A Step-by-Step Guide to Safely and Effectively Remove an Old Bathtub

Removing an old bathtub and replacing it with a new one can completely transform the look and feel of your bathroom. However, removing a bathtub is no easy task. It requires careful planning, safety precautions, the right tools, and a lot of elbow grease. This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the steps needed to successfully remove a bathtub in your home.

Reasons for Removing a Bathtub

There are several reasons you may need or want to remove an existing bathtub:

  • Upgrading to a new tub: The most common reason for removing a tub is to upgrade to a newer, more modern bathtub. Older tubs can become worn, damaged, or simply out of style. Replacing it with a fresh new tub can give your bathroom a whole new look.
  • Changing the layout: If you are doing a bathroom remodel, you may want to change the layout. This often requires removing the existing tub to accommodate a new configuration.
  • Fixing leaks or damage: If the old tub has developed leaks or becomes cracked and damaged over time, replacement is likely your best option. Removing the tub provides an opportunity to repair water damage or other underlying issues.
  • Converting to a shower: Some homeowners opt to remove a standard tub to install a walk-in shower instead. This provides a more accessible and minimalist option.

No matter your reasons, removing a bathtub is a major project. Proper planning and preparation will ensure it goes smoothly.

Planning Your Bathtub Removal

Before starting demo work, take time to plan out the process. This important step will help the project go as efficiently as possible.

Gather Supplies and Tools

You will need an assortment of tools and materials to take out your old tub. Be sure to have the following on hand:

  • Pry bar
  • Sledgehammer
  • Flat pry bar
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Utility knife
  • Dust masks
  • Goggles
  • Ear protection
  • Trash bags
  • Dolly or furniture sliders
  • New plumbing supplies
  • Tarp/drop cloths

Turn Off Water Supply Lines

Locate the shut-off valves for the hot and cold water lines feeding into the tub. Turn them off to prevent water from spurting out when you disconnect the plumbing. Turning off the main water supply to the house is even better.

Clear Demo Area

Remove any items surrounding the tub, including shower curtains, shampoos, shelves, etc. You will likely make a mess during removal, so clearing the space makes clean up easier. Cover nearby surfaces with tarps or plastic sheeting.

Check for Hidden Components

Inspect under and around the tub to look for any hidden plumbing, supports, or adjacent surfaces that may need repair after removal. Knowing what to expect allows proper planning and preparation.

With these preparations completed, you can move onto the demolition.

Step-by-Step Bathtub Removal Process

Follow these key steps to safely and successfully remove a bathtub:

1. Disconnect and Remove Plumbing Fixtures

Use a wrench to unscrew the supply lines from the tub’s hot and cold water valves. Unthread any exposed drain pipes under the tub from the waste line in the floor. Remove the drain basket, overflow plate, faucet fixtures, and spout.

2. Remove Surrounding Materials

Take off any trim, wall panels, or surround materials around the top edges of the tub. Cut through caulk between the tub and walls with a utility knife. Pry off trim carefully to avoid damaging the walls.

3. Cut Away Drywall Behind Tub

Use a reciprocating saw or handsaw to cut away drywall from studs around the back side of the tub. Cutting away drywall allows you to see exactly how the tub is supported.

4. Detach Tub from Wall Studs

With the drywall removed, you can see how the tub is secured. There will likely be screws driven through the rim joist into wall studs. Use a flat pry bar to pop the tub free from the studs.

5. Break Up Bottom Base

Use a sledgehammer to break up the mortar bedding or base under the tub bottom. Wear eye and ear protection when sledgehammering.

6. Disconnect Remaining Pipes

Remove any remaining drain, P-trap, or pipe sections connecting the tub to plumbing lines. You may need to cut pipes with a reciprocating saw to fully detach.

7. Lift Tub Out

Lift up the loosened tub from below and maneuver it out. Walk it through the bathroom doorway sideways. Have an assistant help lift heavy cast iron or extra large tubs.

8. Dispose of Tub

Place the old tub in a dumpster or take it to the landfill. Most tubs are too bulky and heavy for normal garbage collection. Some recyclers will take tubs if they are in decent shape.

With the tub removed, inspect the area for any signs of leaks, water damage, or other issues. Now the space is ready for your new bathtub installation.

Safety Precautions

Demolishing a bathtub has inherent dangers. Follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Wear protective gear like goggles, gloves, dust mask, and ear plugs when sledgehammering or sawing.
  • Work carefully when using reciprocating saws and other power tools to avoid injuries.
  • Get help moving very heavy tubs to prevent muscle strains or other injuries.
  • Shore up walls or ceilings if the tub was structurally supporting any areas to prevent collapse.
  • Clean up broken porcelain shards immediately to prevent cuts on bare feet later.

Going slow and being cautious is crucial when taking out a bathtub.

Hiring a Professional

Removing a bathtub has risks and is very labor intensive. If the idea of taking out a tub yourself seems daunting, consider hiring a professional.

