You know those projects where everything seems to go wrong? Well, that’s how our bathtub remodel/install is going. It’s been one of those projects where you look at each other and just think… “ummmm…. what now?”
There are a few times during this project (and it’s not done yet) where we had to take a step back and figure out a solution where it didn’t seem like there were any good ones. Let’s start at the beginning.
First of all, this summer is our summer to get our main house projects done. In fact, we really NEED to get them done because we have some news!!
Lily is excited too… but for a different reason…
We are beyond excited about this new addition to our family!! It sure is going to be different around here! But, this also puts us on a little bit of a time crunch. I don’t want to be living in drywall dust or without a running shower with a newborn. That doesn’t sound fun. I want to spend as much time as possible with our little baby before I need to go back to work.
Time to finish those remodels!
So, we decided to jump in on the bathroom remodel. This is the room of our house left that really NEEDS an update (besides the basement). We already finished the living room (besides one part that needs updating), the kitchen, 3 bedrooms, and upstairs half bath. The main things I want to be changed in the bathroom are the tub… it is green, the vanity which has plastic drawers and a single sink, and the peel and stick tile, which is popping up all over. Originally our bathroom had carpet in it, so we ripped it out and left the peel and stick tile that was underneath.
The tub needed to be done first so that we could see where the flooring needed to go and so that we didn’t put the new vanity in first and scratch it up. I looked into every other option to avoid taking out the tub. I seriously looked into painting it white with a tub paint kit, but the tub was fiberglass, not porcelain, and looked like it had actually been painted before and wore off. For a while, I just kept the tub/shower covered with a nice shower curtain, but it was only a temporary solution. The tub is really hard to clean because it isn’t glossy anymore… so I’m a little embarrassed to show you these photos. 😬
Tub and Shower Surround
So, we decided the next easiest option was to replace the tub and buy a shower surround. I didn’t want to tile the shower this time just for the sake of saving time and maybe even some money. I searched online for the cheapest tub/shower combo with decent reviews, finally ending up with the Delta Classic 400 tub and shower surround. It was $499, but with shipping and taxes it came out to close to $600. Oh, and on the website, it said this wasn’t sold in stores. After we ordered it, we found out it IS sold at our store which would have saved us $50 on shipping.
Then came the tricky part. I measured our tub before ordering. It only came out to 58.5 inches. I was confused and searched online for smaller tubs to fit our space. After some searching, I realized that they don’t make tubs smaller than 60 inches. The only tubs that are smaller are special whirlpool tubs or custom orders.
After checking out our tub a little more, I realized that the tub was built into the wall. Now we only have cheap wood paneling in the bathroom, so it isn’t thick at all. Definitely not thick enough for the wall on both sides to add up to 1.5 inches. So, all I could figure is that they cut out the studs a little and inserted the bathtub into it. (We didn’t take down the wall at this point to check because we figured if they only made 60-inch tubs, then that must be what our tub was). So, we ordered the new tub and crossed our fingers.
The tub got delivered less than a week from the day we ordered it. It actually came a day early which was a nice surprise for our bathtub installation timeline. Except, after the delivery guys left, we noticed that the shower surround box was ripped open on the side like it was dropped really hard and dragged. There was also a crack and chip in the side of the shower. The box was badly damaged. At first I was like, “Seriously??! We have to send it back and it’s going to set us back a week on this project.” But then Bryan noticed that the crack was in an area that wouldn’t even show on the shower or affect the water flow.
He suggested calling Home Depot and asking for a small refund on the order because of the crack. You know me, I love a good deal. So I actually texted Home Depot (if you go to their customer service page, you’ll find an option to text them) and told them about the crack and chip. At first, they offered 10%, and then offered 15% after I didn’t accept the first offer. They refunded the money to my account and we ended up getting $79 back. I’ll take it for just 10 min of texting back and forth!
Removing the beast
Once the crack issue was all settled, we started removing the trim around the shower and some of the wood paneling to see what we were getting ourselves into. At this point, we noticed that the tub was not set back into the studs meaning there was no way it was actually 60 inches. I measured and it was about 59.5 inches. I don’t know WHERE ON EARTH they found this tub. But it must be custom made or some weird fluke. That meant we needed to fit a 60-inch tub into a 59.5-inch space. Fantastic.
We figured we’d get to that problem later. The 1st obstacle was how to get this 1 piece fiberglass tub out of the bathroom. Bryan told me it might be best to take Lily for a walk to get away from the smell and dust (especially since I’m pregnant and we don’t know what is in the bathtub). He closed the bathroom door, opened the window, wore a mask and started going to town cutting the tub into manageable pieces with the Sawzall and breaking it. And I’ll tell you what. The plastic smell was pretty awful, I got out of there fast.
I’d say it took him about 30 min to get the whole tub out. I was impressed and happy to have that ugly green thing out of our house!
So now we come to the main problem. How to fit the new tub into the space. The new tub was exactly 60 inches. Luckily we had enough room to lay it down next to the open space and see how much room it needed to fit into the open tub space. The two sides of the tub space include the opposite wall of my kitchen pantry (down below – left) and the opposite wall of the bathroom closet (picture below – right). The bathroom closet is longer than the tub opening and is super narrow already. I also didn’t want to mess with making the pantry smaller to make more space for the tub. So, our only choice was to either notch out the studs, or turn them sideways to accommodate the tub. The studs were non-load bearing which gave us these options.
We decided to try notching out the studs to give enough wiggle room for the tub to slide in easily. Bryan notched out the studs on both sides of the wall so that the shower insert that needed to fit on top of the tub didn’t get messed up too much. After some measuring and checking, Bryan was able to get the tub to slide into the space nicely. Phew.
Next up is plumbing, fitting in the shower panels, and making sure everything fits! You’ll have to check back later to see if we ever finish this project!
Please tell me I’m not the only one with bathtub problems! Tell me about your bathroom reno nightmares or happy outcomes!