Installing a One-Piece Bathtub Wall Surround

Written by jay p. whickson
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Installing a One-Piece Bathtub Wall Surround
A new tub surround makes a shower a luxurious experience. (Stock.xchng: Csaba J. Szabo (Exian))

A one-piece bathtub wall surround prevents many of the leaks you find with other types of surrounds, both ceramic and fibreglass, since it doesn't have seams. The unit folds at the corners, allowing easy movement through doors. The installation takes about a day, and having a partner to help you is a good idea. Be prepared for unexpected wall damage when you remove the old tub surround.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Small screwdriver
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Container for fixtures
  • Pry bar to remove old surround
  • Level
  • Plumb line
  • T-square
  • Power drill with screwdriver bits and 1-inch spade bit
  • Concrete backer boar (optional)
  • Hardi-backer screws
  • Jigsaw or sabre saw
  • Tub/shower surround
  • Caulk gun
  • Liquid Nail for tub surrounds or other adhesive
  • Caulk

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  1. 1

    Remove the faucet, shower and handles. Also, take off any accessories on the wall, like a grab bar or soap dish. If you're going to keep the old fixtures, use a small box to store them out of the way. Keep the parts until you finish installing the new fixtures, just in case you're missing something and can rob it off the old.

  2. 2

    Inspect the walls. If you already have a tub surround and want to replace it, you'll have to remove it first. Make sure that the walls beneath are strong. Now is a great time to upgrade to concrete backer board if you find you need wall repair. Check the walls to make sure they're plumb. Out-of-square corners cause havoc when you install a one-piece bathtub wall surround, as do out-of-plumb walls. Correct all problems before you proceed further.

  3. 3

    Measure for the placement of fixtures. Measure from top and bottom, as well as the distance from each side. If you're unsure about your measurements, make a cardboard template for the wall with the fixtures from the box for the surround. Cut the outline of wall of the surround and use your measurements to cut openings for the fixtures. Put the template in place and see if you measured correctly. If so, do the same on the one-piece wall surround.

  4. 4

    Dry-fit the one-piece bathtub wall surround. Insert it into the opening and make sure that it fits well and has no gaps. See if you need to adjust for the fixtures. Cut the opening for the faucet handles in two steps. First start with a smaller hole made with a 1-inch spade bit, then use a sabre saw to make the hole bigger. Use the spade bit for the shower head and spout.

  5. 5

    Apply the adhesive to the walls. Use Liquid Nails for tub surrounds or a product recommended by your manufacturer. Make sure you pay attention to the amount of time necessary for the adhesive to set up or you won't get a good bond.

  6. 6

    Put the tub surround into place, starting at the bottom first and moving up. You'll need a partner to help you with this step. Smooth it down by running your hands over the panel while pressing.

  7. 7

    Replace the fixtures. Put a thin bead of caulk around the opening for the spout before you snug the spout into place. Create a thin bead of caulk around the plates for the shower head and handles. Caulk all seams. Allow the area to dry for 24 hours.

Tips and warnings

  • If your one-piece unit doesn't allow you to fold it at the corners, make sure your doorway is wide enough to bring the unit into the bathroom.

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