Pros have experience demolishing tubs safely and efficiently. They also dispose of the debris for you. This option costs more but can save you a lot of work and hassle.

Preparing the Area for a New Tub

Once the old bathtub is removed, some additional steps are required to get the area ready for a new tub installation:

  • Inspect plumbing and repair or replace any pipes or fittings as needed.
  • Add framing reinforcement around the perimeter where the old tub was secured.
  • Install new vapor barrier and cement backerboard on walls.
  • Level subfloor and lay mortar bedding if needed.

Taking time to ensure the area is prepped properly will allow for a smooth installation of your new tub.

FAQs About Removing a Bathtub

How long does it take to remove a bathtub?

It typically takes 2-3 hours to fully remove a bathtub. Exact timeframe depends on tub size, construction, plumbing, and other variables.

How much does it cost to remove a bathtub?

If hiring a contractor, expect to pay $200 – $600 depending on your location and the complexity of the job. DIY removal only requires disposal fees and your own labor.

Can I remove a bathtub myself?

With some DIY skills and the right tools, an average homeowner can tackle a bathtub removal solo. Get help lifting very heavy or awkward tubs.

What tools do I need to remove a bathtub?

Essential tools include pry bar, sledgehammer, reciprocating or handsaw, wrenches, utility knife, dust masks, and eye protection. Have a dolly to move the old tub.

How do I dispose of an old bathtub?

Most waste management companies cannot collect full bathtubs. You usually need to haul it to a dump or recycling center. Some recyclers will take tubs.


Removing an outdated or damaged bathtub provides an opportunity to upgrade your bathroom to a new fixture. While not easy, it is an achievable DIY project by following the proper steps. Ensure you detach plumbing correctly, use safe demolition techniques, and dispose of the tub properly. The result will be a fresh blank slate to install your new dream tub!

How to Remove a Bathtub


Removing and replacing a bathtub is a complex home improvement project, but one that can dramatically upgrade the look and functionality of your bathroom. However, tearing out an old tub and putting in a new one requires careful planning, safety precautions, the right tools, and some handy DIY skills.

The process involves disconnecting plumbing lines, removing surrounding materials, detaching the tub from framing, demolishing the base, lifting the tub out, and prepping for new installation. Done correctly, you can successfully remove a cast iron, acrylic, fiberglass, porcelain, or ceramic tub without damaging your walls or subfloor.

This guide covers all the key steps to safely and efficiently remove a bathtub on your own.

Reasons to Remove an Old Bathtub

There are several scenarios that may prompt you to undertake a tub removal project:

  • Upgrading Material: You may want to replace an older acrylic or fiberglass tub with a sleek new porcelain or stone tub.
  • Resizing Tub: Removing a standard 5 ft. tub to replace with a roomier corner unit or a long soaking tub.
  • Leaking/Damage: An old tub with cracks or leaks likely needs replacement to prevent water damage.
  • Layout Changes: Removal necessary to reconfigure the room layout or convert tub area into a walk-in shower.
  • Fixing Underlying Issues: Allows you to address water damage, mold, or rotting subfloor hidden below old tub.
  • Improved Accessibility: Switching to a walk-in tub or walk-in shower for easier access.

Whatever your reasons, taking out the old tub is the first step toward your dream bathroom remodel.

Supplies Needed for Removing a Bathtub

Gather the necessary equipment and tools ahead of time to make the project go smoothly:

Safety Gear

  • Sturdy work gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Ear protection, like earmuffs
  • N95 dust mask
  • Hard hat (for protecting head from debris)

Hand Tools

  • Pry bar
  • Flat bar
  • Claw hammer
  • Sledge hammer
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Hack saw
  • Utility knife


  • Headlamp or work light
  • Tarps
  • Trash bags
  • Furniture dolly or plastic sliders

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these key steps to safely and efficiently remove a bathtub:

1. Turn Off Water Supply and Drain Pipes

Locate shut off valves for hot and cold supply lines. Turn them off to prevent water spraying when disconnected. Open the tub drain and remove drain basket/plug to drain any standing water.

2. Detach and Disconnect Plumbing

Use wrenches and pliers to detach supply lines and drain pipes from tub valves and waste line. You may need to cut piping with a reciprocating saw.

3. Remove Surround Materials

Take off any surround material or wall panels around the tub perimeter. Cut through any caulk attaching tub to walls. Pry off carefully to avoid damaging walls.

4. Cut Away Walls/Drywall Behind Tub

Use a reciprocating saw or utility knife to cut away drywall behind the tub back to expose studs. This allows you to see attachment points.

5. Detach Tub from Framing

Once walls are cut back, use a pry bar and hammer to detach tub rim from any screws, nails or adhesive attaching to wall studs.

6. Break Up Bottom Mortar

Use a sledgehammer or jackhammer to demolish mortar base under tub. Wear protective gear when breaking up mortar.

7. Lift Tub Out

With mortar broken and tub detached, lift tub up and out, being careful of sharp edges. A furniture dolly helps slide it out easier.

