A DIY Guide to Convert a Tub Into a Walk-In Shower

Create more precious bathroom space by converting your tub into a walk-in shower

Kelly Weimert
Written by Kelly Weimert
Reviewed by Joseph Wood
Updated September 26, 2022
A bright bathroom with glass shower
Photo: PC Photography / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images


Only DIY if you know what you're doing.

Time to complete

48 hours

This DIY can take up to a week.



Only take it on if you have past experience.

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What you'll need:


  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Wrench
  • Vacuum
  • Caulk gun
  • Mask
  • Earplugs
  • Goggles
  • Pry bar
  • Utility knife
  • Oscillating multi-tool (optional)


  • Screws
  • Piping
  • Construction adhesive
  • Caulk
  • Plywood
  • Plywood subflooring

While many of us love a good soak in the bathtub, we often don't have the time for it, making a shower the more practical choice. Plus, some folks prefer showering over taking a bath. Regardless of your reasons, if you find that your bathtub doesn't get much use, it might be a sign that it’s time to remodel your bathroom and convert that tub into a luxurious walk-in shower.

Prepping to Replace Your Bathtub With a Walk-In Shower 

Since this project will stretch the limits of a DIYer's capabilities, it’s essential to have suitable materials to replace a tub with a shower. If you’re not using a prefabricated shower kit, you’ll likely need all the tools and supplies listed on this page.

If you choose to install a prefab shower kit, the only items you’ll need are a hammer, caulk gun, hole saw, construction adhesive nails, and screws. Some shower kits are direct-to-stud, which means they attach directly to studs with nails and screws, while others are glue-up kits, which need construction adhesive to attach directly to the walls. You'll then use the caulk gun to seal certain areas and prevent leaks.

Whether or not you use a prefab kit, have proper safety equipment on hand to protect yourself from debris and loud noises, including a mask, goggles, and earplugs.

Spacing requirements for a walk-in shower, with 80 inches for the average shower height
Photos: Andreas Schlegel / fStop / Getty Images, dadao / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images, kitthanes / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Buying a Shower Kit 

Using a prefabricated shower kit for your DIY tub-to-shower conversion can simplify this task. They’re available in one- and multi-piece units in fiberglass or acrylic. Depending on the kit you choose, they might come with a shower pan, wall panels, and shower doors.

“Be careful that the kit you purchase can fit up the stairs and through the doors,” says Joseph Wood, Angi Expert Review Board member, Master Plumber, and Founder of Boston Standard Company. “The worst thing is getting it home to find out it will not fit!”

Always check the directions that come with your kit for any additional requirements. “Many acrylic shower units require mortar beneath the unit to stabilize it,” says Wood. “Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.”

8 Steps to replace a tub with a shower, including removing wall sections
  1. Plan the Shower Outline

    First, plan your shower’s look. Most tubs are about 60 inches long and roughly 30 to 36 inches wide.

    It's helpful to plan your bathroom remodel around your tub's dimensions since the drain lines and water supply are already there. If you don't stick to your bathtub's dimensions, you might need to move plumbing fixtures, which significantly increases your bathroom remodeling costs

    Ideally, your new walk-in shower should have these spacing requirements:

    • Floor spacing: 30-by-30 inches

    • Height: 80 inches

    • Shower and toilet spacing: At least 15 inches, or 21 inches if the shower is in front of the toilet

    Don’t forget to account for extra space if your shower door swings open.

  2. Choose a Walk-In Shower Design

    There are two main walk-in shower types: curb and curbless. Before you convert your tub, you'll want to decide which style you prefer. Curb showers feature a slightly raised barrier on the floor, aka a curb, that separates the shower from the rest of the bathroom. Curbless showers don't have that barrier. Instead, they seamlessly flow into the rest of the bathroom. 

    Since curbless showers don't have a barrier, you'll have to install them on a slight downward slope so water flows toward the drain rather than into the rest of your bathroom.

  3. Get the Necessary Permits

    Before removing the tub, make sure you have the necessary permits. Most cities require plumbing permits when plumbing lines change, even for minor jobs.

    Your local permit agency will have all the information you need regarding the project. Once you get a permit, you can begin working on your bathroom renovations. However, having a permit doesn’t mean you’re in the clear just yet. An inspector will need to come and review your work to make sure it follows requirements set by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials.

  4. Turn the Water Supply Off

    A man turning off water supply
    Photo: FotoDuets / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

    Now that permits are secured, you can begin working. First, turn off the water supply to prevent water from spraying everywhere as you remove the tub. 

    Look for shut-off valves for your hot and cold taps; they might be under your sink. If there aren’t any available, you’ll have to shut off the main water supply, usually located in a crawl space, near a water heater, or in the basement.

  5. Remove Wall Sections

    After turning off the water supply comes demolition. Before starting, wear a mask and goggles to protect your lungs and eyes from debris. Then put plywood across the bathroom floor to protect it from damage.

    The tools needed will depend on the walls around your tub. For instance, if you have an acrylic or fiberglass tub, a pry bar and oscillating multi-tools are your best bet. But if they’re ceramic tiles, you’re better off using a hammer and pry bar to remove them.

  6. Disconnect Plumbing Fixtures

    Next comes disconnecting the bathtub’s drain and faucet. You can unscrew the drain with a screwdriver, but you’ll need a wrench for the taps. 

    If your faucet has shut-off valves, you’ll have to remove the plumbing connected to these fixtures. It’s better to install new valves and plumbing for your shower rather than using pre-existing valves and plumbing to ensure a tight, leak-free fit. The cost of new shower plumbing is between $600 and $1,600.

  7. Remove the Tub

    A bathtub in bathroom
    Photo: bennnn / Adobe Stock

    It’s finally time to remove the tub. It’s a more straightforward job if it’s an acrylic or fiberglass tub; you’ll likely need two pairs of hands for cast iron tub removal.

    First, remove any screws or nails attaching the tub to the wall studs. Then use a utility knife to cut any caulk connecting the tub to the floor. Next, use a pry bar to lift the tub away from the wall. Alternatively, you can use a reciprocating saw to cut the tub into pieces to make it more manageable.

    Take the pieces of tub and walls to the dumpster.

  8. Assess Subflooring Damage

    After removing the tub, clean up any debris, loose screws, and nails. You should also assess any damage to your subfloor from the tub’s removal. Water damage is likely to occur, so light carpentry might be necessary to fix it.

    Cut away the damaged area and lay 3/4-inch plywood subflooring, which will be your shower pan’s drain opening.

  9. Install Your New Shower

    If you’re using a shower kit, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to complete your shower installation. If you're not using a kit, the next steps involve connecting the shower drain, installing the shower pan, attaching the faucet and showerhead, and installing the shower door.

    However, several of these tasks require in-depth plumbing knowledge. Without that knowledge, at most, you could attach the faucet, showerhead, and shower door. For everything else, you should hire a plumber. Bringing in a pro can help you avoid costly mistakes.

DIY Tub to Shower Conversion vs. Hiring a Pro

The DIY route can save you $1,000 or more on the cost of converting a tub to a shower. However, learning how to replace a tub with a walk-in shower is a project many homeowners don't want to take on themselves since it requires demolition, plumbing skills, and some advanced DIY experience.

We also highly recommend hiring a local shower installer if you have one bathroom in your household since this DIY project can take a week or longer—a pro can get your bathroom up and running in less time. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The cost to convert a tub to a shower ranges from $1,200 to $8,000. Installing a manufactured stall with basic hardware will fall at the lower end of that spectrum, while tiled and curbless showers with premium fixtures will fall at the higher end. 

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.