Removing the bathtub opens up space for fresh opportunities—a new bathtub, a shower conversion, or clearing the area for a vanity, countertop, or storage.
Unless you plan on a complete bathroom tear-out, removing the tub is a delicate process that preserves as much of the building materials as possible. With careful planning, it is possible to remove the tub while minimizing damage and mess.
Before You Begin
Removing a bathtub is a two-part process: first, detach the tub from plumbing and surrounding building materials; second, lift the bathtub out of place and move the tub from the bathroom.
Detach Tub and Remove Obstacles
Bathtubs are solidly attached to a number of places. Methodically removing these attachment points and obstacles will free up the tub so it can be lifted out. Attachments and obstacles might include:
- Bathtub drain
- Overflow drain
- Tile, acrylic, or fiberglass surround
- Drywall or cement board
Lifting a standard alcove bathtub out of its enclosure presents unique spatial and weight challenges.
Once the plumbing has been detached and the tub surround has been removed, one end of lightweight acrylic or fiberglass tubs can be lifted until the tub is vertical or nearly vertical. In this position, the tub can easily be rotated out of the enclosure.
Steel or cast-iron bathtubs’ weight, combined with the awkward lifting position, make these tubs more difficult to remove with this method. The tub can be lifted out by cutting away a couple of key wall studs and swinging one end of the tub outward.
Another method is to open one section of wall and slide the tub straight out. Or you can break up the tub with a sledgehammer or cut it in half with an angle grinder.
Removing the tub from the bathroom without damaging walls, toilet, or the countertop is best accomplished with a helper. But if you are alone, you also have the option of sliding the tub out on blankets or wheeling it out an appliance dolly.
Wear eye, breathing, and hearing protection when removing the bathtub, especially when breaking up or cutting up the tub. Shut off power to the area before breaking into the walls. When removing wall studs, make sure that this is not a load-bearing wall.
Source: The Spruce