Bathtubs are one of the best modern bathroom installations. However, bathtubs eventually produce a creaking noise, mainly acrylic bathtubs. Although replacing a bathtub that squeaks and creaks is a good idea, you don’t necessarily need to do so as soon as you hear the noises.
The key to repairing a creaky acrylic tub is identifying the noise source. A bathtub part of a tub surround can produce a squeaking noise where the acrylic wall and tub connect. A freestanding acrylic tub may squeak if the floor or subflooring beneath it is unstable or not effectively supported at the bottom.
In this guide, I will detail a few methods to make a bathtub stop creaking when entering, leaving or standing in it.
What Are the Two Main Types of Bathtubs?
A freestanding bathtub is the visual focal point of a bathroom. It captures the eye because, except for the plumbing, it sits alone, separate from all adjacent walls and fixtures. This type of bathtub is not incorporated into a bathroom’s design and architecture, unlike most home baths that are hidden away between three walls. This implies you’re in complete control over the tub’s placement, shape, size, and material.
A freestanding bathtub can be placed anywhere in a room. The only restriction is that it has to be placed where the water and waste lines can be connected to the faucet and tub receptacle. The configuration and structure of a freestanding bathtub can be as traditional or modern as desired and can directly impact the room’s overall design scheme.
Depending on the bathroom’s location and the robustness of the floor, you may choose a vintage or replicate cast iron clawfoot tub or a bathtub manufactured from a lighter material such as acrylic or fiberglass. Some contemporary designs of freestanding bathtubs include air nozzles and other luxury features to modernize this traditional style for the contemporary house.
Built-in bathtubs are built to fit the space available in a room and your preferred bathing amenities. Most built-in tubs have showerheads to create a combined bathing and showering area.
The showerheads are interchangeable based on personal preference, ranging from cascading designs to hand showers with retractable nozzles. Even shower enclosures and surrounds can be customized to fit a built-in bathtub.
Even though a built-in bathtub parallels the walls, it is still possible to customize its appearance. You can plan for a tub of nearly any design or even have an accessible walk-in tub installed.
There are three primary types of built-in baths that you may want to consider based on your preferences and available space.
- Undermount bathtubs are intended to rest beneath a deck to enable shower water to descend into the tub and offer a flat, stable surface around the tub’s edges.
- Drop-in tubs rest on a horizontal surface and rely on a raised lip to help secure the tub and prevent flooding.
- Alcove baths are the most popular design. These have walls on three sides and a front panel constructed from bathtub material that extends to the floor and serves as an anchor. These baths are integral to your bathroom’s design and architecture and should be meticulously planned to maximize space.
Is A Creaking Bath Dangerous
Although a creaking bathtub can be unsettling, the underlying reason will determine if it is dangerous.
Sometimes, a creaking bathtub may indicate a structural issue with the subfloor or floor beneath the bathtub. If that’s the case, the creaking may indicate more severe damage that could collapse the bath. In this situation, it is necessary to have an expert evaluate the floor and subfloor to assess the damage that has occurred and make the necessary restorations.
Nevertheless, a creaking bathtub often shows typical settling and movement over time. As a bathtub is filled and emptied of water, the weight and pressure can make it shift slightly, resulting in creaking noises. This is especially prevalent in older or improperly installed bathtubs.
This creaking may not be hazardous, but it can be annoying and may indicate that the bathtub needs to be adjusted or reinstalled to prevent additional movement and noise. This is especially true if other symptoms of wear and tear, such as fractures or leaks, accompany the creaking.
- There are two primary categories of bathtubs: fixed and freestanding. Fixed bathtubs are permanently attached to the ground, whilst freestanding bathtubs are moveable.
- Over time, bathtubs may creak due to uneven floor surfaces, issues, or thermal expansion.
- A correctly installed bathtub should not creak; minor creaks could indicate a problem requiring a do-it-yourself repair.
Bathtub Creaks When Standing in It. Causes
In addition, acrylic-coated bathtubs will make creaking noises more frequently. Acrylic is a transparent, glass-like substance made from polycarbonate, which imparts stone-like durability and a glass-like appearance.
When brushed against a surface, glassy objects generate an irritating sound. When an acrylic tub scrapes against the subfloor, it creates creaks, which is why acrylic bathtubs are so noisy.
According to Family Handyman, many acrylic baths have an acrylic shower surround to protect the shower room’s walls from moisture. Commonly, these acrylic surrounds slide into a frame along the top of the bathtub. If the surround and tub aren’t properly connected, you could notice a squeaking sound once you step in your tub due to the two components pressing together. Inspect the perimeter of the bathtub and shower surround to ensure the pieces are securely attached.
The degree of the crack’s severity and its accessibility will determine how to go about repairing a cracked bathtub. If the crack is visible and accessible, bathtub repair paint can be used to restore it. Follow the directions on the kit’s backside, and avoid over-coating the material.
If the crack is hard to get to, it is probably time to contact a professional. Occasionally, cracks or fractures in the bathtub may produce a fragment that is not visible. In other words, you have no clue where the creaking is originating from within the bathtub. If there are too much cracks, not only will the creaking drive you insane, but the tub may also begin to leak.
Tub and Subfloor Problems
Tubs made of acrylic are typically installed with a layer of foam or polyurethane between the tub and the bathroom floor.
After years of service, this material may be insufficient or deteriorated. Noise will occur when the acrylic bathtub comes into contact with the floor’s solid components.
To fix this issue, it will be necessary to remove the bathtub entirely, which can be a delicate process. After removing the tub, apply a new layer of foam or rubber and reinstall it.
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Thermal Expansion and Damaged Joints
The squeaking of the tub’s flooring is also primarily caused by thermal expansion.
Examine the tiles installed on the flooring. Darker tiles absorb heat more effectively than brighter ones. As the humidity rises, you may have observed a rise in the number of times your bathtub squeaks.
Also, if the subflooring gets damaged, the joints between the bathtub and the flooring could get damaged. It can make it either loose or snug.
How to Repair a Noisy Bathtub
Replace the layer of foam/rubber.
Acrylic tubs are usually installed with a layer of rubber or cushioning between the bathroom floor and the tub. If this layer is damaged or absent, you may hear the bathtub acrylic scraping against the floor surface as you move your weight in the tub. Replacement of the rubber or foam layer requires removing the bathtub and installing new rubber or foam material.
Adjusting the Tub
If removing your tub to install a new padding or rubber layer is tedious, you might want to try shimming your tub. Shims are small wedge-like shaped sections of timber that can be found in the majority of home improvement stores and are used to fill gaps between two surfaces. Insert a couple of shims between the tub and the floor in the area where you believe the creaking is occurring. If the shim resolves the issue, remove and trim the protruding portion so it does not protrude from the tub’s bottom.
Shimmying the Floor
Occasionally, a squeaky bathtub is a squeaky bathroom floor. This is another task for shims but must be accomplished from below. Access the crawl space or basement and install shims on the bathroom floor and the floor joists around the tub. This is not doable in bathrooms on the first floor of homes erected on a slab; the acrylic tub must be removed to secure the floor.
Meet Mike O’Connor, (a DIY enthusiast), living in Cincinnati, a city ranked as the noisiest in the USA.
As a work from home dad, I have a first hand experience of how noise can truly affect your well being.
Soundproofing isn’t something that should be taken as a hobby, it should be a skill that every homeowner should be equipped with.
Most of the work documented on this blog comes from purely first hand experience, and the products recommended work as indicated.