The layout of a four-piece bathroom is crucial — access to the various amenities must be convenient. During a recent ensuite remodel, it quickly became evident the position of the old tub and frame hindered the space’s potential.
Within a 10x11-foot area, the shower stall, separate tub, double vanity and water closet all required an ample amount of space.
What was the best solution?
Once the ensuite was fully gutted and the footprint of the new shower stall had been determined, the location and orientation of the tub was dictated by the eight-foot vanity with double sinks along the opposing wall. If the tub were to sit parallel with the back bay-window wall, access to both the shower and one of the vanity sinks would suffer.
The solution was to centre a stand-alone tub perpendicularly to the back wall.
By doing so, a generous amount of previously wasted space would allow plenty of access into the shower on the close side of the new tub, leaving just enough room between the tub and vanity on the opposite side.
The stand-alone tub plumbing preparation began early. Once the old tub and frame were removed, revealing the sub-floor, access to the rough plumbing allowed me to modify the existing drain and water feeds to accommodate the new tub orientation.
Permanently mounting the new tub into position, however, took an incredible amount of pre-planning. This MAAX tub product was sold in two parts, which consisted of the outer shell and the inner tub which sits within the shell.
Aligning the rough ABS plumbing with the trap for the new drain position was relatively easy, as was the preparation for the water feeds. The plumbing tie-in, however, created the greatest challenge.
The outer shell must be secured into position before the inner tub is set within it.
To achieve this, the new flooring must be installed before the outer shell is in place.
But, how is this possible when the tub drain can only be tied in properly through the access cut into the sub floor?
Well, there was only one obvious way to achieve this — by creating a new access directly in front of the faucet end of the tub and completing the new flooring from the back wall to just shy of this access to allow for the tub installation, and finishing the remaining floor once all tub tasks were completed.
This was the only way the outer shell could be permanently secured to the new floor before the inner tub is dropped into it for tie-in to the rough plumbing.
To avoid having to shut off the water multiple times during the steps of water-feed tie-in, inline shutoff valves were installed near the ends of the hot and cold water feeds at floor level.
Once the Roman tub faucet and hand-nozzle — as well as the drain and overflow — were mounted the tub, the entire inner tub unit was carefully lowered into the outer shell.
After the faucet end of the tub was carefully propped up to around six inches above the lip of the outer shell, each of the water feeds was attached to the respective tub faucet hot and cold lines.
The inline shutoff valves were then opened one at a time to test for leaks. The tub drain tie-in was trickier to achieve.
In order to guarantee no leaks, the inner tub needed to be lowered down enough to allow the ABS rough plumbing with trap below the sub-floor — when flexed upward temporarily — to be glued and fused to the bottom of the tub drain ABS.
Once the glue had set, the pop-up tub drain stopper was closed before opening the hot and cold valves of the newly installed Roman faucet.
After I filled the tub until the water level just barely covered the pop-up drain stopper, the drain was opened allowing the water to drain out.
As I monitored the ABS trap while the tub emptied, my pleasant sigh of relief indicated there were no leaks and the inner tub could then be set permanently into position.
The sub-floor access was then covered and the flooring installation could continue.
A clear silicone was used along the floor to seal the bottom edge of the outer shell to the new flooring. Another thicker bead of clear silicone was used to secure the inner tub-edge overlap to the lip of the outer shell, which rests up and within the tub’s perimeter edge. Once the silicone was allowed to set and cure for roughly 24 hours, the stand-alone tub was ready for use.
Barring any major changes to other aspects of this bathroom, installing a stand-alone tub was really the only way to regain some of the wasted space generated by the bulky framework that surrounded the old inset tub along the back wall.
But it was the decision to position the new tub at a perpendicular angle that truly optimized this space — every square inch of this bathroom is now conveniently functional.
This new ensuite layout truly does make it seem like a much bigger space.