Instructions for How to Install a Tub Surround


Installing a new tub surround enhances the overall look of your entire bathroom. Some tub surrounds also offer ways to better organize bathrooms by featuring built-in shelves around the corners or back wall, giving you much-needed space for your (or your spouse's) assortment of bathroom lotions, shampoos and soaps. Most tub surrounds are made of molded fiberglass and come in either three or five separate sections.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • Prybar
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Glue or wood screws
  • Drill/driver
  • Drywall
  • Joint compound (drywall mud)
  • Silicone caulking
  • Remove the bath/shower fixtures. It can be helpful to turn off the water supply to the tub or shower but it's not required. The bath/shower valve covers are usually easily removed with a screwdriver. The tub spigot can be taken off by either rotating it counterclockwise or using a small Allen wrench to loosen a small screw that affixes the cover to the copper pipe inside.

  • Remove the doors and/or shower rod. Depending on whether you are installing a brand new tub surround or replacing an existing one, you may need to remove these before you can begin your installation process. Most shower rods are easily removed; doors can be a little trickier, requiring use of a screwdriver.

  • Remove the old tub surround. Inspect your existing tub surround to determine how it was previously installed. Most tub surrounds are glued to the back of drywall or treated plywood. Others are designed to be screwed directly into the stud supports. In either case, plan on having to do some drywall repair work after you've removed the old tub surround and installed your new one. Use your reciprocating saw and cut around the exterior of the tub surround. Next, use your prybar and hammer to gently work the old tub surround out from the walls.

  • Prepare the wall. Examine the new surround you wish to install. Find out whether it's designed to be glued to drywall or treated plywood or whether it's the kind that can be screwed directly into the wall studs. You'll need to prepare your wall depending on the type of surround you are installing. If it's the kind that you glue on, make sure you have adequate drywall or plywood to glue to. If it's the screw-in kind, you may need to remove any existing drywall/plywood so that the tub surround can sit flush against the studs.

  • Install the new surround. Start with the back panel first and glue or screw the panel into position. Next install the side panels. Save the panel that will go over the shower and tub controls last. Carefully measure the dimensions of the pipe fittings and controls and then use your saw or drill with a wide bit to cut out around the panel where the fixtures will go. Install the panel with the copper pipes and fittings extending and then reinstall your tub spigot and valve covers.

  • Repair your walls. You may have done damage to the drywall above your tub/shower surround when removing the old one or when installing the new one. Use new drywall sheets to replace the damaged ones. Install your drywall right up next to the top and sides of the fiberglass tub surround. Use drywall mud to even out any imperfections and cover up any screw holes that might appear in your drywall. Next, texture and paint the wall for a seamless blend. Finally, use silicone caulk to form a watertight seal over the small seam between the new drywall and the tub surround.

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  • Photo Credit garden tub image by Leticia Wilson from
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