How to Convert a Bathtub Into a Walk-in Shower – The Ultimate Guide

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The short answer is simple. Get rid of your old caked bathtub. Well, it’s not that easy, but that's why we're here for you!
Convert Bathtub Into Walk-in Shower

Follow through this step-by-step article and you will learn how to convert a bathtub into a walk-in shower.

Perhaps you’re intrigued by the idea of making your bathroom a more spacious and highly functional area.

That’s exactly the result you’ll get by converting your bathtub into a walk-in shower. 

There’s a lot to consider, though…

If that means your home will be deprived of a tub entirely, you want to weigh your decision carefully!

If you make the wrong pick here, you are risking seriously ruining your bathroom’s functionality.

Furthermore, that can lead to significant bathroom remodeling, especially if you have babies and toddlers, making bath time in the shower rather tricky.

This DIY project is not as perplexing as it may seem.

All you’ll need is a conversion kit and taking a few measurements.

But, one thing is for sure…

It’ll make your bathroom look more prominent, easier to use and increase the resale value of your home.

In this article we’ll go through:

  • What to consider;
  • How to properly tackle this project;
  • Approaching it in an organized manner;
  • Avoiding the plumber’s expense.
  • Lots more…

So let’s get started!

Table of Contents

How to Convert Your Bathtub Into a Gorgeous Shower?

Having a hard time climbing over the bathtub when you want to take a shower can certainly poke your insecurities and add up to your struggles.

But no worries!

For your peace of mind and showering with ease, you will want to convert your tub to a walk-in shower.

A straightforward project, especially with a prefabricated kit. 

All you’ll need to do is get rid of the old bathtub from your bathroom. You’ll then proceed to install the necessary fixtures you have in the plan.

And, let me tell you something…

We’re big fans of dual shower heads and for a reason!

However, if you’ve already envisioned how your shower will look, we’ll help you start the process and get over the hump, so follow through with this step-by-step guide. 

Step 1: Settle a Size for Your Shower

First things first. You have to make your mind what the shower footprint will be.

Suppose your tub dimensions are 60 inches by 30 inches (60” x 30”).

Consider going for a shower stall that is approximately the same size as your bathtub.

Generally, shower stalls are 60 inches long and can vary from 30 inches to 36 inches in width. 

Additional spacing requirements for walk-in showers to keep in mind are 80 inches in height, minimum of 15 inches from the side of the toilet and the shower wall, or at least 21 inches connecting the front of the toilet and the shower wall.

How to convert bathtub into a shower

The available bathroom floor space places a crucial role in determining the size of your walk-in shower.

That said…

…your best choice would be to choose a shower stall close to the size of your tub. 

With the shower stall covering the footprint of your old bathtub, you’ll have one less expense when it comes to floor repairing.

Keep in mind:

If you’re leaning towards a square-shaped shower area, walls and floor repairs will certainly cost you some more, so take into account.

Keeping the old footprint in place, with the shower pan and walls covering most of the old footprint, you’ll save a fortune by staying away from significant repair work on the walls and the flooring.

Step 2: Secure Necessary Remodeling Permits

Before you move on with the bathroom improvement, confirm with your local building agency for requirements. 

In case you might be asking yourself…

Many municipalities require permits for tub-to-shower conversions because plumbing will very likely need to be moved. 

Asking your local authorities beforehand will save you the trouble.

Step 3: Shut-off the Water Supply

You’ll want to prevent getting your bathroom flooded and ruining your remodeling endeavors.

So… before detaching the bathtub from its unique spot, make sure to turn off the water supply.

If there is an intermediary shut-off valve connected with your bathtub, use it to turn off the water supply to your tub.

If that’s not the case, shut off your home’s main water shut-off valve before you begin working on this project.

Step 4: Remove the Bathtub Surroundings

Prepare the area for your bathtub removal.

For more accessible and more convenient cleanup during the demolition process, you’ll want to lay a blanket or ram board into the tub, protecting it from tile damage. 

To tear the tub free…

….first, you’ll want to use an oscillating multi-tool or a pry bar and start removing the tub surround.

Chipping off a surround made of ceramic tile will depend on the combined use of a hammer and a pry bar.

Whenever the surround is plastic, you’ll have to peel off the surround from the studs, cement board, and drywall because, most likely, it will be glued to the substrate materials.

Step 5: Remove the Bathtub

Annnnd now! With the tile and hardware out of the way. The moment! That you’ve been waiting for! Iiiits time!!!

Get rid of your old tub!

Start by removing the screws and nails connecting the tub to the wall studs.

Use a utility knife to cut through the caulk connecting the tub and the floor.

If it’s too much to wrestle with, get a helper.

Attempt to remove the tub by prying it up from one side away from the wall.

In case of narrow doorways or lack of a helper, use a jigsaw. Cut the bathtub in half and take one piece at a time to the dumpster.

If you’re having trouble accommodating one of the outer corners of the tub as you swing it upwards, you will have to remove a small portion of the drywall next to the tub’s area.

Step 6: Clean the Demolished Area

Once you’ve successfully removed the old bathtub, thoroughly clean it by removing nails and screws from the studs and any debris that came off from peeling the surround.

Get the area perfectly spotless of any remains before moving on to the next step.

Step 7: Repair the Flooring and Studs

Removing the bathtub will likely reveal joists, studs, or the subfloor underneath.

This will need to be assessed and fixed before you can move on to installing a shower pan over it. 

To save yourself time, you’ll be best off by hiring a carpenter for this step.

