How to Install a Tub Surround Over Existing Tub: StepbyStep Guide for a Seamless Upgrade

How to Install a Tub Surround Over Existing Tub?

To install a tub surround over an existing tub, you will first need to measure and mark level and plumb lines on the walls for each piece.

Trim the panels if necessary for a proper fit.

Use a utility knife, hole saw, or drill bit to make cuts and holes as needed.

Apply adhesive on the back of each piece and press it to the wall, then remove it for 1-3 minutes to activate the adhesive.

Re-apply the piece to the wall and press firmly.

Clean up excess adhesive with mineral spirits.

Use masking tape to hold edges tight until the adhesive dries, which typically takes 6-12 hours.

Finally, silicone all joints in the panels and along the edges.

Key Points:

  • Measure and mark level and plumb lines on walls
  • Trim panels for proper fit
  • Make cuts and holes as needed using utility knife, hole saw, or drill bit
  • Apply adhesive to the back of each piece and press to the wall
  • Remove piece for 1-3 minutes to activate adhesive, then reapply and press firmly
  • Clean up excess adhesive with mineral spirits and use masking tape to hold edges tight while adhesive dries
  • Silicone all joints in panels and along edges.


Did You Know?

1. The first acrylic tub surround was developed in the 1960s, revolutionizing bathroom renovations by making it easier and more cost-effective to install a new tub surround over an existing tub.

2. The process of installing a tub surround involves attaching the surround panels to the walls using adhesives or screws, creating a waterproof barrier that protects the surrounding walls from water damage.

3. Many tub surround kits include integrated shelves or soap dishes, providing convenient storage space for bathing essentials within arm’s reach.

4. Some tub surrounds feature built-in massage jets, allowing homeowners to enjoy a spa-like experience in the comfort of their own bathroom.

5. While most tub surrounds are made of acrylic, there are also options available in other materials like fiberglass, tile, or stone, allowing homeowners to choose the one that best suits their personal style and preferences.

Introduction To Tub Surround Kits

Tub surround kits made of acrylic or fiberglass panels are gaining popularity as an affordable and low-maintenance alternative to ceramic tile wall enclosures for alcove enclosures in bathrooms. These kits are particularly favored for bathtubs and showers due to their ease of installation and maintenance compared to traditional tiling.

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One of the key advantages of tub surround kits is that they are cheaper and easier to install than ceramic tile wall enclosures. Additionally, they are also easy to maintain, making them a practical choice for homeowners looking for a hassle-free option.

  • Tub surround kits made of acrylic or fiberglass panels
  • Affordable and low-maintenance alternative to ceramic tile wall enclosures
  • Easier and cheaper to install compared to traditional tiling
  • Easy to maintain

“Tub surround kits are a practical choice for homeowners, providing an affordable and low-maintenance option for bathtubs and showers.”

Different Types of Tub Surround Installations

There are two primary types of installations available for tub/shower surround kits: direct-to-studs installation and adhesive-type installation.

The direct-to-studs kits are typically used for new construction or major remodeling projects where the studs are exposed. The installation process involves first installing the bathtub or shower base, followed by attaching the surround kit to the exposed studs.

On the other hand, the adhesive-type kits are designed for retrofit applications, allowing for installation on existing wall surfaces using construction adhesives.

Considerations For Direct-To-Studs Installation

When opting for a direct-to-studs installation, it is crucial to ensure compatibility between the tub or shower base and the surround kit. Some kits are specifically designed to fit certain shower bases or tubs, while others offer more flexibility and can retrofit to any appropriate-sized tub. Carefully reading the instructions before proceeding with the installation is essential to avoid any potential issues and to validate the warranty.

For direct-to-studs installations, surround kits are usually made of durable fiberglass or acrylic material and may even include built-in molded shelving. It is worth noting that while adhesive-type surrounds can be trimmed for a custom fit, direct-to-studs surrounds cannot be altered in size, so proper measurement and selection are crucial for a seamless installation.

