Very unlevel slab alcove tub apron gap question

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JasonB0020

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Hi all. I have a question. I have been trying to replace my tub for a week now and have been having problems. Mostly from my own lack of experience I suppose. It's a Kohler Elmbrook right drain acrylic tub. The floor under the tub slopes 1/2 inch in four feet measured at the end of a level. I shimmed the left end feet under the tub up 3/8 inch with lauan sheets to level, marked the tub tile ledge on the studs, poured mortar directly on the floor down the middle of where the tub well sits, a whole bag and a half, and sat the tub in the mortar. Everything with the tub and wall framing lines up so plumb and level, just beautiful. Well, a problem I didn't quite foresee is that there is a gap about 1/2 inch at the left end of the apron, sloping back to the right end which is in contact with the slab. There's ceramic tile in front of the tub that hides part of the gap between the floor and apron, but it's still a pretty good gap. Now, I know it's too late to think I'll be able to pull the tub, the mortar has already cured and I forgot the plastic between tub and mortar, so it's there. I may be able to get to about the first foot of the backside of the apron through the stud framing, but there's no way I'll get any further, plus the way it's constructed I doubt I'd be able to shove any mortar in from the backside. I've seen warnings not to shim the apron so I left that alone. Evidently I'm missing something here. Any suggestions?
 

Weekend Handyman

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Hi all. I have a question. I have been trying to replace my tub for a week now and have been having problems. Mostly from my own lack of experience I suppose. It's a Kohler Elmbrook right drain acrylic tub. The floor under the tub slopes 1/2 inch in four feet measured at the end of a level. I shimmed the left end feet under the tub up 3/8 inch with lauan sheets to level, marked the tub tile ledge on the studs, poured mortar directly on the floor down the middle of where the tub well sits, a whole bag and a half, and sat the tub in the mortar. Everything with the tub and wall framing lines up so plumb and level, just beautiful. Well, a problem I didn't quite foresee is that there is a gap about 1/2 inch at the left end of the apron, sloping back to the right end which is in contact with the slab. There's ceramic tile in front of the tub that hides part of the gap between the floor and apron, but it's still a pretty good gap. Now, I know it's too late to think I'll be able to pull the tub, the mortar has already cured and I forgot the plastic between tub and mortar, so it's there. I may be able to get to about the first foot of the backside of the apron through the stud framing, but there's no way I'll get any further, plus the way it's constructed I doubt I'd be able to shove any mortar in from the backside. I've seen warnings not to shim the apron so I left that alone. Evidently I'm missing something here. Any suggestions?

I am not a plumber or a pro.

I used self leveling compound to level my alcove (it was way out). After that, there was still a 1/8 inch slope/dip on one side. I shimmed the complete length of the dip placing 30 small small 1 inch wide sims side by side. I used construction adhesive to stick the shims to the floor. I cut the shims about 3/8 out from the tub (flush with the SLC pad) and covered it with a piece of moulding. The idea was to completely support the apron along the length of the dip. Aside from the fact that I most likely void my warranty, it has worked out well so far (knock on wood).

Some things you might want to think about:
- If you are on a slab, moisture may rot the shims.
- I would not place shims on top of each other. Doing so will create a big angle for the apron to sit on. Maybe some flat stock first.
 

Tuttles Revenge

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Or.. if you have the skill and really nice tools, you can scribe a line to match the floor and cut the skirt to match.
 

Jeff H Young

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You could grind the skirt but then you'd likely have to take some off the feet to get it to sit on floor . the alcove doesn't need to be level it has nothing to do with anything what does mater is tub sits level and the floor in the rest of the bathroom Matters but not to me as a plumber if customer wants to address the floor out a wack then we need to talk about what's wrong and how to fix.
Having the apron down on floor is good but supporting the tub on the apron is not good aprons job isn't to support the weight of a tub full of water . the feet , the ledger board, carry the tub screws through flange and the apron edge are not supposed to carry it . also a morter setting bed in piles is good, not necessarily needed but really just wraps things up in an excellent install.
You wind up with only a little weight in each place.
 

