Ripping out a fiberglass shower

Skill level skill2

My name is Gary and I’m a fix-aholic. I can’t stop fixing things. My motto is “Make everything better.” My ever-loving wife, “Trudy” (not her real name), also has a motto: “Find things for Gary to make better.”

Our master bathroom had one of those prefab fiberglass shower stalls that Trudy thought could be made better.

The curved walls and molded-in seat made it pretty cramped.showerstall

Trudy said if you hit your elbows on the walls when you are washing your hair the shower is too small.

So we decided to replace the fiberglass shower stall in our master bathroom with tiled walls and glass doors. While we were at it, we could make the shower itself a little larger because the stall wasn’t as big as the space it was in. In other words, there was room to grow the shower without moving any of the walls in the bathroom.

So I disassembled the shower doors from the stall by unscrewing the sometimes stubborn screws. When you take things like this apart you see just how full of gunk and grime they are. I’ll spare you the details.

That turned out to be the only easy part of taking the old shower out.

At this point I could see some screws in strategic places around the outside of the stall and figured I was almost done.

I wasn’t.

A Phillips screw bit in my drill made pretty quick work of those screws but the shower stall wouldn’t budge. I should mention that I still had hope at this time that we could somehow take the shower stall out in one piece, get it down the stairs, and take it to the Habitat ReStore so that someone else could use it. Ha!

Although I could flex the walls of the stall away from the studs, the bottom wouldn’t even twitch. It became clear that the bottom was glued to the plywood subfloor with construction adhesive and consequently a permanent part of the house. But I can be stubborn too.

I knew I had to cut the fiberglass stall into pieces in order to get it out of there but after trying a couple of different tools I realized I needed to bring in the big guns.

I had recently bought a 4 1/2″ angle grinder. (I didn’t know what an angle grinder was either until I did a little research.) This is the DEWALT D28402K¬†angle grinder I got from Amazon.

angle grinder
Angle grinders are versatile tools for cutting and polishing

With an angle grinder you can cut and polish metal, masonry, ceramics, etc. Just screw on the right wheel and it works wonders.

I read that you could use a diamond cutting wheel to cut fiberglass so I bought one of those too. This DEWALT DW4701 blade is available from Lowes or Amazon.

diamond wheel
A grinder blade with diamond bits will cut most anything.

That blade cut through the fiberglass like it was cardboard. I had enough sense to wear a dust mask because it kicked up quite a bit of dust. I cut it into sections so I could take it apart and carry the pieces outside.

The base didn’t want to leave the floor and I had to use a large crowbar to convince it otherwise. It was glued to some 2″ x 8″ pieces of lumber that were nailed to the subfloor. The nails let loose before the glue did. Then I sawed the base into pieces too.

After ripping out fiberglass shower
After ripping out fiberglass shower

I was enjoying a pretty good sense of accomplishment when I noticed a thick coating of white dust everywhere and realized I hadn’t seen the big picture before starting the project. Showers, as everyone knows, are in bathrooms and bathrooms have sinks and toothbrushes and pictures and towels. Fiberglass dust covered everything. (Did I mention there were toothbrushes?) Our bathroom also has two walk-in closets WITH OPEN DOORS. White dust was all over the clothes too.

Fortunately, my ever-loving wife, Trudy, is used to my “make it better” messes. Unfortunately, I’m in charge of vacuuming the house and that could explain why she kept smiling.

5 thoughts on “Ripping out a fiberglass shower”

  1. My name is Grace, and I’m a fixaholic, too. We are still vacuuming up the white dust caused when we removed the texture of the textured walls in our bedroom… In February.

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