Choosing The Right Tub Surround Kit

Before purchasing a tub surround kit, consider the size and shape of the existing tub or shower. Ensure that the size of the surround matches the width of your tub or shower, as these kits cannot be trimmed like adhesive-type surrounds. Additionally, take into account the number of pieces in the surround kit. Kits with fewer pieces result in fewer joints to seal, which minimizes the risk of future leaks. For existing tubs that may not be perfectly level, 3-piece or 5-piece units are highly recommended.

Tips For Easy And Efficient Tub Surround Installation

Installing a tub surround can be completed within 1-2 hours with the right tools and materials.

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To begin, it is essential to ensure that the wall surface is dry, mold-free, and in good condition. Using a carpenter’s level, mark level and plumb lines on the walls for each piece to ensure accurate positioning.

Trimming the panels, if necessary, is a crucial step to ensure a proper fit. This can be done using a utility knife, hole saws, or spade bits.

Furthermore, adhesive should be applied to the back of each piece, allowing it to activate for 1-3 minutes before pressing it firmly against the wall. Any excess adhesive can be cleaned using mineral spirits.

To maintain the desired position, masking tape can be used to hold the edges tight until the adhesive dries, which typically takes 6-12 hours.

  • Ensure the wall surface is dry, mold-free, and in good condition.
  • Mark level and plumb lines for accurate positioning.
  • Trim panels if necessary.
  • Apply adhesive to the back of each piece and let it activate.
  • Press the pieces firmly against the wall.
  • Clean excess adhesive with mineral spirits.
  • Use masking tape to hold the edges tight while adhesive dries.

Finishing Touches: Sealing And Caulking Joints

Once the tub surround is securely in place, it is essential to ensure waterproofing by sealing and caulking the joints. Silicone sealant should be applied to all joints in the panels and along the edges, creating a watertight barrier that prevents any potential leaks. This step helps to protect the surrounding walls and maintain the structural integrity of the tub or shower area.

Installing a tub surround over an existing tub becomes a manageable task with these step-by-step instructions. Tub surround kits not only offer an aesthetically pleasing upgrade to the bathroom but also provide a practical and cost-effective solution for homeowners.

  • Apply silicone sealant to all joints in the panels and along the edges.
  • Create a watertight barrier to prevent leaks.
  • Protect surrounding walls and maintain the tub or shower area’s structural integrity.

“Once the tub surround is securely in place, it is essential to ensure waterproofing by sealing and caulking the joints.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you put a tub surround on an existing tub?

Yes, it is possible to put a tub surround on an existing tub. When selecting a surround kit, it is important to choose one that is the right size for your tub or one that is adjustable to fit your specific dimensions. While it is common for people to replace both the tub surround and the tub simultaneously, it is not mandatory. With proper research and measurement, you can find a tub surround that is compatible with your existing tub, allowing for a seamless installation without the need to replace the tub itself.

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Can a tub surround go over existing tile?

Yes, in certain situations, a tub surround can indeed be installed over existing tile. However, this is contingent upon specific conditions being met. Firstly, the size of the old tile area must be smaller than the tub surround kit. Additionally, it is crucial to build up the surrounding wall to the same level as the tile by utilizing 1/4-inch drywall. By following these guidelines, it is possible to successfully install a tub surround over existing tile.

Can I replace a tub surround without replacing the tub?

Yes, it is possible to replace a tub surround without replacing the tub. Although it may require some work, you can leave the existing tub in place. To do so, start by removing everything down to the studs and ensure that the masonry board is in good condition for the new tub surround installation. Additionally, it is essential to assess and make any necessary structural or plumbing changes before proceeding with the replacement.

What goes behind a tub surround?

When it comes to tub surrounds, a crucial component that goes behind it is cement board or a similar moisture-resistant backing material. This is done to provide a sturdy and secure foundation for tile or panel assemblies. It is important to avoid using paper-faced backer board, such as paper-faced drywall, as it is not suitable for seamed tub and shower enclosures. By following these guidelines, the walls behind tub surrounds can withstand the moisture and ensure durability and longevity.

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