How to Get a New Bathtub into a Small Bathroom (Step-by-Step)

It’s always a great feeling to get a new bathtub in your bathroom. However, the entire process can be a challenging experience.

This is especially true if your bathroom is relatively small. You will have to ensure the tub can fit, and you must plan the installation process.

While it is in your best interest to hire a professional installer, you can do it yourself as well.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to get a new tub into a small bathroom.

Steps on How to Get a New Bathtub into a Small Bathroom

Installing a new tub in a small bathroom requires time and patience.

So, you will have to set out a full day or more to complete the process.

In addition to that, you may not be able to use the bathroom during the renovation.

So, make sure you have an alternative arranged if this is your only bathroom. Follow these steps to complete the project.

Step 1. Gather All the Necessary Materials

Before you can begin the process, make sure you have all the materials you need.

This way, you can limit interruptions in the installation process. Here are the necessary materials.

  • Your new tub and plumbing
  • Mortar
  • A level
  • Replacement tiles
  • A tape measure
  • Caulk or plumber’s putty  
  • A bathroom floor plan, which you can make on your own

Step 2. Measure the Old Bathtub and the Bathtub Space

Placing a bathtub in a small bathroom will require very accurate measurements. This is because you don’t have much margin for error.

That is why you must spend enough time measuring everything well. Measure the bottom and the top of your old bathtub.

Write down all measurements, which you will need to add to your floor plan.

It’s also best that you measure everything before purchasing your new bathtub. Take some time to research models that will fit your space and meet your requirements.

Consider features such as freestanding or built-in tubs, materials, and design to make the most of your bathroom space.

You don’t want to buy a tub that won’t fit or will require extensive renovation.

Step 3. Prepare a Floor Plan of the Entire Bathroom

Making a proper plan is vital if you want the installation to be as smooth as possible.

An integral part of that is to make a comprehensive and fairly accurate floor plan for the entire bathroom.

Gather the Materials for the Floor Plan

The materials you’ll need to create a floor plan include a piece of paper (preferably grid paper), a pencil, and a measuring ruler.

Grid paper is ideal for a floor plan because it will allow you to scale the plan more accurately.

Start Drawing the Floor Plan

Begin with first drawing the boundaries of the bathroom. Make sure you draw everything to scale, so you can determine how much space you have to fit in the tub.

It’s also important to measure the doorway. This way, you’ll know if your bathtub can fit through the door.

In your floor plan, make sure to include all plumbing, such as drains and faucets. At the same time, you should mark the length and width of your tub.

All of the parts of the bathroom should be in the correct place.

This also includes whether the drain is on the center, right, or left of the tub area. You can then use that to determine which position your tub should fit in.

Consider any additional aspects, such as storage needs and mobility issues.

It’s easier to make these adjustments on paper than lifting things in person. Once everything is planned, you simply have to execute it.

This way, you’ll save time and effort and reduce the chances of error.

Step 4. Turn Off the Water Supply

It’s best to turn off the water supply before removing the bathtub.

You can perform this process without turning off the water supply because there are water lines connected to the tub.

However, it will prevent any messes from happening if you accidentally hit a valve in the bathroom.

A wet bathroom will also make it hard to apply the mortar.

In addition to that, you should definitely turn off the water supply if you’re removing the toilet and sink. More on this in the next step.

Also read: 14 Simple Tips to Conserve Water in the Bathroom

Step 5. Remove the Old Tub

Disconnect any plumbing fixtures attached to the tub, such as the faucets and drain pipes.

In some cases, you may encounter pipes and fixtures that date back decades, which could pose a potential danger if not handled carefully. It is essential to approach this step with confidence and proper knowledge.

Begin by unscrewing or cutting away any caulking or sealing material around the perimeter of the tub. In some instances, you may need to remove tiles or trim pieces that surround the bathtub.

Use appropriate tools and take precautions to ensure safety while working with sharp objects or heavy materials.

Next, carefully lift your old bathtub out of its position. Place the old bathtub on its side and then lift it vertically.

Be mindful of the tub’s weight and any underlying plumbing, as you don’t want to damage your bathroom floor or create additional problems in the process.

It’s best to call over two strong family members or friends to help you with this process.

Bathtubs are considerably heavy, regardless of what material they are. So, you’ll need help to remove your old one and place the new one carefully.

The last thing you’d want is to let the new one slip onto the floor.

