Replacing a bathtub faucet can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re unsure whether the new faucet you purchase will properly fit your existing tub. With different faucet sizes, configurations, and installation methods, it‘s normal to have questions about interchangeability and compatibility.
As a home improvement expert who has helped hundreds of homeowners update and refresh their bathrooms, I’m often asked, “Are all tub faucets interchangeable?” The short answer is no – you can’t replace just any tub faucet with another without considering size, style, and installation requirements. But with the right information and preparations, replacing your tub faucet can be a straightforward DIY project.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about replacing bathtub faucets. We’ll cover:
- Determining your existing faucet style and configuration
- Measuring your tub to find the right replacement
- Faucet installation types
- Step-by-step faucet replacement instructions
- Helpful tips for a smooth installation
Follow along and you’ll gain the confidence and know-how to upgrade your tub with a brand new faucet. Let’s dive in!
Can You Replace Bathtub Fixtures Without Changing the Valve?
When undertaking a bathtub faucet replacement project, one of the first questions that comes up is whether you can swap out the fixtures – the handles, spout, and/or showerhead – without also replacing the valve.
The valve is the inner workings of the faucet that controls water flow and mixing. Replacing this often requires altering water supply lines. Fixtures, on the other hand, are the outer cosmetic pieces.
In many cases, the answer is yes – you can replace fixtures without replacing the valve. As long as the new fixtures are compatible with the existing valve size and connections, and the valve itself is in good working order, swapping out fixtures is possible.
Before buying any new fixtures, carefully examine your existing setup. Note the size and location of any holes in the tub rim or wall, as well as the size of the valve behind them.
Then shop for replacement fixtures designed to fit that particular configuration. For example, if you have a standard 4-inch spread between holes for separate hot and cold handles, seek out 4-inch spread replacement handles.
When installing new fixtures with the existing valve, take things slowly and methodically. Turn off the main water supply, then carefully detach the old fixtures. Clean away any sealant or buildup around the valve. Then install the new fixtures, ensuring a snug, aligned fit.
With the right measurements and valve compatibility verified ahead of time, refreshing fixtures is a very doable DIY project!
Can I Replace Just the Tub Faucet?
Many homeowners want to upgrade their dingy, dated tub faucet but aren’t sure if replacement of the entire unit is necessary. The good news is that in many cases, you can replace just the faucet itself, leaving the hot and cold supply valves intact. Here are some tips for a smooth faucet-only replacement project:
Turn off the water: Shut off the water supply lines and drain any remaining water from the faucet. This prevents leaks while you work.
Remove old faucet: Use a basin wrench to unscrew the faucet nuts and lift off the old faucet. Remove any remaining sealant or buildup.
Examine valves: Inspect the hot and cold supply valves. Make sure they’re in good shape with no leakage or corrosion. Replace if necessary.
Purchase new faucet: Choose a new faucet in the appropriate style, size and configuration for your existing water supply setup.
Install new faucet: Position the faucet according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure any gaskets or washers are properly in place before tightening nuts.
Reconnect supplies: Reattach the hot and cold water supply lines using the provided fittings. Make sure they’re snug but not overtightened.
Confirm proper operation: Turn the water back on and test for leaks. Adjust water temperature and pressure as needed.
As long as your supply valves are in good working order, replacing just the faucet is an easy DIY job. Taking the time to properly install the new faucet will ensure leaks are avoided.
How Do You Know If a Faucet Will Fit?
When preparing to replace your tub faucet, how can you be sure that the model you choose will properly fit your existing setup? There are a few key measurements and factors to consider:
Sink/tub holes: Count the number of pre-drilled holes in your tub or sink countertop. This determines the faucet configuration.
Hole spacing: Measure the distance between holes. Many widespread faucets require holes spaced 4 inches apart.
Water supply lines: Measure the space between the hot and cold supply lines emerging from the wall. Standard is 1 inch.
Height/clearance: Measure from the tub rim or sink bottom to ensure adequate clearance for the new faucet.
Faucet size: Check that the spout length, handle height, and base size will fit the existing space.
Valve type: Determine if you have compression, cartridge, or ball valves and choose appropriate connections.
Finish/style: Pick a faucet finish and style that matches your existing décor.
As long as your new faucet aligns with the existing hole configuration, supply line spacing, and valve type, it should install smoothly. Taking careful measurements beforehand ensures faucet-to-fixture compatibility.
