Tearing Out the Tub

I think our old tub was made of cultured marble, which isn’t nearly as fancy as it sounds. Many solid surface bathroom counters are cultured marble. They’re a step up from laminate, and have been very popular over the last few decades. Chances are that if you don’t have laminate or granite, you probably have cultured marble.

Cultured marble isn’t all bad. I actually like it. It’s an affordable alternative to natural stone, and looks beautiful in white. If you start putting faux marble veining in it, it can look cheap (and dated) quickly, but I love it in plain white.

I’m sure that it was especially fancy when this house was built in 1983. It was probably an upgrade from enameled cast iron. I’m thankful for that, because oh my word. How would I get cast iron out of my house? Have you ever held a cast iron skillet? Now imagine how much a cast iron bathtub must weigh.

Cultured marble is no fiberglass. Nope. It’s dang heavy also. But you can break it into pieces. I’m guessing cast iron doesn’t bust into pieces very easily. I really am so thankful that this wasn’t cast iron, and I’m rethinking the upstairs bathtub upgrade. Eek.

Here’s a reminder of what we had.

tub before

The hubs removed the bolts off the front. Yes, bolts on the front. I’m not sure what that was all about or if they had always been there??

(Notice the tile chips are still there. I didn’t really see any need to clean the tub at this point. Besides, who has time? I’ve been dusting the rest of the house nonstop. Or at least I should be.)

tile chips

Then he pretty easily pulled the front panel off, after cracking it with the hammer.

tub front

And then pried away the wood surround.

tub surround

The platform panels pried off without too much effort, revealing the built up frame and awesome original wallpaper.

tub platform wall paper

Then it got a bit more difficult. It took the hubs and I both to push the tub up out of the frame on one end. It was so heavy just holding one end of it up. There’s no way we were going to carry that thing out of there intact. The hubs held it with every vein in his body bulging while I grabbed a nearby piece of wood to lay across the frame and prop it up.

propped tub

The wood started cracking under the weight of the tub while the hubs grabbed the sledge hammer and goggles and I got ready for video. (Just in case he broke that window.)

sledge hammer

He whacked it into manageable pieces.

tub pieces

I’d say a square-foot piece weighed about as much as a gallon of milk. I brought in the cleanup crew and let them get the small chunks while I carried out the heavier ones. Someday that will be reversed. Someday too soon.

cleanup crew tub cleanup tub piece

Our new bathtub is fiberglass. It weighs 126 pounds, according to the manufacturer. The hubs and I can handle that much weight on our own, but we’ve got a lot more work to do before we’re ready for that.

Oh, I should mention that we found where at least one mouse had been hanging out. At first glance, the hubs was afraid this was termite larvae (that would have been horrible!), but it’s just rice.


A mouse must have been coming and going from underneath the brick here at the back wall and making his way under the tub and through the wall into the pantry.

tub roughin

Obviously I went immediately to throw out the rice. Ewww!! I think the mice are gone, but I’ll be lining the drain area and back wall with steel wool to prevent any future visitors from tunneling through. I also researched exactly how much room we need around a drain. This seemed excessive to me.

tub drain

We’ll be filling this part in anyway, because the new drain has to be relocated. It’s a front drain in a corner tub, whereas this one was at the right hand end of an oval tub.

front drain

The hubs busted out the concrete for the new drain while we had the jackhammer rented. (There is a different attachment for that than the one for tearing up tile, but I forgot to get a picture of it.) He has done this before with a circular saw and chisel. You can score the concrete with the blade and then chip it out. No matter how you do it, it’s going to be dusty.


We measured from the back corner and then used a plumb bob to make sure we were hitting the right spot.

plumb bob

The hubs had to remove the front of the former tub frame to be able to cut away the 4″x12″ amount recommended.

remove frame

new drain cutout drain cutout

He abandoned the bathroom and moved on to tearing out the kitchen tile while he had the jackhammer rented.

He came back to the bathroom a different day and pried and hammered away at the old frame piece by piece until it was all removed.

remove frame2 remove frame3

As of the time I’m typing this, the bathtub corner looks like this…

tub removed

It’s my job to prep those walls for tile (patch holes, skim coat with joint compound, and paint), and the hubs’ job to run the new plumbing and fill in the old hole.

The first replacement tub we purchased came with a cracked corner, but then Lowe’s brought us a new one. It’s just hanging out in our bedroom and will be the first new installation. We have lots more demo and prep work to do first, though.


Tell me what you think