Consider Removing the Toilet and Sink

Depending on the layout of your bathroom, you may have to remove the toilet and sink to remove the old tub and install the new one.

It will give your more room to work ably and with care.

That said, if the sink and toilet are not in the way, you can leave them as is. Disconnecting the toilet and sink will increase your work.

If you don’t remove these two elements in the bathroom, be sure not to damage them when moving the tub around.

However, a small bathroom may get cramped with three people inside it. So, it’s worth the extra work.

Step 6. Level the Floor Underneath the Bathtub

Some old homes with old bathtubs may have compromised sub-flooring after you remove the old tub. In that case, you will have to restore it with mortar, tile, and a level.

Examine the area for any issues, such as water damage or uneven flooring.

You must make sure that the sub-flooring can handle the weight of the new tub.

Follow the mortar manufacturer’s instructions on how to fix the integrity of the sub-floor.

Next, carefully inspect the surrounding drywall and tile for any signs of mold and mildew. Mold and mildew thrive in damp environments, and a bathroom is a perfect breeding ground.

If you notice mold, take the necessary steps to treat and remove it from your walls and floor. Failing to do so can lead to health issues and cause damage to the integrity of the bathroom’s structure.

Once the sub-floor is level and the walls are free of mold and mildew, it’s time to remove any remaining drywall or tile in the area where the new bathtub will be installed.

Be cautious during this step, as you want to avoid damaging any plumbing or electrical systems behind the walls.

Make sure the floor is dry and ready before installing your new bathtub. A level sub-floor will provide a stable base for the new bathtub and prevent potential issues in the future.

That said, if your home is relatively new and the sub-floor is in good condition, you can skip the step.

Step 7. Place the New Tub in the Bathroom

Bring the new tub into the bathroom. Be careful to move it slowly so that it doesn’t hit any part of the bathroom.

Make sure to carry it vertically so that you have more room to walk along with it.

Dry-Fit the Drain and Drain Shoe First

Don’t place the bathtub in its correct position right away. Instead, you should keep it to the side and first dry-fit most of the plumbing, such as the drain and drain shoe.

It will be challenging to try and fit the plumbing after placing the new tub.

  1. Prepare the area: Clear the space where your new bathtub will be installed. Remove any debris, dust, or old materials that may interfere with the installation.
  2. Assemble necessary tools and materials: Gather all the tools and materials you will need for this process, such as a level, measuring tape, and a pencil.
  3. Position the bathtub: Gently place the new bathtub in the designated area, ensuring it aligns perfectly with the plumbing connections, including the drain and overflow tube. Be mindful not to scratch or damage the bathtub during this process.
  4. Level the tub: Using a level, check that the new bathtub is evenly positioned on all sides. Adjust as necessary to achieve a level position, as this will be crucial for proper drainage and overall functionality.
  5. Mark the flange position: With a pencil, mark the position of the bathtub flange on the wall. This will be especially useful when attaching the flange during the final installation.
  6. Inspect the drain alignment: Ensure that the drain in the new bathtub lines up with the existing plumbing. If necessary, adjust the position of the bathtub to achieve proper alignment.

After you first put the drain, you should place some plumber’s putty or caulk generously all around the drain.

This will prevent water leakages. After that, you should screw on the drain shoe and remove excess putty.

Step 8. Slide the Bathtub into the Alcove

Place a layer of mortar on the sub-floor where the bathtub will be installed. This helps to keep the bathtub stable and prevents it from shifting over time.

Apply an even layer, making sure it covers the entire area of the tub base. Carefully lower the tub into the mortar, pressing down firmly to ensure it sets in place and is level.

Most bathtubs today have sound-deadening pads at the bottom. Make sure that these pads sit well on the sub-floor.

When placing the tub, make sure that the overflowing plumbing coming out of the tub and the drain are in line with the rough-in drain outlet.

After the bathtub is in the correct position, double-check that it remains level using a level or straightedge.

Add shims to make the tub level.

Step 9. Attach the Drain Pipes

All that’s left of this process now is to attach the drain pipes. Connect the two drain wires and tighten them. Make sure not to tighten them too hard.

Excessive force can damage the threading on the pipes. As a result, you may cause the pipes to leak water.

So, you’ll have to purchase new pipes.

