After we completely gutted our only bathroom (removing the bathtub, floors, and vanity), it was a high priority to get a working bathtub in order. Neither myself nor my boyfriend are pros at this, and we’ve never done any sort of bathroom remodeling, but a combination of common sense/renovation research from bathroom pros made us feel confident enough to start by re-installing the bathtub.
The good (no, amazing) news is that by the end of Day 2, I was able to bathe at home again. Follow me through the progress we made in the bathroom renovation.
I planned all along to gut the room and then buy an off-the-shelf tub that was already in stock from our local big box store (convenient, affordable, no long ordering process). I was looking for a porcelain on steel make, ideally, because I considered that because I would be installing tile shower surround, steel would feel more solid and timeless than an acrylic/plastic bathtub.
Fortunately, as I found when the tub was completely removed, the stall in the bathroom would happily accomodate a 30″x60″ bathtub (the standard size) even though the previous insert measured a bit smaller. The winning model (after not very much deliberating) was a Bootz Maui porcelain-on-steel variety. White. With the appropriate left hand plumbers openings. It was the only one in stock, so that was very good. It was shockingly affordable too ($179, and I had a 10% off coupon, so the total price was really more around $161). And unlike other models (even more expensive models), this one had a full-length self-leveling support pad that eliminated the need for us to create a mortar bed for the tub to rest on.
The tub was also really light weight (under 90 lbs., about 410 lbs lighter than I was expecting). It fit in the back of my Jeep Patriot without a problem with the back seats folded down, and was up the stairs in a pinch. Thumbs up.
Along with purchasing the bathtub, we also had to make our first (of hopefully not many) plumbing repairs, because when I lifted out the old tub, we found that the old drain pipe was hanging on by a thread (and was inexplicably chopped short, so I can’t imagine that it was ever very securely fastened). I can’t believe that I haven’t had mammoth leaks.
The store we stopped in at had bath drain kits that allowed you to replace all of the tub-related plumbing, so I spent $26 on that to make sure we could hook the new tub up properly. At least the cost was partially offset by the $18 savings on the tub itself.
Neither Pete or I had ever hooked up a bathtub, although he had a slightly better understanding of how it was meant to come together. Before anything could happen, I removed furring strips that had supported the old tub (they can still be seen in the first picture of this post) and replaced them with leveled 2×4 board along the long back wall to reinforce the structure, and keep it level in it’s final position (general manufacturer’s instructions, even though the tub is also resting on its leveling pad). Also, we like any opportunity to use the pancake compresser and framing nailer – I realize not everyone has one of these tools, but it’s super handy, pretty foolproof, and eliminates what would otherwise be a lot of hammering (no injuries on day 2, although I notice I’m wincing pretty seriously and not wearing eye protection here). Always wear eye protection, especially when you’re photographing yourself for DIY Network.
We also decided to make some quick flooring updates before we dropped in the tub – some of the hardwoods surrounding the toilet had some water damage and felt a little crumbly (although the subfloor and joists beneath them still seemed strong). The floorboards came out, and in their place I laid a piece of 3/4 plywood to bring the height of the floor back to level. We also replaced the plywood that sits beneath the tub so that we could make sure it was level too.
The new drain pipe plumbing was also assembled at this time. Based on the drain hole measurements from the bathtub manufacturer, we were able to get the new kit assembled and at a position where it would closely align beneath the drain of the new tub. We left the connections loose at this point, not fully-tightened because we weren’t sure if we’d need to remove the tub again and adjust.
You can see both the new plywood and the new drain pipe in this next picture, as Pete balanced the tub on it’s edge we lifted it in.
Good news all around:
- The tub fell right into place, with the self-leveling support pad sitting nicely on the ground, and the 2×4 on the back wall holding the tub in place.
- The drain pipes were very closely aligned to where they needed to be, and because there was enough room to wiggle my arm behind the installed tub, I was able to reach in and tighten all of the connections by hand without removing the whole tub to make adjustments.
- Even though there wasn’t a spout installed yet, we had free-flowing water coming straight into the tub and draining smoothly down (as shown in this next picture). Again, a perk of being able to reach through the studs and behind the tub, I was able to feel for any leaks, and we did a series of tests to make sure that everything was totally leakproof before beginning to seal off the space (part of the Day 3 initiative).