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Man Tearing Out an Old Bathtub

How to Remove a Bathtub the DIY Way

Change Out Your Old Bathtub Yourself to Save Big on Your Remodel

Whether you want to replace your tub with a walk-in shower or swap out a 70s-era eyesore for something more modern, planning a DIY tub removal leaves more money in your budget for the rest of your bathroom remodel. This project will take several hours and involve some heavy lifting, but a homeowner with some DIY savvy can accomplish it with a few tools you probably already have on hand.

We’re here to show you how to remove a bathtub without calling in a pro—and clear the way for creating the bathroom of your dreams.

Step-by-Step Instructions for DIY Bathtub Removal

Reading this in the middle of the job? Already know how to tackle certain steps? Use this menu to skip to the step you need help with.

Tools and Materials | Prep Work | Removing Hardware | Removing Tile and Drywall | Removing the Tub

Step 1: Tool Up

To change out a bathtub, you’ll need:

Tools and Materials: Safety Gear:
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • Allen wrench
  • Jigsaw
  • Prybar
  • Putty knife and utility knife
  • Drywall saw or reciprocating saw
  • Plywood for floor protection
  • Plastic sheeting or old plastic bags for vent covers
  • Safety glasses
  • Work gloves
  • Closed-toe shoes with sturdy soles
  • Face mask (optional)

Pro-Tip: Consider renting a home dumpster to get rid of your old tub and the other debris involved with your bathroom remodel. If you put a bathtub out at the curb, most garbage collectors will leave it right where they found it. We recommend a 10 yard dumpster for a small-scale bathroom update or a 20 yard container for a larger remodel.

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Step 2: Set the Stage

Tearing out a tub is a messy job. You’ll need to do some prep work to contain the dust and protect surrounding bathroom surfaces.

  1. Tape plastic sheeting over all vents to keep dust from being carried to the rest of your home. You can also use plastic grocery bags for this.
  2. Lay plywood over the floor tiles surrounding your tub to prevent damage.
  3. Shut off water to the bathroom at your home’s main water shut-off valve.
  4. Turn on your tub’s faucet to drain any water left in the pipes.

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Step 3: Remove Your Tub’s Hardware

Time to strip the faucet and drains from your tub. You can remove these in any order, but it’s often easiest to start from the top and work your way down. 

How to Remove a Tub Faucet

  1. Scrape away any caulk between your faucet and the wall using a utility or putty knife.
  2. Check for a screw on the underside of your faucet.
  3. If there  is no screw, grab the faucet with both hands and turn counterclockwise until it detaches. 
  4. If there is a screw, use an Allen wrench to remove it. Pull the faucet away from the wall. 
  5. Check the exposed pipe for an adaptor—it will look like a piece of threaded metal on the end of the pipe.
  6. Disconnect the adaptor by using an Allen wrench to remove the screw fastening it to the pipe.

How to Remove Faucet Handles

If you have lever-style handles, use an Allen wrench to remove the screws holding them in place. Screws are usually found under the lever.

For other handle styles, use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the screws. If screws aren’t visible, they’re probably under a “plug” on the front of the handle—often carrying the manufacturer’s logo. Use the tip of your screwdriver to pry off the plug and expose the screw.

After removing the screws, slide the handles off the valve stems by pulling them toward you. If the handles are stuck, spray on a coat of WD-40 and wait 10 minutes before trying it again.

How to Remove Drain Covers and Drains:

  1. Unscrew the drain cover using a screw driver or Allen wrench.
  2. Pry up the cover and pull it from the tub.
  3. If there are no screws, just pry up the cover with a screw driver or putty knife. If it won’t come out when lifting it straight up, try twisting it counterclockwise, as it may be threaded in.
  4. Find the screws on the overflow drain cover.  They’ll either be located on the cover’s face or under the bottom edge of the faceplate.
  5. Use a screwdriver or Allen wrench to remove them.
  6. Locate the access panel for your bathtub’s pipes on the other side of the wall behind your tub.
  7. If there is no access panel and the bathroom is on the ground floor, check the basement ceiling under your bathroom. If they aren’t accessible from your basement, you’ll need to cut through the drywall behind your tub to reach the pipes.
  8. Locate the main and overflow drain pipes.
  9. Disconnect both pipes by turning the nuts counterclockwise with a wrench.

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Step 4: Take Down Tile and Drywall

To remove your bathtub, you’ll first need to tear out the surrounding tile and drywall. Here’s what to do:

  1. Score the tile grout with a utility knife up to about 8 inches from the rim of the tub. 
  2. Pry off the tile with a putty knife.
  3. Cut through the drywall with a drywall saw. Be careful not to sink your saw in deeper than half an inch to avoid cutting into studs.  If your walls are plaster, use a reciprocating saw for this instead.
  4. Carry debris to your dumpster so you’ll have a clear, safe work area for the next step.

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Step 5: Remove the Tub

You’re in the home stretch! Time to finally tear out that old bathtub.

  1. Remove any screws securing the tub to wall studs with a screwdriver.
  2. Cut through any caulk between the tub and floor with a utility knife.
  3. Pry the tub a few inches away from the wall using your pry bar.
  4. Use a jigsaw to cut the tub into two pieces, making it easier and safer to carry.
  5. Work with a helper to pry each piece up and pull it out of its space.
  6. Carry each piece to the dumpster.

Pro-Tip: If you decide leave the tub in one piece, take your doors off their hinges to make maneuvering simpler and prevent damage.

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So, You Removed Your Bathtub – Now What?

If you’re gearing up for a full-scale remodel, changing out an old tub is just one piece of the puzzle. Use our bathroom demolition guide to completely gut your bathroom. With tips for tearing out your vanity, toilet and more, you’ll save money by giving your contractors a clean slate to start from.