How To Level A Bathtub

How to Level a Bathtub

Is it time for a bathroom remodel and a new bathtub?

Whether you’re trying to update your bathroom or building new from the ground up, you will want to make sure your tub is level. 

Leveling your bathtub is important to ensure stability and proper drainage. Your new tub should come with an owner’s manual from the manufacturer explaining the specifics of leveling your model.

Options To Level A Bathtub?

There are two main ways to level a bathtub: using shims and mortar. The right solution for you varies depending on the model. Again, consult the owner’s manual for applicable information about leveling.

Mortar is best used when you have a large tub, but shims can suit a regular model.

With the mortar method, you put your tub in a thin bed of mortar. Then, it dries for a minimum of 24 hours. With the shims method, you use metal or hardwood shims underneath the tub until it reaches the appropriate level.

You want to level your bathtub before installing the tile and cement backing boards. Make sure that your tub is level before finishing any additional installation steps.

In both cases, the process of leveling the tub is relatively straightforward.

How To Level A Bathtub With Mortar

level a bathtub with mortar
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Step 1:

First, measure how long your tub’s legs are. If your tub doesn’t have legs, measure how far it is from the base to the bottom of the flanges on the side. 

Remember that mortar will hide the legs, so this method isn’t ideal if your model comes with decorative legs.

Step 2: 

Next, measure the exact dimensions of the base of your tub. Draw an outline of these dimensions on the part of the floor where the tub will be installed.

Step 3:

Mix a tray of mortar and water. It should thicken after a couple of minutes. Use a trowel to spread the thinset mortar over your marked area on the floor. You want the mortar to be an inch deeper than the legs or the flanges-base height difference.

Step 4: 

Next, maneuver the tub onto the mortar. It’s best to have someone else help move the tub to ensure accurate placement. Push the base into the mortar until the flanges on the side touch your floor.

Step 5: 

Lay one of the levels on the side. If the tub isn’t level, push on the higher side until it is level. Do this for all four sides, and then double-check the levelness.

Step 6:

Use a trowel to clear away any large amounts of mortar along with a wet rag to clear any small amounts. You should do this before the mortar has a chance to dry. Then, wait 24 hours for the mortar to dry before you continue the installation process.

How To Level A Bathtub With Shims

how tot level a bathtub with shims

Step 1:

First, place the tub in the correct place for installation. Then, put a level along the longer side. Have someone carefully lift your bathtub as you put metal or wooden shims under the base or legs.

Step 2: 

Make sure you avoid plastic and softwood shims, as these materials can become compressed over time.

Step 3: 

Lower your tub onto the shims. Test the back using your level. Keep lifting your tub and adding shims where they’re needed on the other two sides.

Step 4: 

Test the sides to be sure they’re level. Lift your tub once more and use silicone caulk to secure the shims. Make sure the shim is completely covered with the caulk as you push it into place.

Step 5: 

Once the shims have been secured with caulk, you can place an additional layer of caulk over the top of the shims. Lower the tub onto them.

Step 6: 

Make sure you test the level of the tub before the caulk has a chance to dry. Make any adjustments you need to with the shims. After that, the caulk should dry overnight before the rest of the installation.

Tools and Materials Needed To Level A Bathtub

The materials you use will vary slightly depending on whether you use shims or mortar. However, these are some of the things recommended  to have on hand:

  • Thinset mortar
  • A trowel
  • A damp cloth
  • Silicone caulk
  • Metal or hardwood shims
  • The owner’s manual for your bathtub model

It’s also a good idea to have someone with you who can help with the more difficult parts of the installation.

Why Does A Bathtub Need To Be Level?

Leveling your tub can be a difficult part of the installation process. If you DIY the installation or have a shoddy contractor, you might need to take care of this process yourself.

When the tub is level, water disperses evenly through the model. You don’t have to worry that water will spill over the side and flood your floor. In addition, keeping the tub level will prevent shifting as you sit inside.

If a tub isn’t level, it won’t be stable. It might move with your weight as you shift in the tub and might result in dumping water on your bathroom floors. In addition, it might not drain properly, which leads to mold hazards. None of these risks are worth it, especially if you want to sell your house!

You Can Level a Bathtub with the Right Tools

As long as you’re using the right tools, you shouldn’t have any trouble leveling your bathtub. The DIY home renovation community has several solutions available for you to level your new tub.

Mortar and shims both work great, but the right one for you depends on your tub. The majority of standard tubs can be leveled using shims, and mortar is typically considered best for larger models.