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I have an acrylic tub/shower combo that I would like to update. It is a two piece unit - the tub and a complete 3 walled surround mounted above. Ideally, I'd like to remove only the surround part and replace it with tile. I understand we would have to replace the drywall behind with something appropriate for tiling in the shower. I'd rather not have to replace the tub, however. Is it possible to leave the existing tub?

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I have done almost this exact same retrofit. It was a lot of work, but you can leave the existing tub. I refinished mine with a Rustoleum epoxy product, but that's another story.

Basically, depending on the tub, I would take everything down to the studs, and start with a good masonry board, and any possible structural/plumbing changes you might need.'

The important thing is to make sure when you are all done you've accomplished two things:

  1. A good, consistent seal from the tiled surface to the bath tub
  2. See No.1

I've repaired and refinished bathrooms where this was done, and 9 times out of 10 there was water penetration around the bathtub that caused unmentionable horrors that were invisible, until it all failed horribly.

Good luck and take your time.

PS - a "zip saw" or handheld router can be your friend to cut that modular shower into smaller pieces.

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I did something similar but the tub was a regular one with the acrylic surround. They had put just regular drywall behind the acrylic (with poor sealing) so the drywall was rotting out. That made it reasonably easy to remove it all but it was a mess.

My first thought was that you might have drywall behind your acrylic tub and if so, what kind of condition is it in? It would be much more difficult if you had to take that drywall out too.

I replaced the drywall with water-resistant drywall - sometimes called greenboard because it has a green paper covering. I spread the grout over the greenboard and set in the tiles.

Then the trick is to use a good sealant (I wouldn't rely on the grout) and keep it in good repair.

It turned out wonderfully and 8 years later it still looks great!

Having said all that, I had never done anything like it before so take my advice with a grain of salt. : )

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