Do Bathtub Faucets Come in Different Sizes?
Bathtub faucets are available in a range of sizes, finishes and styles to complement different tub configurations. Here are some of the most common:
Single-handle: Compact and contemporary, with handle to control flow and temperature.
Double-handle: Classic two-handle design with separate hot and cold handles.
Wall-mount: Faucet mounts directly to wall rather than tub rim. Requires special plumbing.
Roman tub: High-arching spout and handles to fill a raised tub.
Freestanding: Floor-mounted tub filler placed near rather than on the tub.
Shower/tub combo: Includes an adjustable showerhead and diverter.
Vessel fillers: Designed for vessel sinks; often very tall with long spouts.
The size you need depends on factors like your existing hole configuration, tub type, and space available. Carefully measure before choosing a faucet size to ensure an optimal fit. An expert at your local home improvement store can further advise you.
Are Faucets One Size Fits All?
While it would certainly be convenient if any faucet could fit any space, unfortunately the reality is that faucets are not one size fits all. The size and configuration of a faucet must be compatible with your existing sink, tub, and plumbing setup in several ways:
Hole count: Single-hole, centerset, or widespread faucet based on hole number/placement.
Hole spacing: Proper width for hot and cold handles based on hole distance.
Water supplies: Faucet connections must match supply line size and valve type.
Clearance: Faucet dimensions must allow for rim/backsplash clearance.
Spout reach: Spout should extend comfortably into sink bowl or tub.
Drain placement: Spout positioned to allow proper drain clearance.
Deck size: Faucet base sized to fit sink ledge or tub deck area.
Taking careful measurements of your existing setup is key before selecting a replacement faucet. While you want an attractive, updated style, fit and function are most important for a successful faucet installation.
Can You Change a Faucet Without a Plumber?
With the right tools and preparation, many DIYers can tackle a faucet replacement project without calling a professional plumber. Here are some step-by-step instructions:
Turn off hot and cold water supply lines and position bucket to catch water.
Have replacement faucet and all necessary supplies ready (pliers, wrenches, screws, sealant, etc.).
Remove Old Faucet
Disconnect and detach supply lines from bottom of faucet.
Unscrew mounting nuts or bracket hardware and lift faucet out.
Use putty knife to scrape away old plumber’s putty or caulk.
Install New Faucet
Apply plumber’s putty or caulk to bottom of new faucet.
Lower faucet into place aligning holes. Hand tighten mounting hardware.
Reconnect hot and cold supply lines to faucet. Wrench tighten.
Remove any excess putty/caulk. Turn on water and test for leaks.
With proper preparation and by working slowly and carefully, an experienced DIYer can absolutely tackle a faucet replacement on their own. But don’t hesitate to call a pro if any issues emerge with valve connections or supply lines.
What Are the Different Types of Tub Faucets?
If you‘re in the market for a new tub faucet, you‘ll quickly find there are numerous styles and configurations to choose from. Here are some of the most common:
Single-handle – One lever controls both water flow and temperature. Simple operation and sleek contemporary look.
Double-handle – Separate hot and cold handles for precise temperature control. Traditional style.
Wall-mount – Installed directly to the wall rather than the tub rim. Requires special valves.
Roman tub – High-arching gooseneck style spout and handles. Made to fill deep soaking tubs.
Deck-mount – Mounts to tub deck or rim. Available in widespread and centerset configurations.
Freestanding – Floor-mounted tub filler placed near the tub. Often a statement piece.
Shower/tub combo – Includes showerhead and diverter. Great for tub/showers.
Consider your existing setup, plumbing, and holes available before selecting a faucet type. An expert at your local home improvement retailer can help guide you if you’re unsure what will work best.
Is Changing a Bathtub Faucet Hard?
Changing out a bathtub faucet requires some plumbing know-how but is very doable for an experienced DIYer. Here are the basic steps:
Turn off the water supply and drain lines. Remove old faucet.
Prepare new faucet by attaching handles, spout, etc. per included directions.
Position new faucet and hand tighten mounting nuts, bracket, or other hardware.
Connect hot and cold supply lines. Wrench tighten.
Seal around faucet with plumber‘s putty or caulk.
Turn water supply back on and test for leaks.
The most difficult parts are accessing the mounting hardware on the old faucet and ensuring the new faucet body is aligned properly before tightening everything down. Having the right tools for leverage helps immensely.
