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Upgrade Your Shower & Tub Insert For A Custom Look Without The Demo

I have been in the process of renovating my daughters’ bathroom, and I’ve been having so much fun. I was just about done, but there was one little piece of the bathroom that still wasn’t speaking to me… the shower and tub insert.

Show of hands, who’s got one of these? Most people have at least one shower insert in their home, and while they’re fine, they’re just nothing special to look at!

Could I have ripped it all out, tiled, and installed something beautiful? Of course I could have, but that would have cost us a lot of money and taken a lot of time.

One day, I might take on that kind of demo and renovation, but right now, I was looking for a simple fix to take our insert from looking less than appealing to custom!

Here’s how I did it…

UPGRADE YOUR SHOWER & TUB INSERT FOR A CUSTOM LOOK WITHOUT THE DEMO

First things first, gather your materials!

STEP 1: MEASURE & GATHER YOUR MATERIALS

I took a look around, figured out the design I wanted to go with, and took some measurements. But to be completely honest, I wasn’t sure exactly how this was all going to turn out!

I just decided to grab what I needed and dive in headfirst! After all, everything is fixable!

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED
MATERIALS
TOOLS

STEP 2: ADD YOUR VERTICAL TRIM PIECES & NOTCH OUT YOUR BASEBOARDS

The goal here is to cover that plastic insert, right? So that to me meant I needed to cover the sides of it too (not just the tub).

I wanted to use 1×4 PVC boards here, so I lined up my boards with the tub and made marks on my baseboards where I needed to notch them out to fit my boards in.

This is an important step! If you want your project to look custom and built in, notch your baseboards out! It will ultimately give you a much more finished and ‘always been there’ kind of look!

I used my multi-tool to do this, but you can also remove them and cut them down with a miter saw!

Once they were notched out, I made sure my vertical boards were right up against the shower surround, flush with the wall, and level, then I wood glued them in and angled in some finishing nails to secure them into place.

Originally I didn’t have them going all the way to the ceiling, but changed my plan halfway through. They made the shower stall look way larger when they went all the way up!

Now for the fun part… the tub surround!

STEP 3: GIVE YOUR TUB SURROUND A BOOST!

Now that your vertical pieces are in, it’s time to make a statement! This is the part I just kind of figured out as I went! I cut down another 1×4 to fit tightly inside the two vertical pieces I just added in to act as a baseboard. I wood glued it to the vertical boards, but didn’t fix anything to the tub!

Then I cut down my 1×6 board to sit as a ledge on top of the edge of my tub and wood glued it to my vertical boards. I also cut down a 1×2 PVC board to act as trim on the top, up against my 1×6 PVC ledge.

Based on these cuts and the design I was going for, I cut down my shiplap boards to about 12.75″ each. This measurement will vary depending on your insert!

Here’s the kicker… I didn’t secure any of my shiplap to the tub! Instead I grabbed a piece and had my gap on the lefthand side. Then I wood glued the gap and tucked it behind my vertical 1×4 board.

I continued to simply wood glue the gaps, tops, and bottoms of each board together all the way across my 1×4 baseboard. This allowed them to be secure without having to nail or glue anything to my actual tub surround.

For the very last board, I had to use my jigsaw to cut it down. I wood glued it into place to finish up the shiplap!

Then, I placed my 1×2 trim piece right up against my 1×6 ledge and used finishing nails to secure it to the 1×6 board and wood glue to secure it to the top of the shiplap.

On the inside ledge, I added another 1×2 underneath my 1×6 to fill the gap, used caulk saving foam for the gaps I couldn’t fit a board into, and caulked every single seam so no water can seep back behind the tub surround.

STEP 4: TIME FOR THE TOP

Now about the top…

I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do here when I started. I didn’t want to completely close it in and block the light, but I did want to hide my shower curtain rod.

So I decided to cut down two more 1x4s and used wood glue and finishing nails to secure them to the vertical boards on either side. Though pocket hole screws would have been the best option here!

Don’t forget to make sure they’re level!

Then I grabbed two 1x2s to use vertically in between the two boards to create faux transom windows, and I have to say… I love how it turned out!

I simply placed my shower curtain tension rod back behind the horizontal board so it looked nice and hidden!

STEP 5: THE FINISHING TOUCHES

Now for the finishing touches. Caulk, wood filler, priming, painting, and sealing!

I wood filled all my nail holes and caulked around every single seam and gap I could find! You want to make sure your surround is 100% sealed!

Then I primed everything, painted with Pure White by Sherwin Williams, and took water proofing to the next level with a clear, matte polyurethane to protect it all further!

Then I added some beautiful new matte black fixtures so this tub and shower insert would go from looking drab and dated to totally custom and new!

What do you think? Would you ever try this yourself? The best part about these kinds of builds is you can always remove them down the line. Remember, we never adhered anything to the insert itself aside from caulk!