New Tub Over Existing Tub: A Practical Renovation Guide

Bathroom Remodel
Written by: Emily Simmons
October 10, 2023

Bathroom renovations can be both exciting and daunting. While the idea of a fresh, new space is appealing, the thought of the mess, time, and expense can be overwhelming. One solution that has been gaining popularity is installing a new tub over existing tub. But what does this entail, and is it the right choice for you?

Explore our guide on installing a new tub over an existing one. Dive into the benefits, types of tubs available, and key considerations before undertaking this renovation.

What Is A Tub Over Existing Tub?

A tub over an existing tub, commonly referred to as a bathtub liner, is essentially a cover that fits over your current bathtub. These liners are typically made from PVC plastic or acrylic and are molded to fit the exact shape and size of your existing tub. Once molded, they are placed over the tub and glued down, providing a fresh, new surface.

Several companies offer this service, and the process usually involves taking precise measurements of your current tub to ensure a perfect fit. The liner is then manufactured based on these measurements. During installation, the existing tub is cleaned and prepared, and the liner is secured in place. The result is a tub that looks brand new without the need for a complete replacement.

Benefits Of Getting A Tub Over An Existing Tub

  • Cost-Effective: One of the primary benefits of opting for a tub over an existing tub is the cost savings. Replacing an entire bathtub can be expensive, not just for the new tub itself but also for the labor involved in removing the old one and installing the new one. A liner, on the other hand, is generally more affordable and requires less labor.

  • Time-Saving: Traditional bathtub replacements can take several days, especially if there are complications. With a bathtub liner, the process can often be completed in just one day, minimizing disruption to your daily routine.

  • Low Maintenance: Bathtub liners boast low-maintenance characteristics, making them perfect for homeowners tired of scrubbing grout that never seems to come clean.

  • Modern Appearance: If your existing tub has seen better days, showing signs of wear, stains, or fading, a liner can instantly update its appearance. You get the look and feel of a brand new tub without the hassle of a full replacement.

  • Protection Against Leaching Lead: For homes with older porcelain bathtubs made before 1974, there’s a risk of lead leaching. Installing a new acrylic bathtub liner can protect against this risk, ensuring a safer bathing environment for your family.

  • Customization: Many companies offer a range of styles, colors, and finishes for bathtub liners, allowing homeowners to customize the look to their preferences.

  • Durability: High-quality bathtub liners are designed to last, often coming with warranties that attest to their longevity.

Considerations Before Installing A Tub Over An Existing Tub

Before you decide to install a new tub over existing tub, there are several factors you should consider to ensure the project is successful and meets your needs. Let’s delve into these considerations:

Measurements And Space Requirements

  • Exact Dimensions: Before installing a tub over an existing tub, it’s crucial to take precise measurements of your current tub. This will ensure that the new liner fits perfectly over the old tub.

  • Clearance: Ensure there’s enough clearance or free space surrounding the tub to enter and exit safely. A space of at least 60” x 30” is considered sufficient for most standard tubs.

  • Additional Space: For certain types of tubs, such as clawfoot, pedestal, or freestanding tubs, you’ll need at least 6 inches of additional space end-to-end.

Construction Project Requirements

  • Professional Installation: While some homeowners might consider this a DIY project, it’s recommended to hire professionals. They have the expertise to handle unexpected challenges and ensure the liner is securely in place.

  • Plumbing Adjustments: Depending on the design of the new tub liner, some adjustments might be needed to the existing plumbing.

  • Wall Surround: If you’re also considering a wall surround, ensure that it’s compatible with the tub liner and that it meets your aesthetic preferences.

Limited Mobility Or Accessibility Needs

  • Walk-In Tubs: For those with limited mobility or disabilities, walk-in tubs are an excellent option. They come with built-in seating and therapeutic jets for muscle relief.

  • Grab Bars: Installing grab bars can enhance safety, especially for the elderly or those with mobility challenges.

  • Non-Slip Flooring: Consider adding non-slip mats or flooring around the tub area to prevent accidents.

Cost Of Demolition And Disposal Of Old Materials

  • Removal Costs: Removing an old tub can cost between $59 and $108. This includes breaking the tub, if necessary, to move it out of the house.

  • Disposal Fees: Depending on your locality, there might be fees associated with disposing of the old tub or any other construction debris.

  • Recycling: Some materials might be recyclable, which can reduce disposal costs.

Preparation Of The Subflooring For New Installation

  • Inspect Subfloor: Before installing the new tub, inspect the subfloor for any signs of damage or rot. Any issues should be addressed before proceeding.

  • Strengthening The Subfloor: If the new tub is considerably heavier than the old one, you might need to reinforce the subfloor to support the additional weight.

