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 Drilling faucet holes in an acrylic tub or deckmounting the faucet
Author: Melisande101 (CA)

First, let me say THANKS to this forum for solving every plumbing issue (including emergencies) that we've had in the past - just knowing you're here allows me to sleep better during a remodel.

Now, it's the bathroom. I'm meeting with our plumber this week but I don't want to sound too stupid (or have him think I've got a glass pipe hanging out my mouth).

We purchased an acrylic whirlpool tub and now I'm looking for faucets. It's to be a drop-in tub (no shower, just handheld spray) with a tiled deck. The rim of the tub will rise about 2-3 inches above the deck (it is higher at the head of the tub). I either have to get a tub filler that goes over that rim and is deck mounted, or drill holes in the deck area of the tub. It's an hour glass shaped tub with little platforms that could be suitable for a faucet mounted right on the tub deck - but there are no holes.

Here's the tub:

[s185.photobucket.com]



Can we drill holes on the deck of the acrylic tub? We think it sounds like a great idea - but is it? If I could drill holes on the tub I might consider one of those wide set waterfall tub fillers (maybe) - if it would fit.

Thanks so much in advance for your help.



Edited 3 times.

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 Re: Drilling faucet holes in an acrylic tub or deckmounting the faucet
Author: North Carolina Plumber (NC)

Yes, you can drill holes on the little platform to mount the faucet. You would have to be sure that the spouts outlet is at least 4" above the rim of the tub though, thats the amount of an air gap that is required. And it appears that the shelf is above the overflow opening, that would prevent the handles from being under water. I believe the faucet would look better mounted on the tile, with a long spout reaching above and beyond the rim of the tub.

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 Re: Drilling faucet holes in an acrylic tub or deckmounting the faucet
Author: packy (MA)

MA considers the hand held as a shower and as such, it must be non scald. check your local codes.
the hand held must be protected from backflow under every code i know of. make sure yours has backflow protection.
i don't like the faucet mounted where you have to climb over it to get into the tub. it also shouldn't be where you have to reach far to turn it on.
you need flat surface under where the faucet is mounted so it will sit straight.

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 Re: Drilling faucet holes in an acrylic tub or deckmounting the faucet
Author: Melisande101 (CA)

I would prefer deck mounted as well (near the foot of the tub, on the front side) - but wasn't sure that it would reach far enough. All faucets look strangely short to me, but I'm not a plumber! Thanks for the tip on scald proof - is a good idea regardless of code.

I totally agree about not wanting to climb over it. We were thinking of having the controls for the tub filler mounted on the wall (where shower controls would have been - about that level), but they would turn on the tubfiller mounted on the backside of the tub. I just don't think it would look all that keen to have such a filler anywhere but in the middle of the back (and there's that thingie in the tub to have to get the water over, are there faucets that long?)

If I could have it any way I wanted it, I'd have a faucet on the deck in the back middle, but controlled from the front left corner. Does that make any sense at all?

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 Re: Drilling faucet holes in an acrylic tub or deckmounting the faucet
Author: Melisande101 (CA)

I guess the reason I'm considering drilling the tub is that I can't picture faucets very well. I keep worrying about a faucet being long enough to reach from the deck to clear the rim of the tub. Obviously, such faucets exist. If the rim is 4" near the foot of the tub (which it is, I think it's just a hair under 4";) then I need a faucet that extends, what, 6"? Is this what is called a high arc faucet?

How much space would you leave between the tub rim and the faucet for cleaning?

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 Re: Drilling faucet holes in an acrylic tub or deckmounting the faucet
Author: jblanche (WI)

Things I'd change if doing it over again:

All this assumes you sit in the tub with your head at 6 o'clock and your feet at 12 o'clock, and you get in the tub between about 3 and 5 o'clock. There is an alcove with only roughly the 11 to 5 o'clock side open.

1. The tub spout goes at 11 o'clock or 5 o'clock. This allows you to get in without stepping over the spout.

2. The controls go at 5 o'clock on the deck. This allows you to easily add water while you're sitting in tub as well as initially before you get in the tub.