Step 10. Test the Tub for Leaks

After the installation, you should let your tub sit for 24 hours. This will give the caulk enough time to dry and set.

After that, you should test the tub for any leaks.

If you have disconnected the toilet and the sink, fill water in a bucket from another source and then fill it into the bathtub.

If you turn on the water supply without reconnecting the sink and toilet, the bathroom will get wet.

Next, check if there’s any water below the bathtub. Drain the water in the tub and check again. If you find a leak, add more caulk to the drain.

If there are no leaks, you can reinstall the sink and the toilet.

Step 11. Finish the Drywall and Tiles in the Tub Area

You can finish up the process by fixing the drywall and tiles in the tub area. You can then reattach the spout.

If there was any tile damage when removing the toilet and sink, repair that as well.

Before you begin tiling, ensure the surface is clean and dry. Apply adhesive to the back of each tile and press it against the drywall, ensuring the space between tiles remains even.

As you work your way up, use spacers between the tiles to maintain consistency. Once the tiles are all in place, let the adhesive dry according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

After the adhesive has dried, it’s time to apply grout to the joints between the tiles. Mix the grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions and apply it with a rubber grout float, packing the grout firmly into joints.

Wipe off any excess grout with a damp sponge, working diagonally across the tiles. Allow the grout to dry for the amount of time specified on the package.

Finally, seal the gap between the bathtub and the tile with caulk. This will prevent water from seeping into the surrounding structure, leading to damage and potential mold growth.

When the caulk has fully cured, your bathroom will be ready for use.

Consider Hiring Professionals

When it comes to installing a new bathtub in a small bathroom, you may want to consider hiring professionals to handle the process.

With their expertise and experience in bathroom renovations, they can ensure that the installation process is done efficiently and accurately. This will not only save you time but also help you avoid potential challenges and costly mistakes.

Expert plumbers and bathroom remodelers have the necessary skills and tools to handle the installation process with precision.

They can assess your bathroom’s layout, taking into account any size restrictions, and recommend the best type of bathtub to suit your needs and preferences.

Additionally, they are well equipped to handle any adjustments to your plumbing system that may be required during the installation.

Furthermore, a professional installation can potentially increase the lifespan of your new bathtub.

Properly installed bathtubs reduce the chances of leaks, water damage, and pest issues that may arise due to improper sealing or poor fitting. This can ultimately save you money in the long run and maintain the aesthetics of your bathroom.

While opting for professional help may cost you more upfront, the benefits of a proper installation process must not be overlooked.

It can save you a lot of headache and disappointment in the future, and ensure that your new bathtub is a perfect fit for your small bathroom.

Trusting the experts to handle this crucial process will ensure that your bathroom renovation project is a success, while providing you with the peace of mind that you deserve.

Caring for Your New Bathtub

After successfully completing the bathtub installation process, it’s essential to care for your new bathtub to maintain its appearance and longevity.

In this section, we will provide you with essential tips on how to care for your new bathtub, ensuring you enjoy a relaxing bath time for years to come.

Firstly, make a habit of cleaning your bathtub regularly. It’s recommended to clean your bathtub at least once a week to prevent the buildup of soap scum, mold, and mildew.

Many commercial bathtub cleaners are available, but you can also create your own using a solution of warm water and mild detergent. Make sure to avoid using abrasive cleaners or rough scrubbing pads, as these can damage your tub’s surface.

Next, pay attention to the bathtub drain and unclog it periodically. Hair and debris can accumulate in the drain, causing slow drainage and potential damage. You can use a drain protector to catch hair and debris or clean the drain by removing the stopper and using a drain snake or plunger to unclog it.

It’s crucial to fix any leaks in your new bathtub as soon as you notice them. Leaks can lead to water damage, mold growth, or even compromise the structural integrity of your bathroom.

Check regularly for any signs of leaks, such as water staining around the tub or damp spots on the floor or walls. If you detect a leak, tighten any connections or seals, or call a professional plumber if necessary.

Lastly, protect your bathtub’s surface by using non-slip mats or adhesive strips on the bottom. These will help prevent scratches and other damage while also ensuring your safety during use. Additionally, avoid placing heavy or sharp objects on your tub’s surface, as these can cause significant damage.

By following these simple maintenance tips, you can preserve the beauty and functionality of your new bathtub, allowing you to enjoy it for many years to come while maintaining your small bathroom’s aesthetic appeal.

