Bathroom Remodeling Part II: Adding Trim to a Raised Bathtub

By: Mark Clement , Contributing Writer
In: Home Improvement Tips

In Part One of this piece we discussed some very-important-not-to-be-overlooked-or-underdone structural elements of raising and/or moving a bathtub.

Here in Part Two of our bathroom remodel, we talk about the bun that makes that beefy patty look and taste real yummy–trim details. For me, trimming a tub includes more than what my eight year old daughter refers to as “curly wood.” It’s about how a tub feels when you get in there and how long the details stay detailed as Calgon takes you away.

Bathroom Remodeling: Step #1

Step 1 of dropping a tub into its rough-framed pedestal is trimming the rim, or top plate of your little stud walls (which should be dead-level left-right/front-back.) The top rim of the tub settles onto these trim boards. If you want to go wood (budget-friendly I hasten to add) and stay true to some old-house materials and trim vernaculars Douglas Fir or Western Red Cedar 1-by are durable, attractive choices. I recommend priming and/or finishing all 6 sides–that includes cut ends–before final fastening. Some other choices are marble, granite or soapstone. Another great choice is PVC 1-by. It works like wood, but lasts like stone. Not for all old house purists I realize, but well worth a look in my mind.

Whatever you choose, install the rim trim and let dry before dropping the tub in. Also, as Mies van der Rhoe said “God is in the details” and one important detail is to make sure your rim trim cantilevers the wall cladding at least ½ inch. In other words, if you’re using 1/2 inch bead board cladding and a ¾ inch horizontal transition strip, the rim trim should cantilever the top plate 1 3/4 inches. Skimp on this detail and you’ll see why Mies is devilishly mis-quoted.

Bathroom Remodeling: Step #2

Step 2 is much less detailed but no less important. The tub must be set in a “wet bed.” And by wet bed here we’re talking a 60-pound bag of concrete. Some contractors substitute a 5-gallon bucket of joint compound here but I accept no substitute. I’m going for rock-solid connection here. Mix up the mud, shovel in, then wiggle the tub into position.

Bathroom Remodeling: Step #3

Step 3 is to apply the wall cladding. In our case it was bead board. PVC is a good, authentic looking, long-lasting choice for bead board. The PVC I have used looks real and, once painted you can’t tell it from wood. Then add your base, shoe, and transition strip under the rim-trim.

Note: while suitable for other areas of the house–and tempting due to low cost–MDF moldings will eventually get wet and then that’ll be all he wrote.

Bathroom Remodeling: Step #4

Step 4 is caulk. I have had excellent luck with DAP Dynaflex products all over the house.

Bathroom Remodeling: Step #5

Step 5 is to paint. Semi-gloss or high-gloss is recommended for all bath applications.

And that’s all he wrote–for this installment anyway.


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  1. 8 Responses  to “Bathroom Remodeling Part II: Adding Trim to a Raised Bathtub”

  2. Aug 29, 2011
    Installing a drop in tub as opposed to a standard open front adds a custom feel to a bathroom that just enhances the elegance. Many more options with a drop in
  3. Aug 29, 2011
    In step 3, 6 MIL plastic sheathing should be attached to the wall framing prior to installing the cladding (which should really go over cement board). This will ensure the wall framing stays dry. I would also recommend a one part polyurethane sealant over any caulk for long term flexibility.
  4. Aug 29, 2011
    Wow, now that's nice...Thank you!
  5. Aug 29, 2011
    Thanks for these wonderful bathroom remodeling tips !
  6. Aug 29, 2011
    Ricky--The tub was acrylic, not cast iron, so it wasn't very heavy at all. You're right that caulking is key. Setting the rim in a bead is a good idea as is sealing the edge. To protect the wood, definitely seal the end grain before installation. As for bathing in gold, I hear that's good for dry skin...
  7. Aug 29, 2011
    Lisa--Yes, I still suggest the concrete on the second floor. It is not significantly heavier (if it is even heavier at all) than joint compound once it dries. I hope this helps--
  8. Lisa Scofield
    Aug 29, 2011
    Quick question. If the bathtub is on the second floor, do you still suggest the concrete as opposed to the joint compound? I’d hate to drop through the floor (or do I really need to say that?)
  9. Ricky
    Aug 29, 2011
    How much did the tub you installed weigh? It is very important you do a good caulking job seeing as it is a tub and any water leaks will cause a huge problem if you are using wood. Wonder how much more effort it took to install those gold tubs, sinks, and toilets in the mansions Sadaam Hussein had installed. Bathing in gold, what a rough life!