Upon arrival, after introducing myself to the customer, I check out their bathroom real quick to take some measurements to make sure the tub will fit before we go any further. I am checking for door size and any other obstructions that may hinder the installation. So I notice it is an all-in-one fiberglass tub and shower enclosure. I know that I will have to cut the panels and cut some sheet rock and carefully remove this piece by piece. I have done this many times and it is very easy if you are careful with the removal.
After I have a game plan in my head for how the job will proceed, the next step is to the get the customers out to try the tub for size. This is very important as people come in all shapes and sizes. On a few occasions I have had to order a larger tub and also a smaller tub just to get the right fit for the customer. So they come out to try the tub and I answer any questions they may have. This is the first time the customers get to see the tub in person. Their normal reaction is “wow, that’s big”. The average walk-in tub sits at about 40″ high, which is about twice as high as a regular tub.
The first part is to strategically cut the sheet rock and the panels so as to minimize any damage and repair work. I use a multi-master plunge cutting tool which has an oscillating blade for accurate cuts that do not go too deep. Behind these panels could be electrical wires and/or plumbing pipes. So the water is off at the mains at this point, just in case. This sometimes takes time since some customers do not know where to turn their main water off. With the water off and my blade shallow, I am confident that I won’t hit anything. With the panels cut into 3, we pull them off to expose bare studs.
With the tub and wall panels removed, we inspect for termite damage, water damage, mold, and structural damage. If the floor looks like it has suffered from water damage in the past, we will replace the sub-floor to brace and support the joists if necessary. It is a lot of weight in a small area, so the floor must be strong.
Moisture resistant sheet rock and FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastic) are installed on the walls. This will ensure a water tight enclosure once finished.
The supply lines are cut and ball valves are installed so we can turn the main water back on.
To trim out the FRP, I use PVC lattice trims. They are very durable and look fantastic. This is what it looks like all finished, all tested, and cleaned ready for demonstration. This is a pretty basic installation, very common to see fiberglass shower enclosures, this whole process took 8 hours from start to finish. The tub can be used 24 hours from when I leave.
“Very good workmanship.” L.C. from Great Falls, MT
In future posts I will go into a lot more detail about all the steps including electrical, plumbing, trim-work, carpentry, and a lot more custom work will follow.