copper with the mixing valve that will save you some time.
Step 4: Frame the Shower Niche and Waterproof
Before you frame a shower niche it’s best to know the size of the tile, grout joint spacing and tile layout.
That way the tile won’t look wonky when set on the substrate.
Frame a shower niche using standard 2×4 framing.
Here’s a picture of the tile that went around our niche.
It gives you a good idea of the importance of planning.
Waterproofing options include KERDI-BOARD
And cement board
If you use cement board waterproof it with something like RedGard
Step 5: Set Tile on Main Shower Wall
Set the first row of tile on 1/16″ or 1/8″ plastic spacers.
This provides a gap between the tile and the tub.
That gap can be filled with silicone.
The reason for the gap is to allow expansion and contraction between the tub and the tile.
And if you’re using large format tiles, e.g. 12×24 inch tiles, it might not be a bad idea to use a tile leveling system. This helps tune the tiles and prevent lippage.
In addition, plan the tile layout so that you have a good piece of tile at the ceiling.
Anything less than 2 inches will look pretty weird.
Step 6: Tile Remaining Walls
Plumbing walls always present a challenge because of holes for tub spouts and mixing valves.
Cut holes for mixing valves using a carbide tipped hole saw.
Holes for mixing valves require a different set of tools.
Angle grinders equipped with diamond blades are great for cutting large, e.g. 3 to 4 inch, holes.
Take your time when cutting holes in tile and wear all the safety gear to protect your eyes, skin and ears.
Setting the tile on the last wall is similar to the other two. Use spacers at the tub and know your layout in advance.
If you want to save money you can use Schluter metal profiles instead of bullnose tiles.
One 8 foot section of Schluter profile costs $20 to $30 and comes in a variety of colors and finishes.
For more tips and to see the types of grout we like watch our video
We hope you liked today’s tips on tub shower combo remodeling.
If doing this type of project you might like our free guide ‘How to Remodel a Tub Shower Combo in 7-Days’
Thanks as always for reading, watching and being part of our awesome DIY community.
Have a great day and talk to you soon,
P.S. If you didn’t know, we have online classes for homeowners doing a DIY bathroom remodel.
They’re affordable, step-by-step and awesome for newbies.