How to Install a Bathtub Tub Shower Door
Installing a bathtub shower door is a simple task and well within the ability of most homeowners. A new shower door can benefit a bathroom enormously by providing a more attractive bathtub area and keeping shower spray out of the rest of the bathroom. Consider installing your own bathtub shower door and say goodbye to obnoxious billowing shower curtains forever - it just isn't that hard to do.
A wide variety of bathtub shower doors are available, but this article is aimed at a tub door intended to fit between walls on each end of the tub. Freestanding glass doors and partitions are also available but require different installation techniques.
Even without considering other types of bathtub shower doors there is still a huge array of possibilities, from clear glass doors to frosted doors to patterned doors. Pick one within your budget and that will fit across the tub - a little extra length here is fine as it will be cut off in the installation.
Forsted bathtub shower door
Tools and supplies to install a bathtub shower door
- Drill. While a cordless drill is nice, it is unnecessary - any power drill will work.
- ¼" Drill bit. The appropriate drill bit must be used - ceramic tile will require a different bit than sheetrock or wood.
- Measuring tape.
- Screwdriver. Most likely a phillips tip screwdriver will be needed, but it might be a flat tip. Check the screws that came with the bathtub shower door.
- masking tape. Common ¾" masking will do fine.
- Hacksaw. The top and bottom tracks will most likely need to cut to length, so a saw suitable for cutting metal is needed
- Miter box. Cuts must be made square; a miter box that the saw will fit in is the best answer here.
- Level. A two foot to four foot level is recommended, but a small torpedo level will work if used carefully.
Most of these tools, except possibly the specialty drill bit for ceramic tile, should be in your own homeowners tool kit. If not, they will have to be purchased - use the opportunity to start your own homeowners tool set.
- Silicon bathtub caulk. One of the larger tubes not requiring a caulking gun should be sufficient
- Plastic anchors, with screws. These are probably supplied with the bathtub shower door, but if not will have to be supplied by the homeowner - #8 screws, 1½" long, with the appropriate plastic anchors are recommended.
- Simple cleaning supplies. The area of the bathtub where the door frame will sit needs to well cleaned.
Glass and tile drill bits from Amazon
Install the bathtub shower door
Begin installation with a thorough cleaning of the tub and wall areas where the track will go. Soap and water is fine, with perhaps a final wipe down with alcohol. Let dry completely before proceeding.
- Measure the distance between walls at the bathtub level. Check the same distance at approximately where the top track will go; if the two measurements are not within about ¼" of each other the walls will have to be fixed so that that they are parallel with each other. It is a good ideal to also check the "level" of the wall with the level - both walls need to be vertical.
- Deduct 1/8" from the distance measured at the tub level - the outside track sections will fit over the bottom track and need clearance at both ends. Lay the bottom track on the tub and verify that the side pieces will slide over them. If not, additional track will need to cut off.
- With the track on the tub, mark the inside edge with a strip of masking tape. The track sits on the tub with the higher edge to the outside; this is to prevent water from running down the doors and ending up outside the tub area. Remove the track and apply a bead of caulking down the bottom of the track, at the outside edge. This will again prevent water from seeping under the track and ending up outside the tub. No caulk is used on the inside edge of the track so that water that does manage to get under the track will drain into the tub.
- Replace the track onto the tub, using the applied masking tape as a guide for correct alignment.
- Set one of the side pieces into place over the bottom track and level it with the level. Mark the location of the screw holes on the wall behind the track. Repeat for the other side. Note in the photo to the right that the side piece is installed over tile and that the tile does not reach to the top of the side piece. In this case the tile is high enough to still give adequate support to the new door, but if the tile only comes up a foot or two other arrangements will have to be made to support the side pieces. As they are the entire support for the door it is imperative that they themselves be adequately supported.
- Carefully drill a ¼" hole into the wall. Do not try to drill ceramic tile with a normal drill bit - it will only chip the tile without drilling it. If tile covers the wall behind the side pieces a special glass and ceramic drill bit must be used. Insert the plastic anchors into the ¼" holes
- Again apply caulking to the outside edge of the side piece where it contacts the wall and carefully fit the side piece into the bottom track and against the wall. Rubber bumpers, supplied with the door, are now fitted over the screw and the screw is used to fasten the side pieces to the wall. Do not over-tighten the screws; some side tracks are not intended to fit tight to the wall at the location of the screw. Excess caulking can be wiped with a damp finger tip to provide a neat looking bead of caulk. Repeat for the other side and clean up the caulking on the bottom track now that it is held securely in place.
- Measure the length necessary for the top track and again deduct 1/8" from that measurement. Fit the top track into place over the top of the side pieces.
- Assemble the doors with handles and roller assemblies as necessary. Fit the outside door into place by tilting the bottom edge into the tub area and placing the roller onto the outside track. Repeat for the inner door. Some bathtub doors have a door guide that fits onto the bottom track; attach as necessary.
- Apply caulking to the joints where the side pieces meet the bottom track.
Congratulations: you have finished another home improvement project! Clean up any mess, empty boxes and your tools - you're ready to move on to the next project. Perhaps a new shower head to save energy and water - whatever it might be you can proceed with the secure knowledge that you really can do your own home improvement projects.
Bathtub shower door installation
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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© 2010 Dan Harmon