How to Install a Walk-In Bathtub and Shower

By Gail Cohen

  • Overview

    The demand for walk-in tubs has spurred a growing list of prefabricated walk-in tub manufacturers. Most offer cast acrylic construction. Some have bells and whistles like stainless steel doors, decorating skirting and pricey attachments. Track down your dream walk-in tub/shower, and then follow these guidelines to do the installation job yourself.
    • Step 1

      Visit local home improvement stores to locate examples of walk-in bath/shower units. If you don't find anything you like, surf the Internet, starting with the resources listed at the end of this article.
    • Step 2

      Turn off both water and power supplies leading to the bathroom. Gut the existing shower stall alcove by removing every part of the unit, including prefabricated shower liner, metal doorframe units, glass doors, floor pan and fixtures. Disassemble pipes connecting the shower to the plumbing using a wrench. Ancient metal fittings might require WD-40 or another lubricating agent to loosen them for removal.


    • Step 3

      Replace wallboard surrounding the tub with waterproof drywall/green board if wear, tear, mold, mildew or microorganisms have undermined the structural integrity of the shower alcove. Apply a waterproof underlayment to the floor to safeguard it from floods and run over.
    • Step 4

      Run electricity from the nearest power source to the tub/shower installation area if you plan to install a tub/shower unit with a whirlpool or hydrotherapy system.
    • Step 5

      Finish the wall by painting or tiling the exposed surfaces if the tub/shower style you chose is a stand-alone. If your walk-in tub is to be attached to the wall on one or two sides, no aesthetic touches need be applied.
    • Step 6

      Before sliding the new tub/shower into the space and attaching it to the wall(s) and/or floor, check all pipes in the plumbing system to determine their condition. If hard water sediment has caused deterioration, replace them with efficient PVC piping.
    • Step 7

      Slide the walk-in tub/shower into place. Follow unique installation instructions that come with the tub. It's important to line up drain holes and plumbing outlets. If you have alignment or plumbing problems that are beyond your experience, engage a plumbing contractor to help with or complete the installation.
    • Step 8

      Make necessary adjustments to seat the tub and install the fixtures. Before you caulk exposed areas, make certain there are no water leaks by turning the water back on at its source and running it long enough to get a good read on the water pressure. Check out the whirlpool motor. Complete aesthetic touches to professionally finish and decorate the surrounding walls. Hang a curtain.
    • Skill: Moderately Challenging
    • Ingredients:
    • Prefabricated shower/tub unit
    • Crowbar and construction tools to remove old unit
    • Faucet unit
    • Paint and tile
    • Shower curtain
    • Waterproof underlayment for floor (optional)
    • Lubricating oil (optional)
    • Waterproof green board (optional)
    • PVC pipe (optional)
    • Caulk
    • Tip: Look forward to lower water bills if you use the bath feature frequently. This type of bathing unit offers twice the bathing depth while using less water.
    • Tip: Decide whether you prefer the tub door to face right or left before you mount it.
    • Tip: To save money, order no-frills faucet and knobs.
    • Warning:
    • Before you write the check, call your insurance agent to be certain this type of tub/shower is covered under your homeowners policy.

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