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Thread: Insulate a Bathtub?

  1. #1
    DIY Member BS's Avatar
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    Default Insulate a Bathtub?

    In the course of my bathroom remodeling research the past month or so, I've come across only a couple references to stuffing fiberglas insulation in the voids around the tub: one was to cut down on tub noise, the other to retain heat.

    How many of you pros do this? Are there any tricks for maximum effectiveness? Are there any potential problems to consider (like what happens if the insulation gets wet from a leak?)

    My tub (Swanstone Veritek) is already permanently installed, but I have access to the voids because I haven't installed the drywall or Swanstone wall panels yet.

    - Bernie

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Default

    It can't hurt, the cost is minimal, and there is no negative to it so go for it.

  3. #3
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Default

    I am no pro, yet I would say the same as Cass. And, I will probably do that at least at the back of our new tub where it sits next to an outside wall.

  4. #4
    Homeowner geniescience's Avatar
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    Default dense foam

    if you don't like the noise the tub walls make now (if it feels hollow or flimsy, when you are in the tub), then you'll need denser stuff than fiberglass. Something like polyisocyanurate foam (spray-on Great Stuff) which makes a bond to the tub wall. Combine that will some rigid foam scavenged from anywhere. Or you could press the soundproofing kind of batts that go between studs, tight.

    For heat insulation anything is good if it blocks empty air from moving. Bubble wrap is good. Foil faced anything is good too. Fiberglass is good there since no big air currents or pressure there.

    david

  5. #5

    Default

    The pic posted below is from a recent tub replacement that I did for a customer. The back wall is against the kitchen. The end wall on the right is against the outside wall. I'm not an expert on insulation but this looked like a really good job done about 25 years ago.
    Pic was taken after I removed the old fiberglass tub.


  6. #6

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    Just for the fun of it I added this slide show link for that job.

    http://s149.photobucket.com/albums/s...1170000814.pbw

  7. #7
    DIY Member Dan Pick's Avatar
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    Default Yes Insulate

    For the cost of a roll of unfaced insulation I think it makes good sense. I have insulated enamaled steel tubs in (2) homes I have owned in the past and it makes for a quieter and warmer tub.

  8. #8

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    Yes - I recently insulated my 2 new tubs (Kohler Sterling) and I noticed a huge difference. The bath water stayed warmer longer, and the tub itself was not as cold. These are both on interior walls.

    In addition, the noise was noticeably quieter, but not as quiet as if I had used sound proof insulation.

  9. #9
    In the Trades bctile601's Avatar
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    would any of you consider insulating these voids on a 'blow tub' I am getting ready to set ?
    http://www.americanstandard-us.com/p...l=&prodID=1742
    Brian

  10. #10
    DIY Member BS's Avatar
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    Default Sound Levels

    Brian -- I have no experience with that type of tub. But I can't see why you couldn't or shouldn't insulate it. Any cavity resonates sound, and insulating it cuts down on sound transmission.

    Everyone -- Based on your answers to my question, I insulated my tub the other night. I stuffed fiberglas insulation around the tub (already installed) and I could tell the difference just by tapping on the walls of the tub.

    I actually took before and after sound level readings of a straight stream of water coming out of the shower stem into the tub. It wasn't a rigorous scientific comparison by any means, but I wanted to get a sense of the sound-deadening capacity of the insulation. The background sound level reading AFTER insulating was about 3.5 decibels (dbA) higher than it was BEFORE insulating, but the AFTER reading with the shower on was about 2.5 dbA lower than it was BEFORE. These differences were fairly consistent among the various test locations in the bathroom and hallway.

    This may not seem like a lot, but decibels are on a logarithmic scale. My decibel math is very rusty, but basically this means that a difference of 3 dbA represents a doubling or halving of sound intensity.

    Insulation works! Thanks for your input.

    - Bernie

  11. #11
    Engineering Technician The old college try's Avatar
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    Default

    I'm actually at the same place you were. I'm about to install my tub and I'm contemplating insulating around it with fiberglass. I stayed in an apartment this past summer that had a plastic tub and the noise from the shower was unbearable. I think that everyones contributions and your final comments have convinced me. Thanks everyone! By the way, what type of insulation did you use? Does it matter if it has the paper on it? I noticed that my local lowes only sells rolls of r13 with the paper backing.

  12. #12
    DIY Member BS's Avatar
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    In my attic were many large remnants of vinyl-backed wraps of hot water heater insulation just waiting for me to find a good use for them. It took 20 years (! ) but the new bathtub presented the perfect opportunity. I simply peeled the vinyl backing off and stuffed the 1" thick fiberglas around the tub between the open studs. To insulate the front I had to poke a hole in the drywall at one end and use a stick to push the insulation into the void, making sure to get it into the top of that space. By tapping on the tub wall I was able to locate spots that I had missed.

    I definitely compressed the insulation but didn't overstuff it, nor did I leave it light and fluffy as if insulating solely for heat retention. I was going mainly for sound reduction so I knew it had to be somewhat dense.

    A DIY book I looked at recently showed a roll of insulation tied around a tub before it was set in place. I guess that would work for heat retention but I don't think it would be dense enough to help much with sound because there would still be air space.

    If I hadn't been lucky enough to have the remnants, I would have used a roll of unfaced insulation. I bought a roll at Lowe's or HD a couple years ago, so you might have to ask for it if you don't see it. Also, fiberglas is fiberglas and it's simply the thickness of the batt that determines R-value.

    Wishing you quiet showering . . .
    - Bernie

  13. #13
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    Default

    I'm getting ready to install a tub and have the same question. What about spraying the tub with expanding foam insulation? It seems that would provide insulation and possibly also help make it feel more solid. I was thinking of coating the sides and back of the tub, leaving the front mostly open for plumbing and the buttom open to set in a mortar bed.

  14. #14
    Customer Service Manager Plumbing Wholesale Peanut9199's Avatar
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    Default

    Look at post #4 from geniescience

    if you don't like the noise the tub walls make now (if it feels hollow or flimsy, when you are in the tub), then you'll need denser stuff than fiberglass. Something like polyisocyanurate foam (spray-on Great Stuff) which makes a bond to the tub wall.

  15. #15
    DIY Junior Member
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    Default Whirlpool tub

    Can I insulate a whirlpool tub?

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