Some people treasure cast iron bathtubs, but as the finish wears down, they can transform into rusty eyesores. Claw-foot tubs are a classic style, and apron-front bathtubs are also common. Apron tubs sit flat on the floor instead of up on legs; their removal is the most challenging. Wall tiles surrounding the upper edge will probably be damaged during the demolition process unless you remove them and reinstall them later. Wear eye protection, gloves and a dust mask to protect you from flying particles and sharp edges, and gather a few of your strongest friends to help.
Things You'll Need
- Pipe wrench or large adjustable pliers
- Rotary tool with cutting wheel
- Reciprocating saw
- Utility knife
- Circular saw with diamond blade
- Demolition dumpster or access
- Heavy-duty work gloves
Shut off the water supply to the bathtub by turning the knobs counterclockwise. Some shutoffs are located on the lines above the floor and behind the tub, but many shutoffs are under the floor.
Disconnect the lines at the tub by twisting the nuts counterclockwise with a pair of pliers, if possible. If not, cut through the water supply lines, using a rotary cutting tool with a cutting wheel or a reciprocating saw.
Cut through the drain line under the tub with a reciprocating saw. If the tub sits flush with the floor, cut the drain line under the floor.
Cut around the edges of the tub with a utility knife to break the caulk seal, if necessary.
Grasp the edge of the tub and pull it away from the wall a few inches.
Hit the tub with a sledgehammer to break up as much of it as possible.
Cut the remaining large pieces into smaller, more manageable sections, using a circular saw equipped with a diamond blade.
Remove the sections from the room and place them in a city-approved dumpster or demolition waste-removal container.
Shut off the water supply behind the tub or under the floor.
Disconnect or cut the supply lines, and cut through the drain under the tub with a reciprocating saw.
Grip the lipped edge of the tub and lift it up with the help of at least four assistants, preferably more. Carry the tub from the room in one piece.
Tips & Warnings
- If you do not care to salvage a claw-foot tub, demolish and cut it in the same manner as an apron tub for easier removal.
- If the tub will not be replaced with a new one, cap the water supply lines and the drains under the floor.
- Some vintage enthusiasts are happy to buy an old claw-foot cast iron bathtub in almost any condition.
- If you are only removing the tub because of a worn finish, consider getting the opinion of a refinishing expert first.
- Cast iron tubs can weigh a few hundred pounds or more.
- If there are no supply line shutoffs, you may need to shut off all the water to that area of the house until you install a new tub or cap the lines.
- Most of the materials in this project are sharp as a razor, so wear heavy-duty gloves.
- You can disconnect and remove an apron tub without demolishing it, but the weight and size require numerous strong helpers and a large doorway.
- Photo Credit Hans Hansen/Lifesize/Getty Images
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