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A modern shower with tile walls, glass doors and a fiberglass floor pan in room.

Steps to Tear Out Your Shower


 

DIY Shower Demolition Guide

So, you want to remove your shower. Whether it’s made of tile, fiberglass or another material, demolishing a shower isn’t as hard of a task as you might think. Our guide walks you through the ins and outs of removing a shower — from step-by-step instructions for removing fixtures, door frames, shower heads and drain pans to specific advice to demolish tile and fiberglass walls.

PROJECT DIFFICULTY RATING: Intermediate

 

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Steps to Demo Your Shower

  1. Plan & Prep
  2. Remove Shower Doors
  3. Pull the Frame Off
  4. Detach Fixtures
  5. Cut and Remove Shower Walls
  6. Pry the Floor Loose

 


 

How to Remove a Shower in 6 Steps

Showers need replacing from time to time, whether your shower is starting to show its age or you want to swap to a different wall material. Whatever your reason, the steps to demo a shower are easy enough to DIY.

 

Step 1: Plan for the Work Ahead and Prepare the Area

Before you can get started, gather all the appropriate tools. Luckily, everything you need is part of your standard tool kit.

Tools
Supplies
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • Pry Bar
  • Reciprocating Saw
  • Screwdrivers
  • Utility Knife
  • Broom and Dustpan
  • Bucket
  • Dust Mask
  • Floor Coverings
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Towels

It's also important to plan for waste removal because, no matter what size space you're renovating, debris piles up fast. Unfortunately, most cities don’t accept construction debris curbside. In the rare instance that they do, it’s often considered bulk weight due to the weight of the debris, meaning you might have to wait a few weeks for collection. If you want to clean as you work and get the debris off your property as soon as you’re done, consider renting a dumpster.

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Next, get the bathroom ready for the mess you’re about to make. Place floor coverings directly outside of the shower and on countertops or other surfaces to protect from dust — shower removal can be very messy.

Once that’s done, it’s time to shut off the water. There are two spots in the bathroom where you can turn the water off: the valve leading to the shower or the valve leading to the bathroom. If you can’t access either of those spots, you’ll need to shut off the main valve. It’s near the water company meter and often located in the basement or by the hot water tank.

Pro Tip: After the water is shut off, you need to relieve the pressure in the pipes. Do this by turning on a faucet on a lower floor or one that is closer to the main valve.

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Step 2: Remove the Shower Doors

Now that you’ve done all the prep work, it’s time to put on your goggles and gloves and start demolishing the shower, beginning with the door and frame.

There are two standard door types: hinged and sliding. To remove a hinged door, simply unscrew the fasteners that connect to either the wall or frame until the door is detached.

To remove a single or dual sliding door system, grab the door on both sides and lift it up until you can swing the bottom of the door out of the track. Then, tilt the door until you feel the wheels slip from the upper track. You can then remove the door and place it to the side, repeating the process on the second door if necessary.

If you have a shower/tub combo, this step is easy - simply remove the shower curtain and hooks.

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Step 3: Pull the Frame Off

Once the door is off, it’s time to remove the shower door frame. This can be accomplished in four easy steps:

  1. Remove the top rail by lifting it up. You may need to use a utility knife to score any caulk holding it in place.
  2. Unscrew the fasteners holding the side frames to the wall and bottom track to the shower floor.
  3. Cut through any caulk or adhesive holding the frames in place.
  4. Pull side frames from the wall and floor.
  5. Now that everything is removed, clear up some space in your bathroom by taking the doors and frame out to your dumpster.

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Step 4: Detach Fixtures

Get rid of any fixtures that would impede removing the shower walls. Most common items like soap holders, towel racks and drain covers can be detached with a screwdriver and utility knife to remove any caulk or adhesive holding the items in place. The two items that can be more complex are the shower head and water controls. They involve a bit more work simply because they connect directly to the piping.

How to Remove a Shower Head

  1. Loosen the connecting nut from the pipe with an adjustable wrench.
  2. Turn the shower head by hand until it comes off.
  3. Loosen the shower arm until it comes off.
  4. Remove the escutcheon — the decorative, circular metal piece that covers the hole where the shower arm enters the wall — with a pry bar if it didn’t come off with the shower arm.