Step 8: Rough-in the Shower Controls and Showerhead

The initial water outlets and bathtub controls are set up vertically at a reasonably low height for bathtub use.

However, with tub-to-shower conversion, the controls and water outlets should be positioned higher.

Why’s that?

Some variables depend on the type of controls, so it’s best to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Most of the time, the valve’s body should sit at about 45 to 48 inches over the shower floor, along with the showerhead centered at 78 inches.

Step 9: Evaluate the Drain

If the old bathtub drain is in good condition and in the right place to suit the new shower drain, there’s no reason to move it. 

Depending on its location, you might need to remove a portion of a wall to access it, as it may need minor vertical adjustment with an extender.

Should you need to change the drain…

…you’ll need to add extra horizontal plumbing and re-locate the drain below the subfloor to its new position.

Then you’ll need to cut a hole in the subfloor so that you can add a drain and flange connecting them to the new shower pan.

Step 10: Install the Shower Pan

To prevent leakage, you’ll want to secure the shower pan in place, ensuring proper waterproofing.

This can be achieved by putting the shower base before installing any tile or wallboards.

Shower pans from respective manufacturers come with varying requirements. 

That said, you may need to create a mortar bed for a solid shower pan that doesn’t flex.

Alternatively, you might be required to secure the lip of the shower pan with nails and screws onto the wall studs. In both cases, follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Step 11: Install the Shower Surround

With the shower pan in place, next comes the installation of the shower surround panels.

First, you’ll want to form the back panel by installing the more comprehensive shower surround panel.

Then, install the second surround panel that doesn’t have the shower controls.

For the side shower surround panel, you’ll need to drill holes in it for the controls and showerhead before you get to install the panel on the wall. 

For moisture resistance, embed the panels to the wall studs and caulk directly between the seams.

Step 12: Install the Door to Shower Section

To finalize your shower area, you can choose between installing a swing-type or a sliding shower door.

If you’re looking for a cozier and private feeling, then a shower area with a door will tick the box for you.

Step 13: Install the Controls and Showerhead

Install the showerhead and controls by aligning the shower rough-ins with the surrounding panel’s previously drilled holes.

Suppose you’re looking to enhance your showering experience.

In that case, unique fixtures such as rainfall showerheads or adjustable height ones will add luxury to your shower and a few hundred dollars to your bill.

Step 14: Turn on the Water Supply

BEHOLD! Your new shower!

With everything in place, it’s time to give it a test and examine for leaks by turning on the water supply.

Ensure that the water is properly draining and all the fixtures are functioning correctly.

Helpful Advice for Converting Tub to Shower

Converting a bathtub to a walk-in shower introduces opportunities to improve the rest of the bathroom.

With that said…

You should be mindful and plan ahead, as mistakes can be consequential and force you to tear out the new shower, which is something that you’d want to avoid.

To make sure that your tub-to-shower replacement turns worth the investment in the long run, consider the following factors. 

  • Windows in your tub area.
    • Isn’t recommended! That posseses a threat for mold and mildew to grow, resulting in an additional bathroom renovation in the long run. That said, you’ll want to wall it off or perhaps tile over it if you have one.
  • Get the best value for the money.
    • Getting a shower stall kit will help you get a gorgeous shower while meeting your style and taste within a reasonable price.
  • Before installing your shower.
    • Make sure your plumbing is in good condition and up to code. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (KNBA) advises modification for an existing alcove tub, such as adding short wall sections to achieve finished shower space at 36 inches deep. While you’re at it, consider replacing your shower fixtures or rotted valves with new ones that come with better volume and temperature control.
  • Inspect the subfloor and the area’s framing.
    • Look for signs of deterioration, mold, and mildew. You’ll want to get rid of them before building and adding a floor to your shower.
  • Accommodate a person with mobility issues.
    • Consider getting a curbless walk-in shower for greeted accessibility.
  • Consider creating a large walk-in shower.
    • With sufficient space (minimum of 36” x 36” ADA recommendation) to work which leaves plenty of room for amenities that’ll improve the showering experience. Putting a bench, building shelves for shampoo and toiletries, or even adding a shower panel system will revolutionize your shower!
  • Safety comes first.
    • You’ll want to keep your floor dry and decrease the chances of slips by looking into the option of installing a heated floor to your shower. 
  • Increasing your shower’s durability.
  • How will a tub replacement factor into your family’s lifestyle needs?
    • Living a busy lifestyle favors getting in and out of the shower rather than soaking into the tub. However, it can be a faulty transition, specifically if you live with older people. Additionally, bathing small children is more accessible in a tub than in a shower, and houses with a single bathroom benefit the most from a shower and tub combination. If that’s your case, consider upgrading the bathtub instead of replacing it entirely.
  • Getting rid of your only tub in the house might be a poor idea…
    • Well… if you’re planning to sell the house; According to Realtor Magazine, the benefits of at least one tub in the home are appealing to many homeowners, particularly if they have small children, which will make bathing relatively easy. 

Conclusion: How To Convert a Bathtub Into a Walk-in Shower

Performing a tub to shower conversion can seem overwhelming at first, but it is an easy, straightforward project, and it’s certainly a huge accomplishment for any homeowner!

It requires careful planning and attention to detail, resulting in added value at a reasonable cost to your property. 

This DIY project allows you to upgrade your home without performing a complete bathroom remodeling.

It will increase your confidence, but when in doubt, working with a professional will give you that peace of mind. Hopefully, you’ve found these tips valuable, and your showering space has been put to better use!