How to Remove a Cast-Iron Tub
My neighbor is remodeling his bathroom and he called recently to ask if I could help him remove an old cast-iron bathtub. The tub was too heavy for him to move on his own. I told him I’d be right over with my sledgehammer. As I was hanging up, I heard him shout, “Wait, what?”
Now, using a sledgehammer to remove a bathtub might seem a bit extreme, but it’s actually the simplest, most practical approach. The cast-iron tub would be much too difficult and heavy to carry from the bathroom, down the stairs and out of the house in one piece. But, by using the sledgehammer to crack the tub in half, removal is much easier. Not quieter, but certainly easier.
Caution: When attempting this technique, be sure to wear work gloves, eye goggles, hearing protection and a dust mask. Here’s a brief description of the process:
Drape a thick canvas drop cloth or quilted moving pad over the front edge of the tub. The fabric will prevent the hammer blows from bouncing off the tub, but more importantly it’ll contain flying shards of porcelain and iron.
Stand outside the tub and swing the sledgehammer like a golf club (as shown above). Strike the outer, center surface of the tub just above the floor. Then strike it again about 6 in. higher. Continue hitting the tub, moving up 6 in. with each blow until the outside wall of the tub cracks.
Now step one foot inside the tub and repeat the process to crack the inside surface of the tub. Again, strike the center of the tub wall, starting low and moving up after each impact. Continue striking the inside tub wall until it cracks.
Check to confirm that the crack extends across the top edge of the tub. If it doesn’t, strike the top with the sledge. Then, lay the drop cloth across the floor of the tub and give it a few good whacks until it fractures (below).
Next, reposition the drop cloth to cover the back wall of the tub, directly across from the cracked front wall. Strike the tub wall several times starting low and moving up with each blow until the tub wall cracks vertically. Then, with an overhand swing, bring the sledgehammer down onto the top edge of the tub. One good whack should crack the tub’s edge (below).
Lift the drop cloth to see if the tub has cracked completely in half. If not, replace the drop cloth and use the sledgehammer to deliver the final blows.
Once the tub has cracked into two halves, lift one half and carry it from the house (above). Repeat for the second half, then sweep up the remaining dust and debris.
And if you find that the tub halves are still too heavy, use the sledge to bust them into smaller pieces.