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Flooring or Bathtub? Which to Install first

So you are installing a new bathroom and suddenly have hit a snag-which should you install first, the flooring or bathtub? The short answer is that standard bathtubs such as alcove and corner bathtubs should always be installed first, followed by the wallboard, the subfloor and the vinyl. The complete answer is that this will depend on the type of bathtub you are trying to install as a freestanding bathtub and a drop-in will require a floor install before they can be placed.  

Why should you install the tub first 

If you are looking to install an alcove bathtub or if your bathtub is made to be flush with the surroundings, here are the reasons for installing your bathtub first.  

Tub type

Your bathtub type will largely determine how you want to install your bathtub. An alcove and corner tub will benefit from being installed first as you can better place the bathtub and get a better sense of the surrounding floor and wall to ensure that it is flush with the bathtub. Drop-in bathtubs will require an ingress or recess to be constructed first before being placed. 

Protect against floor scratches, cracks, stains and damage

If the bathtub is placed first, the surrounding floor, vinyl and walling can help to protect the tub and the house from scratches, cracks, stains and damages. If the flooring is placed before the bathtub, it can lead to scratching or damaging the floor with trying to position a heavy object like a bathtub, so you can simply place it first and add the flooring and walling to make it more convenient.

Better Positioning and Aesthetics

With placing the bathtub before the flooring and wall, you can better position the bathtub for protection and aesthetics. Without having to worry about damaging the flooring and wall, you can simply place the bathtub where you want and place the flooring and wall after to limit gaps between the two. By ensuring that the bathtub is flush with it’s surroundings, you can ensure that less moisture and debris gets trapped in the cracks to ensure better longevity of the bathtub and house.

When should you consider installing the floor first

If you own a freestanding bathtub or wish to install a shower, here are the reasons for installing your flooring first.

Pros of doing the floor first 

Easy access to plumbing and subflooring is one of the biggest benefits of completing the floor first in a bathroom repair. You can make sure that your bathroom’s foundation is sound before installing new fixtures and finishes by taking care of this task as soon as possible. Installing tile or other flooring without having to worry about breaking other materials is another benefit of taking care of the flooring first.

This might be especially crucial if you intend to install large-scale tile with complex patterns or designs, since these installations frequently require exact placement and cutting. Making layout considerations might be another reason why homeowners decide to install the floor first.

By setting up a level in your bathroom, it becomes easier to arrange items like modern sinks, toilets, and shower enclosures. This may help guarantee that, before proceeding with further renovation components, everything is appropriately positioned and arranged.

Cons of doing the floor first

Doing the floor first has a number of drawbacks, including the possibility of longer installation and drying times. It may take a few days or even weeks to complete this procedure, depending on the kind of flooring material you select. You might not be able to work on other aspects of your restoration project during this period.

One further possible disadvantage is that new flooring may get damaged in later remodeling. For instance, there’s a risk of your freshly laid flooring being harmed if you decide, later in the project, to add new plumbing or electrical wiring.

This could eventually require expensive replacement or repairs. Ultimately, you need to carefully analyze the advantages and disadvantages that apply to your particular scenario before determining whether to finish your bathroom floor first or last.

Installing a freestanding bathtub

The main benefit of a freestanding bathtub is that it can be placed anywhere in your bathroom. This allows you to easily set up your bathroom design the way you want by establishing your flooring and walling which creates a more stable and complete look, so you can more easily see what works and what doesn’t. Then, when your bathroom look is complete, you can easily place the freestanding bathtub wherever you want without having to worry about a complex installation. 

Installing a clawfoot style bathtub

Similar to a freestanding tub, a clawfoot style can be placed anywhere in your bathroom, allowing for a better ease of installation. As discussed before, a clawfoot bathtub allows you to place flooring and walling first to establish a look for your bathroom before placing your bathtub. Afterwards, you can place your clawfoot bathtub wherever you want in your bathroom, just ensuring that you place the faucet closeby.  

Shower only set up

A shower only setup benefits greatly from having your flooring installed first or concurrently as the shower tiles will generally be placed at the same time as the rest of your bathroom flooring. This means that you need only install the door and the faucet after your bathroom remodeling is complete. Similarly, you can also use your freestanding bathtub installation to create a shower/bathtub combination that provides the benefits of both utilities, by simply adding a shower curtain and a removable faucet. When considering bathtubs vs shower resale value, this combination can be particularly advantageous, as it offers potential buyers the flexibility of both options, potentially enhancing the home’s appeal and resale value.

A bathroom remodel can be a costly and time-consuming affair, so it is important to do the proper research, look at your bathtub type to determine which installation method is best.  


Depending on personal tastes and conditions, one may decide to finish bathroom flooring last or first. Although laying the floors last might make installing the other bathroom fixtures cleaner and simpler, laying the floors first can facilitate easier access to the plumbing and subflooring.

When making a decision, make sure you consider all aspects, including personal preferences, the remodeling project’s timetable, and the money. In the end, there is no right or wrong decision when it comes to this one, but thorough thought and balancing the advantages and disadvantages ought to provide a better result. 

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