Insulating a Bathtub: How-To With Photos

Updated on March 21, 2018
Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren is a one-person fixer of "TLC Needed" houses. She explains methods simply to homeowners who are not in the construction trades.

No Wonder the Bathwater Cools Quickly

Look at the underside of this bathtub - nothing but air from uninsulated walls and floor.
Look at the underside of this bathtub - nothing but air from uninsulated walls and floor. | Source

Problem: Bath Water Rapidly Drops in Temperature

If I weren't ripping my house and bathroom apart for other reasons, I probably would not address the situation of an un-insulated bathtub. However, since I am tearing the bathroom (and adjoining rooms) down to the studs, this is a great opportunity to remedy a pet bathtub peeve of mine.

Maybe in generations before me, a bather did not stay and soak in a tub long enough to feel it chill down, but I doubt that. Perhaps in those days when we were not as conscious about the limited resources of the earth, about saving energy and money, people could heat their bath rooms to steam room temperatures for as long as they wished. But now we are in "today," and many of us living with old tubs that allow heat to escape.

Although I am more of a shower-er than a bath-er, there are times when I want to soak. One instance in particular is after an afternoon of sled riding. I want to be able to warm myself up in a hot tub. Other times, a family member needs to be able to soak a body part (for example, sore back, derriere, leg) for medical reasons. Wouldn't it be good to have the water temperature comfortable the entire time? Thus, we come to HOW to insulate that tub!

Bathtub Insulating Supplies

  • Whatever tools you need to open up the wall(s) touching the tub
  • Whatever supplies you need to close those walls afterwards
  • Work gloves to protect your hands
  • Face mask and googles for the same reasons
  • Utility knife
  • Optional: bubble wrap packaging
  • Fiberglass insulation rolls, unfaced or faced
  • A 3 to 4 foot long sturdy pole, such as a broom handle or a vacuum cleaner pole

Insulating Materials

A utility knife rests on a "Pink Panther" fiberglass insualtion roll.
A utility knife rests on a "Pink Panther" fiberglass insualtion roll. | Source
Common packaging bubble wrap.
Common packaging bubble wrap. | Source

Find the Trouble Spots

I had removed all the layers of my bathroom walls and learned that there was absolutely NO insulation in either exterior or interior walls. In my house the tub sits along an exterior wall. One end rests against an adjoining bedroom. The faucet end rests against a tiny closet in the bathroom. In addition, I have a partial view of underneath the tub from my unfinished basement. At the point where plumbing pipes go through the floor, there is a hole through which I can further ascertain the un-insulatedness of the tub. (Sigh...)

By cutting into each side wall, I was able to crack open the wall enough to see that my tub unit has vertical side walls which are absolutely empty, "unfilled" and available for insulation.

The Spots Waiting for Insulation

A "naked" tub end.  Look at all that air space greedily clamoring to steal the heat from the tub water!
A "naked" tub end. Look at all that air space greedily clamoring to steal the heat from the tub water! | Source
A more distant view.  One can see where the interior wall insulation ends and then: nothing.  No insulation.
A more distant view. One can see where the interior wall insulation ends and then: nothing. No insulation. | Source

The Procedure

(Ok. I decided that I did not want to lift the tub unit up to put insulation along the exterior wall and underneath it. Nonetheless, that is an option for the strong and hardy among you.)

I had read that even common packaging bubble wrap will perform heat insulating, so I gathered up what I had in the house. I figured that those pieces would be easier to stuff into small spaces. So, I shoved them towards the back, exterior wall which I could not reach. Then, I used a broom handle to further shove them into place.

After that, I used my tape measure to roughly estimate the length pieces of roll insulation to be place around each tub end. Then, wearing protective gloves,I cut those lengths with my utility knife and place them inside. The broom stick was again used to help push and position insulation.

Plenty of Potential Space to Insulate

Diagram of tub.
Diagram of tub. | Source

Easy

As I positioned and pushed the insulation around the bathtub, I was pleased to find that it stayed in place. I think that this is because the space is tight to begin with and that the insulation naturally expands a little. One should not cram in so much that the insulation cannot expand. If that happens, it is less effective. Insulation is designed to have copious little air spaces.

Wrap the Tub with Insulation

A roll of fiberglass insulation around a tub end.
A roll of fiberglass insulation around a tub end. | Source
Another view of  roll insulation around a bathtub end.
Another view of roll insulation around a bathtub end. | Source

A Few Words about Insulation Type

I used rolls because this was a DIY project. Faced insulation (it has paper on one side) is NOT needed, but you can see from my photos that this is what I used. The reason is that my local big box hardware stores do not carry much unfaced insulation. Another option for people who have the correct equipment is blow-in insulation. That was beyond my experience at that time and, in my unschooled mind, too dangerous for me to attempt.

Finished Tub Insulation

This is a great improvement over a cold bathtub.
This is a great improvement over a cold bathtub. | Source

Close the Walls

For me, cardboard, plywood and white duct tape are holding the air inside the two walls I opened. That is because more work is scheduled for the bathroom closet and for the adjoining bedroom. However, if you are completely done working on the areas you needed to open, do what you wish to close the wall holes.

Enjoy

The next tub bath is going to rock!

Carhartt Women's Durable Pro Palm Work Glove With Extreme Grip, Dusty Plum, M
Carhartt Women's Durable Pro Palm Work Glove With Extreme Grip, Dusty Plum, M

Protect yourself from the roll insulation with gloves such as these. I like that they are flexible and NOT leather.

 

Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Maren Elizabeth Morgan

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

        Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

        3 months ago from Pennsylvania

        CMJ, in my "before" scenario, my tub walls were hollow with one side along an outside, un-insulated wall. Therefore, heat was certainly moving into those cold air pockets along the sides in addition to escaping up. My change bought me more time with warmth in the tub. Best wishes to you.

      • profile image

        CMG 

        3 months ago

        Just wondering, if heat rises then surely most of the heat in a bath is lost from the surface of the water, rather than downwards? Hence all the steam rising up? Would be interested to know how much difference insulating the sides and bottom of the tub makes. Is your bath now noticeably warmer? if so, then I may do the same to mine! Thanks.

      • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

        Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

        8 months ago from Pennsylvania

        Michael, I envision the insulated area as being quite dry with low humidity if it is sealed correctly. Therefore, there would be minimal probability of condensation.

      • profile image

        Michael Bourke 

        15 months ago

        Would we have to worry about condensation getting the insulation wet, since there is a big temperature difference between the hot water (thus tub), and the indoor temperature?

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)