8. Remove Remaining Debris

Sweep area well, removing all old mortar pieces, nails, screws and shards. Vacuum up dust and smaller debris.

Check for any hidden issues like leaks or damage under where the tub was. Now the area is prepped and ready for your new bathtub installation.

Key Safety Tips

  • Wear protective eyewear, gloves, ear protection and dust mask when demolition work.
  • Clear any items around the tub and cover nearby surfaces to contain dust.
  • Get an assistant for lifting very heavy tubs to prevent injury.
  • Shore up any surrounding walls or ceilings that may be unstable after tub removal.
  • Immediately clean up any sharp tile shards or porcelain pieces.
  • Turn off power tools and fully disconnect from power source before repairing or adjusting.

Hiring a Professional

Removing a bathtub has inherent difficulties and risks. If taking on the project yourself sounds daunting, consider hiring a professional.

A contractor will have the skills to:

  • Disconnect plumbing properly to avoid leaks
  • Operate demolition tools safely
  • Shore up any structural elements
  • Transport and dispose of the old tub

While pricier than DIY, hiring a pro can give you peace of mind and will save your home’s structure from damage.

Preparing Area for New Tub

With the old tub gone, several steps still remain to get the area ready for your new tub:

  • Inspect and repair or replace any damaged supply or drain plumbing.
  • Add reinforcement framing around the perimeter.
  • Install new vapor barrier and cement backerboard.
  • Make any needed subfloor repairs.

Taking time to prep correctly will ensure your new bathtub gets installed safely and functions properly for years of enjoyment.

FAQs About Removing Bathtubs

How do you remove an old cast iron tub?

Removing old cast iron tubs is labor intensive. Cut away drywall behind tub to detach from framing. Break up enamel coat and bottom mortar before prying up.

Can you remove a bathtub yourself?

With some plumbing, demolition and DIY skills, an average homeowner can tackle a tub removal solo. Get help lifting very heavy or awkward tubs.

How much does it cost to remove and replace a bathtub?

If hiring a plumber, total costs typically range from $1,500 – $4,000. DIY will be cheaper but requires more physical effort.

What tools do I need to take out a bathtub?

Must-have tools are pry bar, sledgehammer, reciprocating saw, hacksaw, wrenches, utility knife, work gloves, and safety goggles.

What is the easiest way to remove a bathtub?

The easiest method is to cut away drywall behind tub, detach from framing, disconnect plumbing, break up mortar base, then lift tub straight out.


Removing an old, damaged, or outdated bathtub is a challenging DIY project but certainly achievable by following the proper process. With some planning, safety precautions, the right tools, and a bit of demolition work, you can successfully tear out an existing tub in your bathroom. Just be sure to disconnect plumbing properly, detach tub from framing, demolish base, and make preparations for your new tub. In the end, you’ll have a blank canvas ready for an amazing, refreshed new bathroom.

How to Remove a Bathtub


Removing and replacing an old bathtub is a common home renovation project. Installing a fresh new bathtub can completely transform the look of a dated bathroom. However, safely and effectively removing the existing tub requires a careful process. This involves disconnecting plumbing, detaching the tub from surrounding materials, demolishing the base, lifting it out, and clearing debris.

This guide will outline all the necessary steps for DIYers to undertake a bathtub removal project. Learn the tools needed, safety tips, and the systematic sequence to successfully extract old tubs without damaging walls or subfloors.

Reasons for Bathtub Removal

There are several motivations that may prompt homeowners to remove and replace bathroom tubs:

  • Upgrading to a newer style tub
  • Switching from a standard tub to a walk-in model
  • Changing the layout or configuration
  • Fixing leaks or cracks in an old tub
  • Converting tub area to a walk-in shower
  • Replacing damaged or deteriorating tubs

Whatever your reasons, removing the old tub is an essential first step in the process.

Preparing for Safe Tub Removal

Before starting demolition, take time to prep your workspace. This will make the process smoother and prevent injury.

Assemble Tools & Equipment

Gather essential tools like pry bars, hammers, saws, wrenches, utility knives, buckets, and more. Safety gear like goggles, gloves, and a mask are a must.

Clear Surrounding Area

Remove shower curtains, shelves, shampoo bottles and other items around the tub space. Cover floors with a tarp to control debris.

Turn Off Water Supply

Locate shut off valves for the tub’s hot and cold water lines. Turn them off to prevent water spray during plumbing disconnection.

Check for Hidden Elements

Inspect the tub area to see if plumbing or framing is hidden behind walls. Knowing the location will help during removal.

With these preparations complete, you’re ready to move onto the demolition process.

Step-by-Step Tub Removal Instructions

Follow these key steps to remove a bathtub safely:

1. Detach Plumbing Fixtures

The first step is disconnecting the plumbing. Remove the drain basket and unscrew the drain pipe. Unthread supply valves and any P-traps or adjacent pipes.

2. Pry Off Surrounding