Project Guide: Installing New Bathtub and Shower Wall Panels - Direct-to-Stud
Installing new bathtub and shower panels directly to wall studs is a project
many homeowners who are experienced with home improvement tasks and tools can
do themselves. Some panels come in the form of a single molded unit that fits
in the bathtub or shower alcove. This type of unit is often used in new
construction. The other type of wall panel, which is often used in bathroom
remodels and renovations, consists of separate panels that connect together
and attach to the wall to form a watertight seal. This project assumes your
old bathtub surround or shower has been removed and you are renovating your
tub or shower alcove with panels that connect together. These panels have
flattened edges, called flanges, which can be nailed directly to the wall
studs. As you work on your project, be sure to follow any manufacturer
instructions that come with your wall panel kit.
Before You Begin
Accurate measuring is crucial for the success of your project. When measuring
to cut valve and shower arm holes, measure from the back wall forward and the
shower base upward.
To ensure strong adhesion and prevent trapped moisture, make sure the surface
of the studs you are covering is dry and free of debris.
Use the cardboard box your shower panels came in to protect your floor during
installation. You may also use it in Step Four to create a template for
cutting the holes for the panel that covers the shower valves.
Place the back panel flat against the back wall and rest the panel on the
bathtub or shower base.
Mark the height of the top of the flange on the wall on both sides of the
panel and draw a horizontal line across the wall at this height. Remove the
screw holding the faucet handle in place.
Mark Flange Heights and Edges on Side Walls
Carefully rest a side panel on the bathtub or shower base and position it
where it will interlock with the back panel.
Draw a horizontal line on the wall along the top flange and vertically along
the outside edge of the vertical flange.
Remove Drywall or Tile
Use a keyhole saw to cut along the horizontal and vertical lines drawn on the
back and side walls, being careful to avoid cutting the studs.
Use a pry bar to remove the wall covering.
Remove any nails or screws from the exposed wall studs.
Measure for Plumbing Holes
Measure the location of the plumbing valves and shower arm.
Transfer the measurements to the side panel that will cover the plumbing wall.
Verify placement for the holes by placing the panel against the plumbing wall.
Cut Plumbing Holes
Use a proper size hole saw to cut holes for the plumbing. Be sure to make the
holes smaller than the decorative trim that will cover them.
Confirm the holes are accurate by placing the side panel against the plumbing
Apply Construction Adhesive to Studs
Place the back panel on the bathtub or shower base.
Mark the top of the panels on each stud.
Remove the panel and apply a bead of construction adhesive safe for use with
plastic and foamboard down each stud that comes in contact with the back panel.
Lay a bead of caulk along the tub ledge.
Reposition the back panel and press it firmly against the studs.
Pre-drill 3/16" holes in the center of the flange at the top of the panel
centered on each stud.
Hammer 3/4" galvanized roofing nails through holes into the studs, being
careful not crack the panel.
Interlock and Install Side Panels
Attach the side panels to the back panel per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Apply a bead of silicone sealant when the panels interlock when attaching them
Repeat the installation instructions in Steps Six and Seven to attach the side
panels to the wall studs. If the panel’s outside vertical flange doesn’t fall
over a wall stud, install blocking and nail the panel to the blocking.
Attach the bottom of each panel to the bathtub or shower base per the
Install greenboard over the flanges with drywall screws. Because this piece of
greenboard is very narrow, pre-drill 3/16” pilot holes in the greenboard,
flange and wall before inserting any screws. Take care not to crack or damage
the flange by overtightening.
Apply any trim and silicone sealant at the connecting joints and around the
edges of the installation, as needed.
Use joint compound to cover any screws or nails in the wall and to cover any
seams between the drywall and greenboard.