Drop in tub surround with full access
Step 1: Frame out surround
It is helpful to have your bathtub prior to this step so that actual heights can be established off the actual tub you will be installing. Build 2x4 tub surround. The tub pictured was raised 3" on blocks so that drain & overflow plumbing could be made from above. Alternatively, your subfloor will have to be cut away under the drain & overflow area and all connections will be made from the basement or crawlspace.
Step 2: Install proper substrate on framing
For tile, use a cement backer board. The below pictured install will be using a solid walnut with multiple layers of water based polyurethane, so plywood was used for this substrate
Step 3: Install finished surround material
The below pictured front panel is mounted to the surround studs using 4 screws, so the front panel is completely removable for full access to the equipment. Solid Walnut was used in this instance, but note that wood requires proper water proofing finish to be applied. Tile or other water proof finished flooring materials are also ideal.
**If you are tiling the front skirt, you should do this LAST, and plan for an access panel to service the pump and equipment
Step 4: Finish top deck
If necessary, remove the tub and finish your top deck
Step 5: Place tub and Shim/level
At this point, you are ready to place the tub in it's final position. The lip of the tub should NOT be resting on the tub surround. Leave a 1/16" - 1/8" gap so that the full weight of the tub is on the floor/feet of the tub
Shims can be installed beneath the tub to get your height and level exactly as desired
A 1/8" gap is left between the tub lip and the tub surround. This gap should be calked with a waterproof calk. This will secure the top of the tub in place to prevent movement.
Step 6: Secure the bottom of the tub
The wood blocks were screwed to the subfloor and we selected an expanding spray foam to use as a glue to hold the tub in place. We do NOT recommend using concrete as it can shrink and crack the tub shell. Spray foam combined with the calk on the top is plenty strong to prevent any movement whatsoever for decades.
Step 7: Install drain/overflow
Raising the tub on blocks allows for the drain to be plumbed from the bathroom rather than from the basement or crawl space.
Step 8: Install high flow tub filler
Be sure to use a 3/4" valve bathtub filler so your tub fills quickly. For larger tubs, we recommend the faucets and drain be installed on the front side to prevent having to reach across the tub to drain & fill.
Step 9: Install front panel (or tile front panel)
If you've chosen to fabricate a removable front access panel, it is now ready to install. If you have chosen to tile the front, now is the time. Be sure to include an access panel for access to any pumps and equipment. Most local building codes require an access panel to the pumps on jetted tubs. This is not required for soaking tubs.