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Before Buying a Tub

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Spa tub
Aaron Stickley
Have you been thinking about buying a tub to replace that old existing tub? Maybe there is a chink in the fiberglass, or the porcelain is flaking off and it is looking rusty. Well, replacing a tub is quite an ambitious project and here are a few things you should consider before you begin. The following is a list of things to consider before buying a tub.

1. How wide, tall, and deep is the existing tub? Do you have room to go bigger? Measurements of the current tub will help to identify and price available options. Most tubs are 60” wide but the depth can be quite different. Maybe the tub is 30” wide now and there is enough room to go up to 32” to give yourself a little more room in the tub. The depth is also something to consider if you want a deeper tub to soak in. Check the bathroom clearances before you begin.

2. What side of the drain is the tub on now. When you are standing outside of the tub looking in, the drain is either on the right, middle, or left hand side. You should know this before shopping unless you are considering moving the drain location as well.

3. Are you changing the tub surround as well? If it’s a tub and shower then above the tub is usually a surround made of maybe fiberglass or tile. This will have to be removed to some extent to get the old tub out and the new one in. This would be a good time to get rid of the old surround and get a new one or to install new tile with the new tub.

4. Are you changing out the tub valve? The best time to change the valve in wall is when the wall is open. When replacing a tub you will most likely be removing the wall around the tub to get the new tub in and out. Add a new valve to the shopping list if you are ready to replace it at this time.

5. Are you ready to patch drywall? Walls will come down, well at least drywalls. If you are replacing the tub and surround you will most likely be removing some drywall because most tub surrounds go directly onto the studs. Keep in mind the cost and work necessary to patch and/or replace drywall during a tub replacement.

6. If you are thinking of getting a whirlpool tub did you consider the electricity needs? The building code in most areas calls for a breaker specifically for the tub when adding a whirlpool tub. You will need power to run the whirlpool tub and some kind of access panel to service the pump and heater.

7. Do you know what permits are required? Installing a tub is a substantial job and will require a permit. As an owner builder you can get a permit or if you hire a plumber or contractor for the project they will get the permit. Just be aware that it is necessary and you should be sure to get one.

8. Did you explore all of the options? Tile or fiberglass surround, the type of tub material, what collateral work will be necessary, the cost of permits, etc. Consider options and get some prices to compare before making a decision. Taking your time will help ensure that the new tub and the finished bathroom turns out the way you want.

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