Removing and installing a new bathtub may seem like a cumbersome task for a lot of homeowners. However, many still choose to take on this task themselves to save on contractor costs. But just how much does it cost to replace a bathtub? And what steps are involved in doing so? In this post, we will go over all of this for you.
Replacing a bathtub is an extensive project and can cost anywhere from $1,600 to $10,000 to complete. The installation process includes:
- Removing the old tub and hardware
- Reconfiguring any plumbing as needed for the new installation
- Installing the new bathtub and its related hardware.
The new bathtub can range from $250 to $3,000, while the installation costs (depending on where you live) can be anywhere from $1,200 to $7,000.
Now, let's take a closer look at how to install a new tub step-by-step. You'll want to continue reading because we'll also cover replacement costs. We'll also discuss the costs associated with converting a tub to a walk-in shower, and suggest some alternatives to update a tub without replacing it.
How To Install a New Bathtub
Plumbers are generally needed to install new bathtubs, as there are plumbing connections and hardware that need to be removed and replaced during the installation process. Typically, a new bathtub can be installed in about seven to nine hours (at least three hours will be needed to remove the old tub). Let's take a look at what's involved.
Step 1. Shut Off Water
There are a few prep work items that need to be completed before starting this job. First, you'll need to shut off the water to your bathroom at the shut-off valve. Next, you'll need to turn on the faucet to the tub to let any water left in the pipes drain out.
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Step 2. Remove The Hardware
Now it's time to remove the hardware from your tub by taking a screwdriver and unscrewing the tub's faucet, as well as the drain covers. If the handles are stuck, you can spray WD-40 on them. Give the WD-40 about 10-minutes to penetrate the hardware before attempting to remove it again, as you don't want to strip their surfaces (which can make them even more challenging to remove).
Step 3. Remove The Tile/Drywall
Now it's time to remove the grout and tile from around your tub. You can do this with a chisel and hammer, a mastic remover, or a putty knife. You'll need a mini saw and pry bar to remove the drywall. Be sure to lightly saw into the drywall initially, as you don't want to damage any structures that are positioned behind it (i.e., studs, joists, electrical wiring, plumbing, etc.).
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Step 4. Remove Securing Screws & Caulk
Before removing the tub, you'll need to locate all of the securing screws and fasteners and remove them. Then, it's time to cut away any caulk around the tub with a utility knife. You can also use a silicone caulk remover gel to ease this process.
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Step 5. Pry the Tub Out
Now comes the heavy lifting task. For this step, you'll need to use your pry bar to pry the tub away from its back wall and detach it completely. Then, you and another person will need to physically lift and remove the tub from its position.
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Step 6. Update Plumbing
Before installing your new tub, it's important to ensure that your plumbing matches the new configurations.
Step 7. Set The New Tub In Position
Once your plumbing is updated, it's time to physically set your tub and its new position. Again, this will take at least two people. You'll also need a level to ensure that the tub isn't leaning to either side.
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Step 8. Hook up The Plumbing & Seal
Now it's time to hook up the tub's plumbing, seal the area around it, and then close up the walls. Next, it's time to install your hardware (i.e., drain flange, faucet, and knobs). When everything's done, turn on your water valve and slowly turn on the tub's faucet to test the water flow.
The Costs of Replacing a Bathtub
Types of Bathtub Materials
Bathtubs can come in a variety of different sizes, styles, and materials. The most popular materials used to make bathtubs are fiberglass, acrylic, and porcelain-enameled cast iron. Fancier bathtub models can also be made of marble or quartz.
Porcelain-enameled Cast Iron
This is probably the most popular material when it comes to bathtubs. Porcelain tubs can be purchased at anywhere from $250 to $1,000 and come in various shapes, sizes, and styles. The porcelain coating on top of the cast-iron makes these tubs very durable, and they are known to last over 20-years without needing any re-glazing.
Fiberglass is one of the more popular materials to use to make bathtubs. It's inexpensive, durable, and is good quality material. These tubs are aesthetically pleasing and known to last for several years. Expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $500 for a new fiberglass tub.
Acrylic bathtubs are a bit more expensive than fiberglass, ranging anywhere from $500 to $800. They don't require special maintenance and can be found in a wide variety of designs and styles, all due to the material's moldable nature.