JasonB0020

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You could grind the skirt but then youd likely have to take some off the feet to get it to sit on floor . the alcove dosent need to be level it has nothing to do with anything what does mater is tub sits level and the floor in the rest of the bathroom Matters but not to me as a plumber if customer wants to adress the floor out a wack then we need to talk about whats wrong and how to fix.
Having the apron down on floor is good but supporting the tub on the apron is not good aprons job isnt to support the weight of a tub full of water . the feet , the ledger board, carry the tub screws through flange and the apron edge are not supposed to carry it . also a morter setting bed in piles is good, not nessesarily needed but really just wraps things up in an excellant install.
You wind up with only a little weight in each place.
Lol, my wife might shoot me if she saw me trying to grind on the tub! Most of my support should be with the mortar bed, I only did that under the basin area per Kohler instructions. I also screwed the tile ledge to the wall studs in all available stud locations except for the corners. I only screwed in the long side to studs, and skipped doing the short wall stud in the adjacent corner. Wife pointed out that would be a good way to crack something with that opposing force that close together. My main concern is someone sitting on the tub side causing the gap at the end to torque the tub apron structure and bust something either at the apron side, or the far diagonal corner from the gap between apron and floor. I will post pics later today of the gap and install. Just don't have a pic of the mortar pile, but it was a big one. It should be completely supporting the bottom the way I did it. The next morning early early while the mortar was still wet I double checked to make sure all gaps were filled and made more mortar and shoved it in through the studs by hand to fill any gaps I felt. So tub has plenty of support, but one thing I did NOT do was plastic drop cloth over the pile, so that bad boy ain't coming out in one piece. After the hell I went through with the unsupported Aquatic tub that started cracking that the previous owner installed, I didn't intend to do this twice. We some big people, I wanted it solid. Which is why I'm scared of the apron not having support. I'm half tempted to go through both ends with handfuls of wet mortar and lay it under the horizontal piece of fiberglass/wood to fill the gap.
 

Jeff H Young

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the reason I brought up grinding apron was if it was to hide a hideous gap like a 3/8 or 1/2 inch gap but if your doing tile on floor it could cover gap. Sure if you can pack it in from ends good to do ! I never used a plastic sheet that's a good idea.
Another good practice is even though your done already. Is for others its always good to have solid support under the feet on floor or shims
 

JasonB0020

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Mortared it. I packed in the first two feet from the backside where I could reach by hand under the apron until it flowed out of the front, up to the horizontal stringer inside the back of the apron on both ends and then wiped the mortar smooth with the front of the tub. Looks pretty good. Hopefully that was the right thing to do. I'd attach pics but they are too big.
 

Weekend Handyman

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Mortared it. I packed in the first two feet from the backside where I could reach by hand under the apron until it flowed out of the front, up to the horizontal stringer inside the back of the apron on both ends and then wiped the mortar smooth with the front of the tub. Looks pretty good. Hopefully that was the right thing to do. I'd attach pics but they are too big.

Just out of curiosity, how thick is the apron that is being supported? Mine was only 1/8 thick or something like that.
 

Jeff H Young

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Just out of curiosity, how thick is the apron that is being supported? Mine was only 1/8 thick or something like that.
Yea they are thin that's why its not meant to bear the full weight of tub. Sounds like you got it done real solid! Now I guess on to the valve and wall covering
 

JasonB0020

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This one is about a quarter inch thick. I kept being scared of "shimming the apron" and then it dawned on me that what is being talked about is actually using the apron as the main support for leveling, and not using the legs for leveling, which would break the apron most likely. So, what I've done should be okay I hope, because it's not for actual support of the full weight of the entire tub, water, bather and all, and it's spread out over a few feet of the apron to minimize pressure points. Now on to surround and water valve position setting. I have a Sterling surround that went with a crappy Sterling tub that I swapped for this Kohler Elmbrook after finding a busted end on the Sterling tub. Took one panel out and it doesn't look like it will work, so now back to Home depot to swap that, get some wetrock and a glue up surround. The previous owner kinda screwed me on future installs without tearing the whole wall out. They furred the wall with strips on the drain end to make the sheetrock work, but on the back and long wall end they did not. The back is the worst. There's a window there, they sheeted the wall up to the tub, no furring strips, and laid the sheetrock right on the studs up to the tub screw flange (was a one piece shower tub). Well naturally that didn't lay right, well they then put baseboard down and screwed a big screw through the baseboard to suck that straight board down into the curve made by the unleveled, unfurred sheetrock, of course they also instead of running the tile floor to the wall, they cut a corner off to match the improperly installed sheetrock area, so I have a big ugly hole between wall and tile I'll have to cover. Not to mention other issues in the house. The whole house had been redone by the previous owner after a fire, they must not understand how to screw sheetrock because most every screw in the bathroom was run a little over an eighths inch deep, some a quarter inch deep. I always thought you were supposed to suck it up to where the screw JUST dimples the paper on the front, and then you barely cover the screw head with a dap of mud. So most all screws in the house now show up on the wall in some way or another.
 
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