How to Remove Water Controls

  1. Locate the screw holding the control in place. Most lever designs will have a screw underneath, while knob designs usually require you to pop a cap off with a screwdriver first. Locate a logo on the knob and the screw is usually underneath it.
  2. Spray some lubricant on the screw to loosen any mineralization.
  3. Remove the screw.
  4. Pull on the knob or lever until it comes off the valve stem.
  5. Remove any cover that surrounded the controls.

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Step 5: Cut and Remove Shower Walls

Nice work. Your shower is now in its most basic state — three walls, a floor and a couple of pipes. Now comes the hardest part: removing the shower walls.

There are two main types of walls, each requiring different demo methods. Don’t worry. We’ll go into detail about how to remove both tile and fiberglass shower walls.

Pro Tip: If you still aren’t sure this is a job you should tackle after reading our guide, consider hiring a contractor.

How to Remove Tiled Shower Walls

Keep your bucket, hammer, pry bar, utility knife and reciprocating saw handy as you prepare to demo your tile shower walls. Also, if you haven’t been using your goggles, dust mask and gloves, you’ll want to slip them on for this as there will be sharp edges and flying pieces of tile.

  1. Slice caulking along corners where the wall, ceiling or floor connect with your utility knife.
  2. Pry the tiles off along the middle row of the shower wall using your pry bar.
  3. Place the removed tiles into your bucket to take out to your dumpster later.
  4. Cut the seam where the tile meets the drywall with your reciprocating saw. Start from the bottom and cut up through the row of tile you removed earlier.
  5. Saw horizontally down the middle of the row where you removed the tiles until you reach a corner.
  6. Pry the bottom half of the wall free from the studs and set aside.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 for the top half of the wall.
  8. Repeat steps 1-7 for the remaining two walls.

How to Remove Fiberglass Shower Walls

Grab your reciprocating saw and hammer and get ready to make a mess.

  1. Cut 5-6 inches of the surrounding drywall. Be sure not to cut too deep and damage the studs.
  2. Knock out the drywall between your cut and the top of the fiberglass wall with your hammer, which should reveal all of your nail or screw attachments.
  3. Look behind your shower walls and note where any plumbing, gas or electrical lines are so that you can avoid them. There are also plenty of cell phone apps to help with this process.
  4. Cut through the corners of your walls vertically. Start at the top and work down until you are about three inches from the floor.
  5. Cut each wall horizontally three inches from the floor, connecting with your vertical cuts to form three distinct fiberglass panels.
  6. Remove the fasteners attaching your fiberglass panels to the studs. Repeat on all three sides.
  7. Take your panels and toss them in the dumpster.

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Step 6: Pry the Shower Floor Loose

One last step before your shower demolition is complete. As with the walls, there are two types of shower floors that you may have: fiberglass and tile. Since fiberglass is the most common shower pan you’ll need to remove, we’ll focus on that material here. If your floor is tile, we have you covered with our step-by-step tile removal tutorial.

  1. Remove fasteners like brackets, nails or screws that connect the shower pan to the studs.
  2. Slowly pry the rubber flange with a utility knife between the rubber flange and shower pan where the drain pipe connects. This may be a slow process as it will only move a bit at a time.
  3. Continue until you feel the seal break, then pull the flange out and discard.
  4. Break and remove any caulk or adhesive between the bathroom floor and the shower pan.
  5. Wedge your pry bar between the bathroom floor and shower pan, then pry the shower floor up until it clears the drain pipe.
  6. Clear your shower floor from the area and toss it in your dumpster.

If you have a shower/tub combo, use our guide to remove your bathtub.

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One Step Closer to Your Dream Bathroom

Now that your shower is removed, what’s the next step? Whether you’re putting a new shower in the spot, converting to a tub or just completing a step in your total bathroom renovation, getting one of the biggest items in a bathroom removed is a great step towards the bathroom you’ve always wanted.

Need some guidance on other bathroom demolition projects? Check out our step-by-step instructions on how to demo a vanity and toilet removal to keep your project moving.

 

Recommended reading: How to Demo a Bathroom

 

RELATED LINKS

 

How to Remodel Your Bathroom on a Budget | Convert Your Tub to a Shower

 

 

 


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