  • Leveling: Ensure that the subfloor is level. If not, you might need to use self-leveling compounds or shims to create a flat surface.

  • Waterproofing: Consider adding a waterproof membrane or layer to protect the subfloor from potential water damage.

Different Types Of Tubs Available For Installation Over Existing Tubs

When considering installing a new tub over an existing one, it’s essential to be aware of the different types of tubs available in the market. Each type offers unique features and benefits, catering to various preferences and bathroom layouts. According to a survey by Houzz, nearly two out of five renovating homeowners (37 percent) chose to upgrade a bathtub during their master bathroom overhaul. Among that group, 64 percent chose a freestanding flat-bottom tub, while 22 percent selected a freestanding claw-foot tub. Here’s a breakdown of the various tub types suitable for installation over existing tubs:

  1. Alcove Bathtub

  • Description: Alcove bathtubs are designed for installation in recessed areas of bathrooms, surrounded by three walls. They are the most common type of tub and are ideal for smaller bathrooms.

  • Benefits: Efficient use of space, often comes with a built-in shower, and is cost-effective.

  1. Drop-In Bathtub

  • Description: Drop-in tubs are designed to be “dropped” into a pre-built frame or platform. Only the inside of the tub is visible once installed.

  • Benefits: Offers flexibility in design, can be installed in various settings, and provides a sleek, modern look.

  1. Corner Bathtub

  • Description: As the name suggests, corner bathtubs are designed to fit into a corner of the bathroom. They are often larger and can accommodate two people.

  • Benefits: Space-saving, offers a luxurious bathing experience, and is perfect for romantic evenings.

  1. Freestanding Bathtub

  • Description: Freestanding tubs stand alone and are not attached to any walls. They come in various designs, from modern to vintage clawfoot styles.

  • Benefits: Acts as a statement piece, offers flexibility in placement, and provides a spa-like experience.

  1. Clawfoot Bathtub

  • Description: A subtype of freestanding tubs, clawfoot bathtubs stand on four ornate feet, giving them a vintage appeal.

  • Benefits: Adds a touch of elegance and luxury, is deep for a relaxing soak, and is a timeless design.

  1. Soaking Bathtub

  • Description: These tubs are deeper than standard tubs, allowing users to immerse their entire body for a deep soak.

  • Benefits: Provides a therapeutic bathing experience, relieves muscle tension, and is perfect for relaxation.

  1. Walk-In Bathtub

  • Description: Designed for those with mobility issues, walk-in tubs have a door that allows users to walk into the tub without having to climb over the side.

  • Benefits: Enhances safety, often comes with therapeutic jets, and is perfect for seniors or those with disabilities.

  1. Whirlpool Bathtub Or Jacuzzi Bathtub

  • Description: These tubs come with built-in jets that circulate water, providing a massage-like experience.

  • Benefits: Offers therapeutic benefits, relaxes sore muscles, and provides a spa-like experience at home.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about getting a new tub over an existing tub.

What is a tub over an existing tub?

A tub over an existing tub, often referred to as a bathtub liner, is a cover made from materials like PVC plastic or acrylic that fits over your current bathtub, providing a fresh, new surface.

How long does it take to install a tub over an existing tub?

While the exact time can vary based on the complexity of the project, most bathtub liners can be installed in just one day.

Is installing a tub over an existing tub cost-effective?

Yes, installing a tub over an existing one is generally more affordable than a complete bathtub replacement, both in terms of material costs and labor.

Can I install a tub over an existing tub myself?

While some homeowners might consider it a DIY project, it’s recommended to hire professionals to ensure a secure fit and to handle any unexpected challenges.

Do I need to reinforce my subfloor before installing a new tub over the existing one?

It depends on the weight of the new tub. If the new tub is considerably heavier than the old one, you might need to reinforce the subfloor to support the additional weight.

Are there any special maintenance requirements for a tub installed over an existing tub?

Bathtub liners generally boast low-maintenance characteristics. However, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions to ensure the liner’s longevity.

Getting A New Tub Over Existing Tub

While a new tub over existing tub might not be the right solution for everyone, it offers a practical and efficient way to upgrade your bathroom without the mess, time, and expense of a full renovation. When considering a new tub over an existing one, it’s essential to choose a type that aligns with your bathroom’s layout, your aesthetic preferences, and your functional needs. Each tub type offers unique benefits, ensuring there’s a perfect fit for every homeowner.

Discover how to turn your bathtub into a walk-in shower by checking out our guide. To learn more, visit Bathroom Ready and explore the available resources.

Bathroom Remodeling & Installation

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