Safely Removing A Fiberglass Shower
Remodeling your bathroom can be a scary undertaking, especially if you've never done anything like it before. I want to show you that with the proper technique, there isn't anything to be scared of. You must be careful and diligent while working, and be sure to watch your surroundings as well. I will start by saying that if you're removing a shower (similar to the one in the video), turning off the water is a good idea. Accidents do happen, and an open water line can discharge about 15 gallons of water a minute. We are starting with a fully functioning shower and going step by step from there.
Removing the faucet is the first thing we will have to do. If you are planning on re-using your faucet, it's important to be careful with it. With most faucets there is a trim mounted over a set screw. The faucet in the video has a friction ring that snaps over the handle to hide the set screw. Many faucets use a small allen screw to hold the trim on. Once the outer trim is removed, removing the set screw is easily done with a philips screw driver. Usually a philips screw driver is also used for the trim plate screws as well. Once all the trim pieces are removed you are ready to go to the next step.
We still have to remove the base trim from the walls adjacent to the shower. The base trim we are removing is painted, and therefore caulked to the wall. We use a utility knife with a sharp blade to carefully cut the caulking at the wall. If you intend on re-using the base trim it's again important that you take your time here. We have really good luck moving slowly and methodically during demolition so that we don't create more work for ourselves in later steps. To remove the nails in the base trim it's always best to pull them through from the back. Pulling the nails through the back prevents the face of the trim from being damaged.
Draw reference lines. This may seam unnecessary, but if it's your first time pulling out a fiberglass shower it will help. The shower will have a flange that ranges from 1"-1.25" wide from the edge of the wall. Draw your line at least 1.25" away from the edge of the shower to reveal the flange completely. If you don't remove the flange, it will leave a bow in your drywall making the tile not sit flat. This will give an unsightly appearance when the job is completed.
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Cutting out the drywall. I start by cutting the drywall out of the way first. This will reveal the flange so that you can remove any screws or nails that may be present. I am always surprised to see how many showers are held in place with only two nails. Two nails isn't nearly enough for proper installation, but that's a different issue. Once the flange is revealed and the fasteners are removed it's time to move to step 5.
Time to cut out the shower. Again, I would draw reference lines in the shower itself for you to cut along. The lines will help guide you, but it's not a big deal if you don't stay on them exactly. I recommend cutting the walls at the corners (two cuts) and then along the bottom of the shower (one cut). The wall cuts and floor cuts should intersect making the shower come out in four pieces. I find it best to cut one wall first, then the floor cut past the first wall cut. I remove each piece of the shower as it's cut apart to help prevent binding and stuff falling on me. Removing the pan is the next step. For this step you want to keep the saw as shallow as possible. There is plumbing behind the shower and possible electric as well, don't cut too deep so that you minimize the chance of cutting pipes or wires.
Now that the walls are out it's time to cut out the pan. I use a multi-tool saw to cut around the shower drain, but a sawzall works as well. You don't want to pull the pan up before the drain is cut out as you risk damaging the connecting plumbing. It might be a good idea at this point to let you know that mouse homes are very common here too. I don't usually find live mice, but it's common to see where they have dragged insulation into the shower pan cavity at some point. Rest assured that your tile shower will have no such place for them to call home. Oh, back to the shower pan removal. Sometimes it's necessary to cut the pan in two pieces as the walls can be too tight to allow you to just tip it out of the way.
Clean up the space where the shower used to be. Make sure that any mortar that supported the shower (yeah, right) is also removed. I say "Yeah, right" about mortar because even though the shower is supposed to be set in mortar it never is. It's just another thing that prior trades messed up that you won't have to worry about any more. New home construction budgets are apparently so tight that $8 worth of mortar is too expensive. I think by now your shower is out of your way, you can start planning your new installation from here.