If the spout is right next to the controls, it will be easier to adjust the temperature. If the spout is at 11 o-clock, there will be a delay between when you change the control and when the water temperature changes. I don't know if you've had a similar tub before but with the jets or pump running, the water cools off fast unless you have a good-sized heater in the circulation system. So you would have to add hot water if there's no heater.

3. Besides the scald protection, you also may need backflow protection with the hand shower. I think that was previously mentioned. My Delta instructions showed this using a hose-connected vacuum breaker [HCVB] in a hidden washer box which would have required a trapped drain or indirect drain. Instead, we used a wall-mounted vacuum breaker on the back wall above the deck.

4. It may be worth considering a totally separate hand shower and tub filler if you need scald protection on the handshower. It's nice to have the ability to add straight hot water from the spout, but I don't think you'll be able to do that with a scald protection valve.

5. If you buy the whole getup together, like I did, you've got five deck penetrations: Diverter, handshower, hot, cold, tub filler. That's a lot of real estate. Measure carefully to see where everything's going before you make any holes. I'd probably look at a more compact option now.

6. If you put the controls on the open side, and unless you have a removable skirt, it would be best to have an access panel in the skirt nearby, unless you've got an adjacent wall or a nice-sized floor hatch. I'd probably do an access panel that could somehow be exactly the size of a few tiles and as inconspicuous as possible.

7. If there's a wall available where you could conceivably put a handicap-type railing, put plywood or 2x4s in the wall so that you could easily add one later. Or now. With a deep tub it's nice to have something to grab while you're getting in.

*******************************
Links to the State of Wisconsin Plumbing Code:
[docs.legis.wisconsin.gov]
*******************************
I am not a plumber.
*******************************

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 Re: Drilling faucet holes in an acrylic tub or deckmounting the faucet
Author: Melisande101 (CA)

Okay, I'm slooowly starting to get this.

The tub does have a heater but don't know how good - want ability to add hot water easily.

Thanks so much, JBlanche for the detailed discussion - I'm writing it on my diagrams right now, makes it SO much easier to hear your experiences.

According to local code, I could use a wall-mounted "handheld" shower like the Grohe one on a bar - and your idea about having fewer thingies is definitely being heard here. I suppose I could use it as a tub filler too, but I want something with more flow than 2.5 gpm. The additional handheld thingie would then be superfluous and silly.

I need to think about that vacuum issue - we do have wall space nearby for the type of thing you describe, we haven't done our framing yet. I wouldn't need it if I had only a tub filler right? And if I get a wall mounted handheld shower (like Grohe's) then I'm sure my plumber will know what to do to install it.

So, hey - we're not going to have to drill that tub! I just need to find a tub filler faucet that is long and high enough and decide whether I can tolerate the delay in temperature changing if I put the controls away from it. Our tub is actually a 2 person tub and I plan to sit it in every whicha-way, ;)! On the other hand, I do intend to be very lazy while in that tub, as well.

You have been so helpful today, you don't even know.

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 Re: Drilling faucet holes in an acrylic tub or deckmounting the faucet
Author: packy (MA)

long tub spouts are called "roman tub spouts"..
[images.google.com]

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 Re: Drilling faucet holes in an acrylic tub or deckmounting the faucet
Author: jblanche (WI)

>>The tub does have a heater but don't know how good - want ability to add hot water easily.

Your tub looks like it is water-jetted. Those generally do not lose heat as fast as tubs like mine, which is air-jetted. Nonetheless if you have an electric inline heater, you may want to assess the BTU rating or at least the wattage. My Ultra heater has something like 1500 watts, about the equivalent of a hair dryer. It's better than nothing, but not sufficient.

>>I suppose I could use it as a tub filler too, but I want something with more flow than 2.5 gpm. The additional handheld thingie would then be superfluous and silly.

You definitely want maximum flow rate if you don't like to wait for the tub to fill. Some of the valves even come in 3/4".

I don't think a handheld is ever superfluous; My wife uses it a lot for just washing her hair from the side of the tub. I use it all the time to get the kid's bubble bath dregs out before the air-jet purge cycle begins, and it is essential when cleaning.