Acrylic vs. Traditional Bathtubs

When considering a new bathtub for your small bathroom, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of acrylic tubs compared to traditional materials.

Acrylic bathtubs are lightweight, durable, and budget-friendly, making them a popular choice among homeowners and experts alike.

On the other hand, traditional bathtubs, such as cast iron or ceramic, may offer a more elegant look and feel, but require more maintenance and can be more challenging to install.

In terms of installation, an acrylic tub is generally easier to handle because of its lightweight nature. This can make maneuvering the tub into a small bathroom less of a challenge compared to a heavy, traditional cast iron bathtub.

Additionally, acrylic tubs typically have fewer joints, which means less opportunity for mold and scum to buildup, making the tub easier to maintain and keep clean.

Traditional bathtubs, while heavier and often more cumbersome to maneuver into a small bathroom, provide a certain charm and elegance that acrylic tubs may not achieve.

The materials used in traditional tubs, such as cast iron or ceramic, are generally more expensive, and the installation process can be more complicated.

However, the durability and timeless appeal of these materials may be worth the additional investment if it suits your personal style and preferences.

In conclusion, when choosing a new bathtub for your small bathroom, consider the characteristics of acrylic and traditional bathtubs.

Both offer their own set of advantages and drawbacks – acrylic being a more budget-friendly and easier to maintain option, while traditional bathtubs present a more upscale and classic appeal.

Ultimately, the choice depends on your personal taste, budget, and the specific requirements of your bathroom space.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the steps to fit a bathtub in a tight space?

To fit a bathtub in a tight space, follow these steps:

  1. Measure the old bathtub and the available space.
  2. Choose a properly-sized new bathtub that suits your needs.
  3. Gather all necessary materials and tools.
  4. Turn off the water supply and remove any obstructions.
  5. Remove the old bathtub carefully to avoid damaging walls or floor.
  6. Prepare the area for installation, leveling the floor if necessary.
  7. Maneuver the new tub into position and align it properly.
  8. Secure it according to the manufacturer’s instructions and install all fixtures.

How can I maneuver a tub through a narrow doorway?

To maneuver a tub through a narrow doorway:

  1. Measure the doorway and tub dimensions.
  2. Disassemble any removable elements of the tub, such as handles or feet.
  3. Use furniture pads or blankets to protect the tub while maneuvering it.
  4. Place the tub on its side if it’s easier to fit through the doorway.
  5. Enlist additional helpers to assist in carefully moving the tub.
  6. Utilize dollies or other moving equipment to facilitate transportation.

What methods can I use to remove a bathtub without damaging walls?

To remove a bathtub without damaging walls:

  1. Turn off the water supply and disconnect necessary pipes.
  2. Remove any fixtures or hardware attached to the tub.
  3. Protect surrounding walls with blankets or cardboard.
  4. Cut the caulk and adhesive attaching the tub to the surrounding surfaces.
  5. Use pry bars or other tools to carefully detach the tub from the walls.
  6. Lift the tub out with assistance, spanning its weight to prevent damage.

How can I install a bathtub without access from below?

To install a bathtub without access from below:

  1. Choose a bathtub designed for above-floor installation or with an integral apron.
  2. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to assemble and secure the tub.
  3. Install the drain and overflow assembly according to the instructions.
  4. Make necessary connections to the existing plumbing.
  5. Seal the bathtub edges with caulk or a suitable waterproof material.

What does bathtub replacement typically cost?

Bathtub replacement typically costs between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on the type and style of the tub, labor costs in your area, and whether additional work is required, such as plumbing upgrades or tile replacement. Keep in mind that prices vary based on the complexity of the project and your specific situation.

Are there any alternative solutions for small bathrooms?

Alternative solutions for small bathrooms may include:

  1. Installing a corner bathtub that requires less wall space.
  2. Choosing a compact tub designed for small spaces.
  3. Implementing a combined shower and bathtub, requiring only one fixture.
  4. Utilizing a freestanding tub that can be placed anywhere in the bathroom.

Keep your needs and preferences in mind when exploring these alternatives for creating a comfortable bathing space in a small bathroom.

Last Few Words

Installing a new tub in a small bathroom requires a lot of precision and dedication.

If you prefer not to put in the effort yourself, you can always consider hiring a professional team to handle the process.

A new bathtub can completely change the appearance and feel of your bathroom.

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