Replacing a bathtub is perhaps one of the most significant, and major, renovations going right now in home improvement, and it involves a great deal more than just buying a new tub. It’s not a do it yourself project unless the consumer has experience in plumbing (cutting, moving or replacing pipes to fit the replacement tub), carpentry (drywall and tile will need to be torn out and replaced) and possibly welding (cutting new holes for the removing the old bathtub and replacing it with a newer model). Bathtub replacement cost can often be a huge expense as well.
Typically, a standard bathtub, new from the factory or manufacturer, will run by itself around $200 to $600; this assumes a porcelain tub as the replacement. Other possibilities include cast iron bathtubs (more expensive and more durable than porcelain) and fiberglass (less expensive than porcelain, but much more fragile).
Some of the more luxurious porcelain models, particularly with ultra-hard finishes and enamel coatings, add a great deal to bathtub replacement cost, since they can run between $800 and $1400, particularly in models that are partly tub and partly spa, featuring agitators and water jets.
Fiberglass Bathtub Installation
A fiberglass tub will run between $200 and $500; their cost is economical, but they are much more fragile than porcelain or cast iron, or an acrylic liner. Fiberglass tends to crack under stress, and a number of customers who tried these models report unsatisfactory results.
Cast Iron Bathtub Installation
Cast iron tubs, new from the factory, average from $1200 to $1500, with installation running the cost of bathtub replacement up to $5000 and more. Some consumers prefer to have their old cast iron tub resurfaced with acrylic resin, a urethane coating that costs between $300 and $500 to apply.
Walk-In Bathtub Installation
A walk-in bathtub, the new option for the elderly and health conscious, can run into money: a soaker shell is usually $1500 to $2500; plumbing and fixtures (including pumps and jets, etc.) can run $3000 to $5000 and up. A complete step-in tub, installation included, will usually top out at $7000 to $25000.
Bathtub Plumbing Installation: Drain Installation
Most bathtub plumbing, including a new drain, will run, in parts and plumber’s labor, between $200 and $500, depending on the extent of plumbing, installation of pipes and prices for drain and coupling pieces (usually $20 to $30).
Bathtub Replacement Parts
These luxury items are only a few of the replacement parts that may be wanted in the process, and that will add significantly to the bathtub installation cost. Replacement parts include tub and shower knobs (priced around $8 to $10 each), sliding tub and shower door rollers (around $8 for a four-roller set), sliding door bottom guides (usually around $8 to $10) and hand-held shower attachments (from $12 to $99 and up). Plumbing parts may include pipes (a wide variety is to be had; copper, at $2-$12 a foot is the most popular), a larger hot water heater (anywhere between $150 and $4000) and floor joists (between $100 and $300 a joist). Replacement and refurbishing labor costs, between $45 and $95 per hour, along with the parts, can also increase bathtub replacement cost greatly.
Bathtub Replacement Options
In considering the cost of bathtub replacement, one might think of less expensive options: refinishing a bathtub is certainly less than bathtub installation cost, if one is looking for ideas (on average it costs $300 to $600 to refinish a dingy tub). Another possibility to avoid bathtub replacement cost is installing a bathtub liner (which can run between $500 and a whopping $4000 on average). However, if the consumer is determined to replace the tub, there are rewards, particularly aesthetic ones, in obtaining exactly the right tub that one wants.
Shower Replacement Cost
Shower replacement cost is comparable to the price of a bathtub replacement, running from $1500 to $5000, with the average at $3000; this assumes either the installation of a new unit with rolling shower doors and wall fittings, either attached to a tub or set as a separate unit. Shower replacement cost, however, can be cut down to the fine line of a new shower curtain ($40 to $100 and up) and a new showerhead ($35 to $500, depending on the model and its specs). This particular project, if done separate from a bathtub installation, probably is the least expensive option for shower replacement.
How To Replace A Bathtub
A typical bathtub replacement will take several days, up to a week and more; frequently the new tub will not easily fit into the old home, so sectional tub surrounds may be used instead. These are brought in and joined; once installed, they are indistinguishable from a solid unit.
Opening up the walls is usually the best way to remove an old tub if sectionals are not practical; it’s a time consuming project needing a construction crew’s services, and adding a great deal to bathtub replacement cost.
Once the old tub is removed (and it may be necessary to cut a section of drywall out to effect this), the pipes and plumbing must be replaced or re-soldered as well. This is one reason do it yourselfers find themselves stymied by the project, as it requires several workers with a plethora of different skills.
Usually after the old tub is removed, the real cost of bathtub replacement kicks in, as one must replace old tile and drywall, and sometimes mildewed or rusted fittings and pipes; larger pipes and a larger water heater might be needed if the tub takes up more space than the old one. The new tub is installed, grouted, tiled and tested for adequate water pressure; in all, it’s an amazingly time consuming project.
An excellent source for step by step instructions (which are too detailed to go into here) are found on Stretcher.com, which describes the methods to cut away and carry off the old bathtub; also, Family Handyman (website) provides how-to instructions in great detail for installing a new acrylic tub and surround. In all, the national average for such a project is between $1500 and $5000; expansions, such as added shower seats or expanded bathtub size, additional shower heads or body sprayers, might up the ante of the bathtub installation cost to $10,000 and more.