How to Replace a Steel Bath Tub

Written by robert sylvus
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How to Replace a Steel Bath Tub
Some bathrooms need the toilet removed before replacing a steel tub. (Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Remodelling contractors use drop-in replacement steel bath tubs when changing out an old steel bath tub. A drop-in steel tub's size and drain placement matches the tub it replaces. A steel tub slides into a three-sided recess, with only the tub's rim, bowl and face showing from the bathroom. When looking at a steel tub from its face, a left-hand tub drains to the left and a right-hand tub drains to the right. Steel tub manufacturers commonly make tubs with a white or cream-coloured finish.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Screwdriver set
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Drywall saw
  • Locking pliers
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Bubble level
  • Shims
  • 1-inch galvanised nails
  • Plumber's putty
  • Drain basket
  • Overflow assembly

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  1. 1

    Loosen the screws holding the old tub's overflow assembly with the correct screwdriver, often a Phillips screwdriver. Pull the overflow assembly out of the tub. The overflow assembly slides into the hole on the tub's wall above the drain hole. The overflow assembly's handle works the drain stopper.

  2. 2

    Remove the screw holding the tub drain's cover against the tub's floor with the correct screwdriver, often a Phillips screwdriver.

  3. 3

    Push needle-nose pliers into the drain basket and unscrew the basket from the tub's drain assembly. The needle-nose pliers' blades slip into the basket's cross members, and turning the basket counterclockwise loosens the basket.

  4. 4

    Access the tub's drain pipes through the wall adjacent to the tub's drain. Some buildings have an access door covering the pipe connections and some walls have a drywall covering. If the wall does not have an access cover, use a drywall saw to cut a hole about 12-inches-square in the drywall for access.

  5. 5

    Loosen the slip joints holding the building's drain pipe to the T-fitting on tub's drain assembly. The overflow tube enters the top of the T-fitting, and a horizontal pipe connects to the tub's drain. Remove the drain assembly.

  6. 6

    Remove a 6-inch strip of the wall covering around the perimeter of the steel tub with a hammer and chisel. Tile usually covers the walls surrounding a steel tub.

  7. 7

    Remove the anchors holding the old steel tub's lip against the wall studs. If nails hold the tub in place, pull the nails with a hammer. If screws hold the tub, remove the screws with the correct screwdriver.

  8. 8

    Slip a long screwdriver between a wall stud and the steel tub's lip. Pry on the tub using the screwdriver's handle for leverage. Repeat this on each wall stud. The tub should slide away from the wall slightly. If not, inspect the tub's lip and drain connections for an obstruction and remove the obstruction.

  9. 9

    Remove the old steel tub from the bathroom.

  10. 10

    Set the new steel tub in place.

  11. 11

    Place a bubble level on top of the steel tub's rim and adjust the tub until its rim rests level against the wall studs. Fill the low spots between the tub's base and the floor with shims. The shims hold the tub level and stop the tub from rocking on an uneven floor.

  12. 12

    Secure the steel tub to the wall studs with 1-inch galvanised nails. If the tub's lip contains a series of nail holes along its lip, drive a nail through the tub's lip and into each wall stud with a hammer. If the tub uses a solid lip, hold the nail on the wall stud so its shaft touches the top of the lip and drive the nail into the wall stud.

  13. 13

    Install the tub's drain assembly on the building's drain pipe and tighten the slip nut with the locking pliers.

  14. 14

    Apply a 1/4-inch-thick roll of plumber's putty around the tub's drain hole.

  15. 15

    Slip the drain basket into the tub's drain hole and screw the basket into the drain assembly's horizontal pipe with the needle-nose pliers. Replace the drain cover and tighten the drain cover's screw with the screwdriver.

  16. 16

    Slip the overflow assembly's stopper into the tub's overflow hole and down the drain assembly's overflow tube. Tighten the screws holding the overflow assembly against the overflow pipe.

  17. 17

    Replace the wall covering around the tub's lip.

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