Tub To Floor Transition (How To Create A Seamless Joint)

When installing a tub, it’s normal for there to be a gap between the bathtub and the floor. If you are keen on aesthetics, you will want to cover up that gap because it may look unsightly.

For those engaging in such a project for the first time, and wondering how to create the perfect transition from tub to the floor, you have come to the right place.

In the guide below, I will take you through the process of creating an aesthetically appealing transition from the tub to the floor and everything else you may need to know about this project.

Square Bathtub and shower stall with glass door inside bathroom with tiles on floor. A stainless steel towel rod is mounted on the plain whithe wall.

How to Create a Tub-to-Floor Transition?

Step 1: Gather the Following Items

You are going to need three main things; silicone caulk, masking tape, and cove molding. These are materials you can get at a nearby Home Depot, Lowes, or other hardware stores. Alternatively, you can purchase them online.

Step 2: Measure the Length of the Tub to Floor Transition

Before anything else, you will need to measure the length of the floor-to-tub transition using a tape measure. This measurement will help you identify the right size of the cove molding that you should fit inside that gap. Take that measurement and note it down.

Step 3: Cut the Cove Molding and Fit it into the Gap

Using the measurements obtained above, cut your cove molding and try to fit into the gap between the tub and floor. This part is crucial as it determines whether the cove molding will be a perfect fit.

Once it fits, take it out and set it aside. Cove moldings are made out of PVC. Therefore, they are relatively easy to cut using a saw or sharp knife.

Step 4: Clean the Gap Between the Tub and the Floor

Even though you can go ahead and start building the transition right away, it’s advisable to clean that gap. Debris and contaminants can prevent adhesion. Therefore, use a vacuum to get rid of dust and debris.

Then dab some rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth before wiping it over the gap. Rubbing alcohol usually dries very fast. So, you can move on to the next step right away.

Step 5: Place Some Masking Tape on Both Sides of the Floor and Tub

Masking tape will make it easier for you to clean off the silicone caulk that we will apply later. Ensure the masking tape is about an eighth inch away from the gap on both sides. To get a more accurate measurement, you can refit the molding cove to its position.

Step 6: Apply the Silicone Caulk

With the cove molding removed, apply silicone caulk all over the gap. Silicone caulk being a strong adhesive dries into a durable substance that prevents entry of air and water.

Therefore, besides enhancing adhesion between the gap and the cove molding, it will also waterproof your transition.

Step 7: Fit the Cove Molding

Immediately after applying and spreading the silicone caulk, fit the cove molding onto the gap. The reason behind this is to ensure the caulk adheres the cove molding to the gap.

Wipe off any excess silicone caulk with your hands and remove the masking tape. You will have successfully created a seamless tub-to-floor transition.

A pro tip when choosing cove moldings is to go for a finish that resembles the floor or tub. This will make the transition appear more uniform.

Can You Create a Tub to Floor Transition with Just Silicone Caulk?

Because of its impressive features, silicone caulk can sometimes be used on its own to create a tub-to-floor transition. But the finish created with only silicone caulk can’t be compared to using cove molding.

If you are in a hurry to build a tub-to-floor transition or you can’t get your hands on a cove molding, you can always use silicone caulk on its own. To do so, clean up the gap and apply the caulk in generous amounts.

Dip your finger in some water and then run it through the wet silicone caulk to create a smooth joint. You can then clean the excess caulk to create a seamless transition.

This is a common practice in most tub-to-floor transitions. However, to emphasize what I mentioned earlier. Silicone caulk by itself won’t create a more beautiful transition than installing a cove molding.

How Do You Transition Big Tubs to Floor Gaps?

The above method applies to tubs that sit on the same levels as the floor. However, if your tub is a bit higher then that may lead to some challenges when it comes to building a seamless transition. The good news, however, is that there are a couple of remedies worth trying.

If the tub-to-floor gap is bigger, preferably more than an inch wide, you will need to be creative. For instance, on the adjacent floor, you can add tile, an uncoupling membrane, and a cement board. These three items can use up more floor space and allow it to come closer to the tub.

Also, the tub needs to seat on a bed of mortar if it’s not on the same level as the floor. This won’t only help with the transition but it will ground the tab and prevent it from moving on its own.

As you attempt to build a transition on a tub-to-floor gap that’s too big, you should prepare to redo caulk joints more frequently. This is why it’s important to install tubs correctly.

How Long Do Tub-to-Floor Transitions Last?

If you use silicone caulk and cove molding as recommended above, the transition will hold up for years. Cove moldings are usually made of PVC.

Even though there are others made out of wood, the plastic ones have a longer lifespan. When bonded with silicone caulk, your tub-to-floor transition will serve for years because it will be resistant to water damage.

The problem with tub-to-floor transitions made using only silicone caulk is that they don’t have a lengthy lifespan. That’s because such a setup lacks structural support. You may notice cracks and chips with time.

How Do You Color Match Tub to Floor Transitions?

Even showers deserve a clean and consistent finish. Therefore, when you are building a tub-to-floor transition, you need to maintain a consistent look. There are two ways you can do this.

You can look for a silicone caulk that matches the color of your tub. This is usually easier if your tub has a neutral color such as white.

On the other hand, you can get cove molding in a finish that resembles either your tub or floor. It’s up to you to weigh between these options and figure out which one would best suit your preferences.

Can I Use a Bullnose Tile to Create a Tub to Floor Transition?

You sure can. Bullnose tiles are mainly used on the edges. But they can also be fitted on tub-to-floor transitions. You will need some tiling skills to pull off this project. But it’s still doable and the finish can look really good.

The best part about using a bullnose tile is that you can easily match it with your floor to create a seamless transition.

Should I Hire an Expert to Build a Tub to Floor Transition?

Well, that depends on how you view DIY construction jobs. The process is relatively simple, especially if you follow my guide. But if you aren’t a DIY enthusiast, you may run into several hiccups.

Hiring an expert to build a tub-to-floor transition isn’t a bad idea because you are assured of a good job. But, at the same time, you will have to pay labor fees.

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