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Creating a custom bathroom that you love spending time in is a brilliant way to update your home. Building your own custom shower is a project that can dramatically impact your space, even if you're not planning a full bathroom remodel.
Shower surrounds, which you may know better simply as the walls of your shower, are particularly quick and easy to install. Installing a new shower surround is also a cost-effective method to improve the look of your bathroom. Use this guide to show you how to tackle a tub-to-shower conversion in about a day.
Prepare the Enclosure
Shower surrounds can be installed directly over securely fastened ceramic tile. Loose ceramic tiles and plastic tiles must be removed, and the walls will need to be sanded smooth before installation. In new installations, the enclosure should be applied over waterproof backerboard.
- First, shut off the main water supply and remove all fittings, including your shower valves and shower head.
- Clean any stuck-on film and dirt from the wall surface and dry thoroughly. You may need a specialty product designed to remove lime, rust and other buildup in your shower enclosure.
- Prep your cement backer board with a stain-blocking primer. Cement board works to create a good, sturdy bond that will last for years.
- Allow the surface to dry completely before moving on to the next step. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for drying time.
Test Fit Corner Panel
Test fit your corner panel first before installing it. Once you’re assured of the fit, remove the panel and set it aside.
- Mark the side that will go on the wall with painter's tape or lay it down flat so that side is facing up and out.
- Apply 1-inch pieces of double-sided tape along the vertical edges of the wall panel.
Apply Adhesive to Panel
- Use a caulk gun to apply dots of adhesive every 12 inches along the vertical length of the panel.
- Use your caulk gun to apply rows of adhesive near the edge of the panel. This ensures that your adhesive will provide the proper hold.
Install the First Corner Panel
Once all the adhesive is in place, it's time to install your first corner panel.
- Carefully pick up your corner panel and position it on the wall.
- Press the panel firmly onto the wall.
- Pull the panel back from the wall about 6 inches for two to three minutes. This will allow the adhesive to set up. (Some manufacturers may have a slightly different process and time for this step.)
- Push the panel back in place firmly.
- Apply pressure all along the panel, ensuring firm contact with the wall.
- Repeat the adhesive process with your other corner panel before installing it using the steps above.
Measure the Pipe Outlets
You’ll need to create a pattern or template of your enclosure with all the outlets marked in the right size and position. Take your time making this template and measure all the openings carefully.
- Measure the area where the pipes extend from the wall using a tape measure.
- Determine the height from the bottom of the panel and the distance of each fitting from the inside edge of the panel.
- Transfer these measurements to a large piece of cardboard and make a template.
- Make cut-outs in the correct places to allow room for pipes.
Test Fit the Template
Lay your cardboard template against the wall, making sure the template openings line up with the pipe outlets. Make any adjustments as necessary. Test fit your template again to make sure it's correct.
Cut Panels and Install
- Lay your cardboard or paper template on your corresponding shower wall panel.
- Mark the positions of the openings on the back of the panel with the template. Drilling from the back will minimize chipping.
- Take time for another test fit.
- Use a hole saw to cut the openings.
- Work slowly and carefully for the best fit.
Applying expanding foam can improve the rigidity of your wall panels.
- Fill the crevices in the panel with expanding foam. This will make them more rigid and durable.
- Position the panel onto the wall.
- Apply pressure by hand – working side to side – to mount the panel in place.
- Install the remaining panels using the same process.
Install Fixtures and Seal with Caulk
- Put fixtures back in place and seal your new shower with caulk.
- Put your shower fixtures back in place the same way you took them off.
- Seal along the outside edges of the panels and around fixtures like your tub spout. Use a caulking gun to apply a silicone sealant designed for shower and bathtub use.
- Use a small spoon dipped in soapy water to smooth the caulk line and get the perfect bead.
- Avoid using the shower for at least 24 hours or according to manufacturer's instructions.
Replacing an old bathtub surround with new shower wall panels is a project you can do yourself. Make sure to measure your cardboard or paper template carefully. Seal and caulk fixture openings well to keep them waterproof. With the right shower kit, this is a job you can get done in about a day, even if you're not a DIY expert. Ready to enjoy a new shower? Use The Home Depot Mobile App to locate products and check inventory. We'll take you to the exact aisle and bay.