Patience and following manufacturer’s directions also go a long way! Calling on a second set of hands can be useful as well.
How Do I Know If My Tub Spout Is Slip Fit?
Tub spouts typically attach via either a threaded connection or a “slip fit” method. With slip fit spouts, verifying the diameter of the spout opening is the best way to identify this connection type.
Slip fit spouts are designed to fit over a copper supply tube with an outer diameter of 0.75 inches. To determine if your spout is slip fit:
Remove spout by twisting and pulling forcefully. You may need pliers for grip.
Examine the opening the spout fits over. Measure the diameter across the opening.
If the measurement is approximately 0.75”, it is likely a slip fit connection. Any other diameter indicates threads.
You can also check for threads visually, but the diameter measurement is the most reliable method. This is important when replacing the spout, as slip fit and threaded spouts are not interchangeable. Using the wrong connection type will lead to leaks. Consult a plumbing pro if you’re unsure!
Are All Bath Tub Spouts the Same Size?
While many tub spouts may appear generically similar at a glance, there are some distinct size differences to note:
Length – Spouts range in protrusion length from about 4 to over 12 inches long depending on tub type and water pressure needs.
Width – Standard tub spouts are approximately 1.5 to 2 inches wide. Larger rainfall-style spouts may be up to 4 inches wide.
Connection Size – Slip-fit spouts fit over 0.75” pipe; threaded spouts vary more in diameter.
Height – Deck-mount spouts sit 2 to 3 inches above the tub rim while wall-mount height varies.
Additionally, the overall size and shape can differ based on the aesthetic look, from simple cylindrical to fancy curved profiles.
When replacing a tub spout, your existing piping and faucet configuration will dictate what size replacement will fit. Always measure carefully before purchasing. An incorrectly sized spout can lead to leaks or other issues down the road.
How Much Does a Plumber Charge to Replace a Bathtub Faucet?
Hiring a professional plumber to replace a bathtub faucet typically costs $200-$400, depending on your location and the specifics of the job. Here are some of the factors that influence price:
Type of faucet – More complex valve systems or wall-mount installations cost more.
Accessibility – Tight, cramped spaces drive up labor time and difficulty.
Pipe modifications – Changing supply lines or valves adds expenses in parts and time.
Drain adjustments – Altering drain piping to fit a new faucet adds labor costs.
Disposal fees – Removing and disposing an old faucet costs extra.
Location – Labor rates for plumbers vary based on geographic region.
Time – Simple swaps take less time (and money) than full removals and replacements.
While a little pricier than doing it yourself, a professional plumber has the expertise to handle any complexities that emerge and provide warranty on labor. Get multiple quotes before hiring.
Can a Handyman Replace a Bathroom Faucet?
In most cases, yes – with some qualifications. While a licensed plumber is best for major bathroom remodels, an experienced handyman can usually tackle a straightforward faucet replacement.
Factors to consider when hiring a handyman include:
Training – Seek proof they are familiar with basic plumbing repairs.
Certification – Some states require plumbers to be certified; handymen typically are not.
Insurance – Make sure they carry general liability insurance in case of property damage.
Warranty – Handymen rarely provide warranties on labor. Verify what‘s covered.
Complexity – For difficult jobs involving piping modifications, call a licensed plumber.
Providing diagrams, instructions, tools, and materials can help a handyman complete the faucet replacement successfully. Get references and review past work before hiring.
How to Replace a Two Handle Bathtub Faucet with a Single Handle?
Replacing a two handle tub faucet with a sleek single handle model is a great way to update your bathroom‘s look. Here are the steps:
Turn off water supply to entire bathroom and drain lines. Remove old handles and spout. Clean surface thoroughly.
Install New Valve
Install new single handle valve according to manufacturer instructions. Ensure proper position and secure mounting.
Attach New Handle
Attach the new single handle to the valve assembly. Ensure correct alignment before fully tightening.
Install New Spout
Clean spout opening thoroughly. Apply plumber’s putty and slide new spout into place. Wipe away excess putty.
Connect Supply Lines
Connect hot and cold supply lines to valve inlets. Wrench tighten for secure, leak-proof seals.
Turn water supply back on and test operation of new faucet. Caulk around base if needed. Add any decorative trims and enjoy your updated bathtub!
Upgrading to a single handle model is one of the easiest and most effective ways to update your tub‘s look. With some patience and proper preparation, you can achieve a designer-worthy transformation.