Three-piece Tub Surrounds - Part 1 of 2

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No one wants bathroom fixtures that are aging or yellowed from years of use. A shiny new tub surround can add sparkle and freshness to your dream bath.

 

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Overview

No one wants bathroom fixtures that are aging or yellowed from years of use. A shiny new tub surround can add sparkle and freshness to your dream bath.
Tub surrounds come in many different styles, materials, and price ranges. Choose the features you want and measure your existing bathtub surround for sizing. Surrounds typically come in three or five pieces. A three-panel surround is being installed here, but the process is similar for five-panel systems.
Surface preparation is important for good glue adhesion. Plastic tiles and wallpaper must be removed and textured plaster must be sanded smooth. Surrounds can be installed over ceramic tile that is well attached and in good condition, but it must be sanded and primed. All surfaces must be primed with a water-based primer.

What You'll Need

Tools:

Jigsaw
Hole saw
Drill
Measuring tape
Level
Caulking gun
Adhesive
Screwdriver
Adjustable wrench
Pry bar
Hammer
3-piece tub surround

Materials:

Jigsaw
Hole saw
Drill
Measuring tape
Level
Caulking gun
Adhesive
Screwdriver
Adjustable wrench
Pry bar
Hammer
3-piece tub surround

 

Step 1

How to Install a 3-piece Tub Surround - Step 1

Remove the old plumbing fixtures and wallcoverings in the tub area. In some cases you can attach surround panels to old tileboard or even tile, but it is generally best to remove the wallcoverings down to the studs if you can, so you may inspect for leaks or damage.


Step 2

How to Install a 3-piece Tub Surround - Step 2

Replace the wallcoverings with appropriate materials, such as water and mold resistant wallboard or cementboard (for ceramic tile installations). Make sure the new wall surfaces are smooth and flat. Some surround kit manufacturers recommend that you apply a coat of primer to sheet goods such as greenboard to create a better bonding surface for the panel adhesive.


Step 3

How to Install a 3-piece Tub Surround - Step 3

Test-fit the panels before you start; the tub may have settled unevenly or the walls may be out of plumb. Check the manufacturer’s directions for distinguishing right and left panels. Place a panel in position on the tub ledge. Use a level across the top of the panel to determine if it is level. Create a vertical reference line to mark the edge of the panel on the plumbing end.


Step 4

How to Install a 3-piece Tub Surround - Step 4

After performing the testfit, check the fitting instructions to see if you need to trim any of the pieces. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cutting. Here, we had to cut the corner panels because the instructions advise not to overlap the back or side panel over the corner panels by more than 3". Cut panels using a jigsaw and a fine-tooth blade that is appropriate for cutting fiberglass or acrylic tileboard.


Step 5

How to Install a 3-piece Tub Surround - Step 5

Lay out the locations of the faucets, spout, and shower arm. Measure in from the vertical reference line (made in Step 3) and up from the top of the tub ledge. Re-measure for accuracy, as any cuts to the surround are final. Place the panel face-up on a sheet of plywood. Mark the location of the holes. Cut the holes 1⁄2" larger than the pipe diameter. If your faucet has a recessed trim plate, cut the hole to fit the recess. Using a hole saw or a jigsaw, cut out the plumbing access holes.


Step 6

How to Install a 3-piece Tub Surround - Step 6

Apply the panel adhesive to the back of an end plumbing panel. Circle the plumbing outlet holes 1" from the edge. Follow the manufacturer’s application pattern. Do not apply adhesive closer than 1" to the double-sided tape or the bottom edge of the panel.


Step 7

How to Install a 3-piece Tub Surround - Step 7

Remove the protective backing from the tape. Carefully lift the panel by the edges and place against the corner and top of the tub ledge. Press firmly from top to bottom in the corner, then throughout the panel.


Step 8

How to Install a 3-piece Tub Surround - Step 8

Test-fit the opposite end panel and make any necessary adjustments. Apply the adhesive, remove the protective backing from the tape, and put in place. Apply pressure to the corner first from top to bottom, and then apply pressure throughout.


Step 9

How to Install a 3-piece Tub Surround - Step 9

Apply adhesive to the back panel following the manufacturer’s instructions. Maintain a 1" space between adhesive tape and the bottom of the panel. Remove protective backing from the tape. Lift the panel by the edges and carefully center between the two end panels. When positioned, firmly press in place from top to bottom.


Step 10

How to Install a 3-piece Tub Surround - Step 10

Apply caulk to the bottom and top edges of the panels and at panel joints. Dip your fingertip in water and use it to smooth the caulk to a uniform bead.


 
 

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