How To Install A Bathtub Surround
Tub surrounds can be easily installed in 1 - 2 hours but you must wait for the panel adhesive to dry 6 - 12 hours before you can apply the final silicone sealant to the joints. After it has dried overnight, you can be using your shower the next morning.
There are a few different types of surrounds available in varying amounts of pieces. Generally speaking the less pieces, the less joints that need sealing and the less chance of a leak in the future. There are one piece tub surrounds out there but in my experience when installing these, the are very difficult to get to fit perfect, especially on an existing tub that may not be perfectly level. So I would recommend a 3 piece or 5 piece unit.
Skill Level: 4/12
- utility knife
- hole saws or spade bits
- carpenters level
- caulking gun
- tub surround
- 4-5 tubes of adhesive
- masking tape
- mineral spirits
Start by preparing your wall surface. It should be dry, mold-free and in good condition. In a new bathroom remodel, paint your walls before installing the tub surround. Once you have the wall surface prepared properly, you are ready to start.
Start by first measuring all your surround pieces and with a pencil, lightly mark out level and plumb lines on the walls where each piece will be.
Tip: I usually mark my lines in a position where they will be just covered by the piece when it is applied. So you don’t have to remove the marks afterward.
Once all lines are marked, take each piece and dry fit it into position to be sure it will all work out. Sometimes it may be necessary to trim some panels so they fit properly. Use your lines you marked out to make measurements from for cutting out around plumbing and windows etc. After all these cuts are made, dry fit pieces again to be sure they fit.
Tip: Using a utility knife, hole saw, drill bit or combination of these will usually make any cuts or holes you will need.
You can now apply the tub surround adhesive on the back of each piece as you need it. After applying adhesive, apply tub surround piece to wall, lining up your lines as you would want it, press it to the wall then carefully pull it away from the wall for about 1 - 3 minutes (this will activate the adhesive properly).
After 1-3 minutes, re-apply the piece to the wall and firmly press it to the wall everywhere with your hand. Clean up excess adhesive with mineral spirits. Repeat this process for all the pieces.
Sometimes you may need to use masking tape to help hold some edges tight until the adhesive dries (about 6-12 hours). Once the surround panels are properly attached, you can silicone all the joints in the panels and silicone along the top of the tub edges where the tub meets the surround panels. Let the silicone dry as it specifies (usually 12 hours) before using shower or tub.
Your tub surround will require a regular visual inspection anywhere that the joints were siliconed to be sure thy are still sealed properly. Reseal when required.
Related bathroom articles: How to install a bathtub