St Paul Pipeworks plumbers are experiencing an increase in calls from customers that want to take out a bathtub and put a walk-in shower in its place. As people age they find it becoming more difficult to get in and out of bathtubs. Another good reason is that in general, most people prefer showering over bathing.

The challenge is that removing a tub and adding a walk-in shower is a much bigger job than replacing one of the other plumbing fixtures, like a toilet or a wash basin. When replacing a bathtub take into account that the main tub is installed all the way against the wood 2 x 4s inside the wall. This makes removal and replacement more of a major bath remodel.

Typically, when St Paul Pipeworks plumbers begin this type of project, they disconnect the toilet and the wash basin to get them out of the way. A lot of times, the bathtub needs to be broken up so it can be removed more easily by hauling it out in pieces. Then the drywall needs to be taken out and the carpenter or the general contractor strips the finished wall down to the 2 x 4s.

After the drywall is removed, the plumber comes in to change or replace the waste piping. The waste piping for a bathtub is different than the waste piping for a walk-in shower. After changing the waste piping under the floor, a new rough-in body for the shower faucet is installed. The new walk-in shower faucet needs to be placed higher up on the wall than a bathtub faucet. That is also the point at which we make sure that the shower head is at an ideal height for the customer. Often, they have been installed too low or too high so that is adjusted to the ideal height at that time as well.

That is the rough-in phase and if a customer is doing more remodeling in the room, the other pipes are adjusted at that time also. If it is an older house and there are lead waste pipes to the toilet or to the wash basin, those are replaced at the same time because it is important to get all soft lead pipes removed. Also, if there are galvanized threaded water pipes, St Paul Pipeworks plumbers recommend replacing those as well while the walls are already open. The plumbers install either PEX piping, which is a durable plastic water pipe, or copper piping in place of the galvanized pipe and then fish the new pipes into the basement so that there is a sleek new piping system.

Finally, the customer needs to select how they would like the new shower to look. Usually, it is wise to update the bathroom floor when adding the new shower floor and new shower walls. That really impacts the room. There are fiberglass showers that are less expensive, but in most cases, the customer chooses a ceramic shower. There are a plethora of choices when putting in a ceramic walk-in shower.

The customer should go to the multiple showrooms to get ideas of how they want their bathroom to look. A standard shower curtain can be replaced to fit the new walk-in shower or another popular choice is to install seamless glass doors in the place of a curtain. Once all work is completed, the plumber comes back to trim out the shower and, if the toilet and wash basin have been removed, reinstall those fixtures at that time as well.

If you are interested in remodeling, replacing a dated bathtub with a walk-in shower, or just looking for a quality plumber in the St. Paul and Minneapolis metro area, give St Paul Pipeworks a call today.

Yours Truly,
Matthew Dettwiler
Social Media Manager

Converting a bathtub to a walk-in shower? Ask a Plumber