Marble tubs are considered high-end tubs, and their initial cost and require maintenance are something to consider before purchasing. Right out of the door, these tubs can cost anywhere between $1,600 to $2,300.
Types of Bathtub Styles
Bathtubs can also be purchased in various styles to suit the specific decor of a room home. Most general-purpose (aka "everyday tubs") will be on the lower end of the cost spectrum, starting around $200 to $600, plus installation.
Soaking tubs are stand-alone tubs that are designed to be placed anywhere in a bathroom. They'll typically cost you around $350 to $5,000 (installation is around $1,000 to $1,400).
Walk-in tubs are bathtubs designed with a door to allow for easy access. Instead of having to lift your leg over the height of the tub, you can simply open the small door to get inside of it. They're typically larger and are known to be fairly comfortable. These tubs can run about $2,500 to $10,000 (including installation). It's also important to note that they require specific changes to a home's plumbing system and will use more water on average.
Is Replacing A Bathtub Difficult?
Yes, it's safe to say that most homeowners and most contractors would agree that replacing a bathtub is a fairly difficult project, especially if you've never but on this particular type of project before. The tub's removal is a project that has its own challenges and difficulties, such as removing the tiles and the hardware around the bathtub and then physically lifting it out of its place.
Next, you have the installation of the new bathtub, which will typically require additional plumbing work. In many instances, a contractor will need to open up the wall to remove the previous tub and properly position the new one--this work requires specialized skill as well as a bit of elbow grease.
For an alternative solution to replacement, check out "How Much Does It Cost To Repair A Bathtub?"
How Long Does It Take To Replace A Bathtub?
For a professional home contractor, removing a general-purpose bathtub and installing a new one can take anywhere from seven to nine hours and can easily take another day. It may take longer if there are special configurations that need to be set up regarding the plumbing. If you are embarking on this DIY project on your own, expect it to take a bit longer, perhaps about double the amount of time as a contractor.
How Much Does It Cost To Convert A Bathtub To A Walk-In Shower?
Converting your existing bathtub to a walk-in shower can cost anywhere from $2,200 to $8,000, depending on where you live. The majority of the money spent will be installing the new unit; however, removing the bathtub (and disposing of it) can run up labor costs.
Other things can make up the cost for this type of project. Extra features and services such as expanded doors and expensive materials (such as solid stone floors or walls) will make the project costs increase. For example, if you want to add/change the shower fixtures, this may cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per fixture, as a plumber will need to open up the wall and change the current hardware setup.
The shower walls are typically made of acrylic or fiberglass and may include common conveniences such as grab bars and-pre-molded shelving for convenience. If your shower kit doesn't include these items, expect to pay around $30 to $50 per item, as well as additional installation costs (if you don't want to install them yourself).
Can You Replace A Bathtub Without Damaging Tile?
Yes, it is possible to replace a tub without damaging the tile around it. To do so, you can simply remove the first few rows of tile from around the tub by removing the rim that goes beneath the tub and the tiles. To complete this project, you will need a mastic removing solution to loosen the adhesive behind the tile, so that they don't break (Note: If you try to chisel away the tiles using a hammer, they'll likely break--so the mastic remover is a must-have).
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Next, you'll take a Stanley knife and place it beneath each tile, and one by one, gently pull them from the wall. Other tools to have include grips and a wrench to shut off your plumbing beforehand. It's important to know that this needs to be a slow and careful process.
How Do You Update A Bathtub Without Replacing It?
Yes, you can re-caulk and re-glaze the bathtub if it has a porcelain enamel. Doing so will refresh the tub, removing dents, scuff marks, and other visible signs of damage. To do this, you will simply need to purchase a bathtub refinishing kit at any home improvement store or online.
These kits typically include small brushes, epoxy/hardener, cleaning solution, and steel wool. The epoxy will typically be white (since most home bathtubs are white), but it can also be tinted. When the epoxy cures, it forms a new layer of coating over the tub, giving it a newly finished (and shiny) look.
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Another alternative to update your tub is installing a liner. Learn all about this process at "How To Install A Bathtub Liner [6 Easy Steps]."
Wrapping Things Up
Replacing a bathtub is not a simple DIY project to embark upon. If you decide to replace your own bathtub, it's best to do so with caution to avoid issues with your plumbing as well as possible damage to the tub. Now, you'll be aware of the steps involved and related costs, along with some alternative ideas to refresh your tub affordably.