>>I need to think about that vacuum issue - we do have wall space nearby for the type of thing you describe, we haven't done our framing yet. I wouldn't need it if I had only a tub filler right? And if I get a wall mounted handheld shower (like Grohe's) then I'm sure my plumber will know what to do to install it.

As far as I know, you only need the complicated vacuum breaker with the deck-mounted hand shower. If the handshower is wall-mounted with a drop ell, and the drop ell is high enough off the deck, you can use a chrome or matching HCVB right there between the drop ell and the hose. Wall-mount would be the way to go if it's practical.

Consumer Reports August 2005 has a report on whirlpool baths that you might find helpful. I suppose the models may be outdated but they have some good general info.

*******************************
Links to the State of Wisconsin Plumbing Code:
[docs.legis.wisconsin.gov]
*******************************
I am not a plumber.
*******************************

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 Re: Drilling faucet holes in an acrylic tub or deckmounting the faucet
Author: Melisande101 (CA)

Thanks for the words about the wall mount - that's exactly how we want it to go, now that you've helped us consider it. For one thing, I can do hands free hair rinsing if it's on a sliding bar and still take it off to clean the tub.

I'll look for the faster flowing faucets.

Any thoughts on how far from the tub rim the faucet should go? Any advantages or disadvantages to, say, having a 9" reach high arc faucet set back 1" from the tub rim (which is about 4";)?

You all have no idea how much easier you made my weekend! Thanks!

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 Re: Drilling faucet holes in an acrylic tub or deckmounting the faucet
Author: jblanche (WI)

Wall-mounted vacuum breaker is at the top center of first photo.

Leaving the hand shower in the "lowered" position ensures that water goes in the tub if the diverter is in the hand shower position when the water is turned on.
(This hand shower has a shut-off on the head which I would NOT recommend. Turning it off on the head causes the hot water to backflow into the cold supply and there is a scald hazard, despite having spring check valves on both supplies. Also the vacuum breaker is not designed for pressure applications. When this hand shower dies it will be replaced with a non-shut-off style if available):


Five things in deck. Diverter is in "Hand Shower" position.


Roman tub filler setback & overhang
Hand shower is in "raised" position (the base of the handle is set in the mounting flange as the mfgr. intended), so if the water is turned on now, it may spray onto the deck.


*******************************
Links to the State of Wisconsin Plumbing Code:
[docs.legis.wisconsin.gov]
*******************************
I am not a plumber.
*******************************



Edited 1 times.

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 Re: Drilling faucet holes in an acrylic tub or deckmounting the faucet
Author: akamon (GA)

bet that handheld sprayer drips water outside of tub when you turn it off. it's always best to mount roman tub faucets on solid surface as people have been known to lean on spout for support. that being said, there are installations where you just about have to mount on tub flange for various reason (like the above configuration); just make sure you reinforce acrylic with a 3/4" plywood backer plate under deck. sometimes you have to really whittle the plate down to get it to fit flat and just right. this will help prevent having to replace the whole tub cause someone cracks the deck by slightly leaning on spout.

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 Re: Drilling faucet holes in an acrylic tub or deckmounting the faucet
Author: jblanche (WI)

>bet that handheld sprayer drips water outside of tub when you turn it off.

It sure would if it were in the "up" position. However it is rarely in that position. I put it "up" for the photo, otherwise it is nearly always "down" on the tub rim.

>it's always best to mount roman tub faucets on solid surface as people have been known to lean on spout for support.

This deck has 3/8" plywood on top of the horizontal 2x3/2x4 supports. There is concrete board on top of the plywood, and the tile sits on that.


>there are installations where you just about have to mount on tub flange for various reason (like the above configuration);

I missed something. My installation is not on the tub flange. But I think I see what you're saying. This tub has 2x3 support under the flange all the way around except for (I think) two places: One, where the overflow is in the way, and Two, where the jet blower is in the way.

*******************************
Links to the State of Wisconsin Plumbing Code:
[docs.legis.wisconsin.gov]
*******************************
I am not a plumber.
*******************************

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