Excitement ensued on Day 2 as we hauled home a brand new bathtub and hooked it up.
There is nothing not exciting about cleanliness, and something invariably more special about cleanliness when associated with a brand-spankin’-new bathtub. Of course, there’s probably some degree of negation when you’re bathing in a brand new tub in the middle of an otherwise gutted bathroom, but I’ll take what I can get. The install was surprisingly painless for us first-timer’s, but not without a bit of prep, a few little surprises, and extra expenses.
After we completely gutted our only bathroom during Day 1 (removing bathtub, floors, and vanity), it was a high priority to get a working bathtub back in order. Neither myself nor my boyfriend are pros at this, and we’ve never done any sort of bathroom remodeling, but a combination of common sense/renovation research from bathroom pros made us feel confident enough to start by re-installing the bathtub.
The good (no, amazing) news is that we were able to get the tub installed by the end of Day 2, and I was able to bathe at home again. Follow me through the progress we made in the bathroom renovation.
I planned all along to gut the room and then buy an off-the-shelf tub that was already in stock from our local big box store (convenient, affordable, no long ordering process). I was looking for a porcelain-on-steel make, ideally, because I considered that because I would be installing tile shower surround, steel would feel more solid and timeless than an acrylic/plastic bathtub.
Fortunately, as I found when the tub was completely removed, the stall in the bathroom would happily accommodate a 30″x60″ bathtub (standard size) even though the previous insert measured a bit smaller. The winning model (after not much deliberating) was a Bootz Maui porcelain-on-steel design. White. With the appropriate left-hand plumbers openings. It was the only one in stock, so that was good. It was shockingly affordable too ($179, and I had a coupon so the price was actually just $161). Unlike other models (even more expensive models), this one had a full-length self-leveling support pad that eliminated the need for us to create a mortar bed for the tub to rest on.
The tub was also really lightweight (under 90 lbs,. about 410 pounds lighter than I was expecting). It fit in the back of my Jeep Patriot without a problem with the seats folded down, and up to the second story bathroom in a pinch. Thumbs up.
Along with purchasing the bathtub, we also had to make our first plumbing repairs, because when I lifted out of the old tub, we found that the old drain pipe was hanging on by a thread (and it was chopped inexplicably short, so I can’t imagine that it was ever very securely fastened). I can’t believe that I haven’t had mammoth leaks.
We picked up an entire bath drain kit that allowed us to replace all tub-related plumbing, so I spent $26 on that to make sure we could hook everything up properly.
Neither Pete nor I had ever hooked up a bathtub, though he had a slightly better understanding of how it was meant to come together. before anything could happen, I removed furring strips that supported the old tub and replaced them with a leveled 2×4 board along the back wall to reinforce the structure and keep it level in its final positions (manufacturer’s instructions, even though the tub is also resting on its leveling pad). Also, we like any opportunity to use the pancake compressor and framing nailer – I realize not everyone has one of these tools, but they are handy, pretty foolproof, and eliminates lots of hammering. Always wear eye protection, especially when you’re taking photos for a major digital outlet.
We made some quick flooring updates before we dropped in the new tub, too. Some of the hardwoods surrounding the toilet had some water damage and felt a little soft (though the subfloor and joists beneath them still seemed strong). The floorboards came out, and in their place, I laid a piece of 3/4″ plywood to bring the height of the floor back to level. We also replaced the plywood that sits beneath the tub so that we could make sure it was level too.
The new drain pipe plumbing was also assembled at this time. Based on the drain hole measurements from the bathtub manufacturer, we were able to get the new kit assembled and at a position where it would closely align beneath the drain of the new tub. We left the connections loose at this point, not fully tightened because we weren’t sure if we’d need to remove the tub again and adjust.
You can see both the new plywood and the new drain pipe in this next picture, as Pete balanced the tub on its edge, we lifted it in.
Good news all around:
- The tub fell right into place, with the self-leveling support pad sitting nicely on the ground, and the 2×4 on the back wall holding the tub in place.
- The drain pipes were very closely aligned to where they needed to be, and because there wasn’t enough room to wiggle my arm behind the installed tub, I was able to reach in and tighten all of the connections by hand without removing the tub to make tweaks.
- Even though there wasn’t a spout installed yet, we had free-flowing water coming straight into the tub and draining well. A perk of being able to reach through the studs and behind the tub at this point was that I was able to test for leaks. An easy test? Hold paper tissues around the connection. If it’s wet when you pull it back up, it should clearly signal any moisture.
And then we could bathe, and life was good. Next, we’ll begin to seal off the walls of this space around the tub.
To read more stories about this renovation: