Removing a bathtub can be a daunting task, but with the right tools, preparation, and approach, it’s a manageable DIY project that can give your bathroom a fresh new look. Whether you’re upgrading to a new tub, changing the layout of your bathroom, or tackling a renovation project, this step-by-step guide will help you navigate through the removal process safely and efficiently.

Assessing the Project

Before you begin, it’s essential to assess the scope of the project and gather the necessary tools and materials. This includes protective gear such as gloves and safety goggles, as well as tools like a utility knife, screwdriver, adjustable wrench, and a pry bar. Additionally, have containers or buckets on hand for collecting debris and water.

Preparation and Safety Measures

Start by turning off the water supply to the bathtub. Locate the shut-off valves near the tub or the main water supply for the bathroom. Next, drain the water from the tub by opening the drain plug or using a pump if necessary. Ensure the bathroom is well-ventilated and consider wearing a respirator mask to protect against dust and debris.

removing a bathtub

Removing Fixtures and Surrounding Components

Begin by removing any fixtures attached to the bathtub, such as faucets, handles, and showerheads. Use a screwdriver or wrench to loosen and disconnect the plumbing connections carefully. Keep track of the screws and small parts by placing them in labeled bags or containers for easy reassembly later.

Disconnecting the Drain and Overflow Assembly

Locate the bathtub drain and overflow assembly underneath the tub. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws securing the overflow cover plate. Disconnect the drain linkage and overflow pipe carefully. If necessary, use a plumber’s wrench or adjustable wrench to loosen and disconnect the drain pipe from the bottom of the tub.

Detaching the Tub from the Surrounding Walls

Once all plumbing fixtures are disconnected, focus on detaching the tub from the surrounding walls. Start by cutting through any caulk or sealant between the tub and the walls using a utility knife or putty knife. Be cautious not to damage the wall surfaces. Use a pry bar or crowbar to gently pry the tub away from the walls, starting from one end and working your way around.

Lifting and Removing the Bathtub

With the tub detached from the walls and plumbing disconnected, it’s time to lift and remove it from its alcove. Enlist the help of a friend or family member to assist with lifting, as bathtubs can be heavy and awkward to maneuver alone. Lift the tub carefully, ensuring not to strain your back or drop the tub. Place the bathtub on a protective surface or old blankets to prevent damage to the floor.

removing a bathtub

Cleaning and Preparing for Installation

With the bathtub removed, take the opportunity to clean the surrounding area thoroughly. Remove any remaining caulk or adhesive from the walls and floor using a scraper or solvent as needed. Inspect the plumbing connections and drain for any signs of damage or wear. This is also an ideal time to assess the condition of the subfloor and make any necessary repairs or reinforcements.

Disposing of the Old Bathtub

Proper disposal of the old bathtub is crucial. Depending on its material (such as porcelain or fiberglass), consider recycling options if available in your area. If disposing of it yourself, check local regulations for guidelines on bulk item disposal. Ensure the tub is securely loaded onto a vehicle and transported to a designated disposal site or recycling center.

Removing Stubborn Caulk and Sealants

After removing the bathtub, you may encounter stubborn caulk or sealants that remain on the walls or floor. Use a caulk remover or solvent recommended for your specific type of caulk. Apply the remover according to the manufacturer’s instructions and allow it to soften the caulk. Then, carefully scrape away the softened caulk with a putty knife or scraper. Wipe down the area with a clean cloth to remove any residue.

Inspecting and Repairing the Subfloor

With the bathtub removed, inspect the subfloor for any signs of damage, moisture, or rot. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage and ensure a stable foundation for the new bathtub or flooring. Replace damaged sections of the subfloor if necessary, and allow sufficient time for any repairs to fully dry before proceeding with the installation of a new bathtub.

Cleaning Up and Finalizing

Once the bathtub removal and cleanup are complete, dispose of any debris and materials properly. Sweep and vacuum the area to remove dust and dirt. Clean the walls and floor thoroughly to prepare for any future renovations or installations. Take this opportunity to assess other elements of the bathroom that may need attention, such as plumbing fixtures, tiles, or lighting.

removing a bathtub

Disposing of the Old Bathtub

Once you have removed the bathtub, disposing of it responsibly is crucial. Here are some disposal options to consider:

  1. Recycling: Check if your old bathtub can be recycled. Some materials, such as cast iron or certain types of fiberglass, may be recyclable. Contact local recycling centers or scrap metal yards to inquire about their acceptance of old bathtubs.
  2. Donation: If your bathtub is in good condition and could be useful to others, consider donating it to organizations or individuals in need. Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore or local community groups may accept donations of building materials.
  3. Bulk Item Pickup: Many municipalities offer bulk item pickup services. Check with your local waste management or sanitation department for guidelines on how to schedule a pickup for large items like bathtubs.
  4. Landfill Disposal: As a last resort, if recycling or donation options are not available, you may need to dispose of the bathtub at a landfill. Ensure you comply with local regulations regarding the disposal of large items and hazardous materials.

Environmental Considerations

When disposing of an old bathtub, consider the environmental impact of your choices:

  • Recycling: Choosing recycling over landfill disposal helps reduce waste and conserve natural resources.
  • Hazardous Materials: Some older bathtubs may contain materials like lead or asbestos. If you suspect hazardous materials, consult with professionals for safe removal and disposal.
  • Local Regulations: Always follow local regulations and guidelines for waste disposal to avoid fines or penalties.

Final Steps and Recommendations

After disposing of the old bathtub, take time to clean and prepare the bathroom space for any new installations or renovations. Here are some final recommendations:

  • Clean Thoroughly: Remove any remaining debris, dust, or adhesive from the area where the bathtub was removed.
  • Inspect Plumbing: Check the condition of plumbing connections and fixtures. Address any leaks or damage before installing a new bathtub or making further renovations.
  • Plan Ahead: If you’re planning to install a new bathtub or make other changes to your bathroom layout, use this opportunity to finalize your plans and gather necessary materials.


Removing a bathtub requires careful planning, patience, and attention to detail. By following this step-by-step guide and taking necessary safety precautions, you can successfully complete the removal process and prepare for the installation of a new bathtub or alternative bathroom layout. Remember to consult professional help if you encounter challenges or are unsure about any steps involved. With proper execution, removing a bathtub can be a rewarding DIY project that enhances the functionality and aesthetics of your bathroom space.

By Vitoria