Contractor did not install frame for acrylic tub. Now what?

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Old 08-03-12, 10:46 AM
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Contractor did not install frame for acrylic tub. Now what?

I recently had an alcove-type (3 sides open) acrylic tub installed by a professional contractor. His workers may not have read the manual, where it states you must build a lumber frame to go around the 3 open sides. This I believe is not optional. For support and levelling, the manual says to use wooden blocks in the corners (which they apparently did) or mortar. There is a plywood (chipboard) glued to the underside of the tub for support as well. The contractor says his workers told him they built the wood frame (aka "apron") around the tub, but I confirmed it was not built. I've not used it yet, but the tub is making creaking noises when you walk on it over half the surface, near the drain end. He told me he would pipe in compression foam with a long hose under the tub to support the area. He did not want to use mortar, saying it would interferere with the support from the blocks in the corners.

From what I've read, low compression foam is not really designed for support under the weight of a tub (can be 500 lbs full!), and is not a long term solution. So I am asking: what sort of minimal damage to my new bathroom am I looking at, if I have to force the contractor to redo the entire tub installation? There is hardi-backer cement board surrounding the tub, with ceramic tiles on that. Do all 3 cement board walls have to be destroyed, or is it possible to remove the tub with just the bottom layers of tile destroyed (and rebuilt), keeping the backer board intact?

The 60" tub was already a very tight fit getting it in between the walls of the bathroom. Now there are ceramic tiles on those walls extending beyond the tub. Can the tub be removed without damaging those wall tiles? Can it be removed without damaging the floor tiles?

Any advice?!
 
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Old 08-03-12, 12:25 PM
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Tubs are typically supported by a mortar bed under the tub. They are not supported by a wooden frame around the tub. Typically the frame is built before the tub is installed, a mortar bed is put down to support the tub. When installed the tub rim should not touch the apron.
 
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Old 08-03-12, 12:34 PM
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I'd really like a picture....as I just don't get the "alcove-type (3 sides open)" thing?

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...-pictures.html

Every drop-in tub needs a frame around it for the tile or whatever is used. The tub is not supported by the framing....normally it is very close or just touching the finished surface....and thats with it full of water.

At my last place the idiot builder had no clue. The tub was suspended by the rim and had about 3" from the bottom to the sub-floor....his solution was scrap lumber shoved in under the bottom as shims.
 
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Old 08-03-12, 01:17 PM
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Gunguy: As I learned, "alcove" is just a fancy name for describing what is your standard 60" rectangular bathtub. It looks like this here.

Wayne: So then what is the purpose of going to the trouble and expense of building a wooden frame all around three sides of the tub if it is not there to help support it? And why does the tub feel like it lacks support and makes creaking noises when I move around the drain, if the wood blocks in the corners is enough support? (The manual says mortar is optional).

ALL: From looking at the manual (here), the "Newtown IFS 6030", like all of their models, requires a series of stud framing to be built, consisting of both vertical and horizontal supports around the perimeter of the tub. The tub is not supposed to just butt against the existing wall studs, as it has been installed. Mind you, I've stood on the tub and it hasn't cracked (yet!), but since the manufacturer and their instructions say the frame should be built, there may be issues long term if it isn't.

This is why I've been asking what would be involved in taking out the tub at this finished stage. I'm not sure whether to insist the frame be built (and proceed to sue the contractor if it isn't...), or whether to accept closed cell expansion foam as an after-install "fix". My concern is the foam will only last as long as the contractor's warranty (about 2 years). As for mortar.... it may be too late for that. Pumping mortar in would mean it would be wet-ish... and then it would fall into the large drain hole at the edge of the tub, to the floor below.
 
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Old 08-03-12, 02:19 PM
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I have a Pearlbath true-whirlpool tub made by Maax. I installed it about ten years ago and the instructions called for listings around the three open sides but also made it plain that these listings were NOT for tub support. I set the listings about an eighth of an inch lower than the measured distance from the floor to the underside of the tub lip and when I set the tub I laid a thick bead of 100% silicone caulk on the top of the listings. I also set the tub in a bed of mortar.

I think the listings are to take the weight of anything set on the edge of the tub but definitely NOT to suspend the tub, this is why I used the silicone.

As for adding mortar now, you can build a dam around the drain opening or you can (assuming you have the access) make the mortar a bit stiff and use a stick to push it under the tub. Even with my installation I had to use a stick and push the mortar around to ensure I had a solid bed under the tub.
 
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Old 08-03-12, 07:15 PM
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So without the frame (what you call "listings"), I guess I should stop standing on the edge of the tub?!

I have a 14" access hole on the side of the tub, so it *might* be possible to force mortar underneath... but how would you build a dam to prevent it flowing into the drain opening?
 
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Old 08-03-12, 09:03 PM
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ALL: From looking at the manual (here), the "Newtown IFS 6030", like all of their models, requires a series of stud framing to be built, consisting of both vertical and horizontal supports around the perimeter of the tub.
The link you provided went to the page for the product, not to the manual. I'm guessing this is the link you meant to provide: MAAX Installation Instructions.

I found this section to be particularly entertaining:

TROUBLESHOOTING
Water accumulates around the drain and
the bathtub does not completely empty.

Check that the installation is level and
that the bathtub sits firmly on its base;
if necessary, shim with wood wedges
under the wood base only.
Bottom of bathtub moves during use.
Bathtub is not sitting firmly on its base;
shim if necessary.
I hope this bathtub is manufactured to be unusually crack-resistant.
 
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Old 08-04-12, 07:47 AM
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I'm not sure why that would be entertaining, or imply the tub is unusually crack resistant. (Though it is a bit better quality than some cheaper models I saw at Home Depot, where I found I could bend and break the apron side with one hand). Those instructions I assume, is a common fix for a common problem.
 
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Old 08-04-12, 08:35 AM
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I'm not sure why that would be entertaining, or imply the tub is unusually crack resistant.
I regret that I wasn't clearer. What I found entertaining was that they only talked about wood shims and support, after all the discussion here about the advisability of a mortar bed.
 
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Old 08-04-12, 10:15 AM
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Elsewhere in the instructions, they advise the use of mortar, but its not listed as obligatory. I regret now that I did not pour through the instructions closely enough, while the contractors were working on the installation. I should have known the wood frame support system was listed as necessary for my model (and not just other models, as I assumed). Then I could have checked whether those bozos were actually following the instructions or not...
 
 

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