In most cases, removing an old tub or shower is a project homeowners who are
handy with a few common tools can do themselves. Removing an old tub or shower
is a labor intensive project, and often involves some demolition of the area
around the tub. Showers and tubs can be heavy, so you'll want to have someone
help you when it comes time to take the unit out of the bathroom.
Before You Begin
Measure the doorway and path for removal to be sure the old and new components
will fit through doors and hallways.
You may need to remove or protect fixtures like your vanity, toilet and sink,
depending on the amount of space available to work in and how you intend to
remove the unit.
Know the material your tub is made of in order to know the proper way to
Be sure to wear safety glasses, long sleeves, long pants and work gloves.
Turn off the water at the shut off valves. These valves can usually be found
in the basement, utility closet or crawlspace, or in a closet behind the
bathroom wall that holds your tub's plumbing fixtures and accessed via a
removable panel. If you don't have an access panel, you can turn off the water
at the main water supply. To learn more about shutting off the water, watch our How
to Shut Off a Valve video.
Remove the drain strainer and/or tub basket using a screwdriver or basket
If you are working on a bathtub, use a screwdriver to remove the waste and
Bathtub: Gain access to the tub from behind the wall where the
plumbing assembly is located or through the ceiling below the floor under the
tub. Use an adjustable wrench to loosen and remove the locknuts connecting the
tub’s drain, waste and overflow pipes.
Note: This is a good time to check the underside of your tub
and determine the material it is made of so you'll know how to remove it in
Remove the Spout
Bathtub: Unscrew the set screw on the underside of the spout, then
grasp the spout and wiggle it towards you. If there is no set screw, insert a
screwdriver into the spout and turn it counterclockwise until it comes off.
Shower: Remove the showerhead and arm by unscrewing them
The handles need to be removed if they are on the tub or an enclosure wall. If
not, proceed to Step Six.
Pry off the handle caps.
Remove the screws holding the handles in place and take off the handles.
Remove any screws holding the decorative trim in place and slide off the
Separate Tub/Shower Enclosure from the Wall
Scrape away caulk where the tub or shower enclosure meets the floor, then:
Cut at least six inches of drywall away from the tub on all sides.
Remove any screws or nails holding the tub flange to the studs.
Use a pry bar to lift up the front edge of the tub and slide 1 X 4s beneath
Pull the tub away from the wall using 1 X 4s as skids.
Take off the shower doors.
Inspect the edges of the enclosure. If they are attached to studs and covered
with drywall, use a keyhole saw to cut the drywall from the edges.
Remove all nails and screws and use a pry bar to remove the surround.
Score grout lines around tile with a scoring knife or grout saw.
Pry off any loose tiles with a cold chisel by tapping the chisel beneath the
tiles with a hammer. Tiles attached with mortar may need to be broken with a
hammer to be removed.
If necessary, use the pry bar to remove the shower pan.
Remove Tub or Enclosure
Remove the tub based on its type of material. If the tub is made of:
Solid Porcelain – Cover the tub with an old wet blanket or tarp and use
a sledgehammer to break the tub into pieces.
Fiberglass – Use a reciprocating saw to cut the tub into pieces.
Cast Iron/Porcelain on Steel – This type of tub cannot be broken and
should be removed in one piece.