How To Remove An Old Sliding Shower Door

Don’t eat while you read this.

Seriously, don’t.

This is the story of removing the sliding shower doors in our master bathroom. It was one of those can’t-do-this-soon-enough tasks that was at the top of our list.

Not only did they enclose the tub in a way that a soft white fabric curtain wouldn’t, they had seen better days. So there were lines of rust around them…

… and pretty impressive amounts of caulk that seemed to be holding them together.

Plus their height was oddly low, so John hit his head (not once but twice) while climbing in. Fool him once, shame on the shower doors – fool him twice, shame on John. Here’s a good ol’ fashioned fully-clothed reenactment for you.

Apparently he likes those (exhibit A, exhibit B, exhibit C)

Anyway, the first scene to Get Those Dastardly Doors Down (the movie) involved swinging them out at the bottom so they could be lifted away from the track that held them in place at the top.

The top frame actually lifted right off after we did that, and then it came down to removing a few screws on each of the side frames to free them from the wall.

At least that’s what we thought. And then we remembered all that caulk. So we needed to score (and score and score) those wads of silicone to get those frames free.

When they came off it kind of looked like they were coated with icing. Except substantially less appetizing.

Here’s the gross part. WARNING. Stop eating. Or stop reading this entirely if you’re especially squeamish.

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Second warning. Seriously, stop it with the pop tart. Put it down.

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Last warning. There’s no button to un-see this.

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We then discovered this thick layer of scum that was living under the frame on the bottom of the tub, which wasn’t screwed in. So it just lifted off to reveal this tasty sight of 3D mildew and general nastiness. I used a flat razor to scrape the scum (check out my veiny hands – I think they bulge when I’m trying not to gag).

Then the tub looked like this, which is nice and open from afar.

Even the spots where the frame was screwed in were pretty small (so a dab of silicone caulk in each one sealed them off, and once we hung the shower curtain we knew they’d be obscured even more).

But if you got a little closer, the issue was the caulk around the tub.

Many areas were missing caulk completely, and some had pink-ish mildew or even old rotted brown spots (don’t even know what caused those) but one thing was clear: we needed to strip off the old caulk and re-caulk the entire perimeter of the tub and even down the sides and along the base at the floor. So we used a combination of a box cutter and this little plastic tool that we grabbed at Home Depot for a few bucks (it has a razor in the middle of the V to help slice while it pulls the caulk away from the wall).

That tool didn’t work along the bottom of the tub (couldn’t really grab the caulk there along the floor) so out came the box cutter again.

About an hour later (took a while, but it was pretty satisfying work) we had this caulk collection going on.

Then it was time to get some fresh stuff down. Be sure to use something silicone that’s meant for a tub/shower (we like the white colored stuff over clear caulk since it blends with the tub). Oh and we taped off the top edge so all we had to do was smooth it with our finger and then peel off the tape while it was still wet for a nice clean line against that dark tile.

Much better, eh?

Then after it all dried we hung our extra long shower curtain with a tension rod from Home Depot and it finally felt clean and airy. The to-the-ceiling-height always adds some nice “head-room” so it feels a lot less cramped to us (and it’s never dark in there since light passes through white fabric really easily).

Our 95″ waffle weave curtain originally came from amazon (but we hear target.com occasionally sells them too). We got it years ago at our first house and it has held up nicely since it’s 100% cotton and can be tossed in the wash (we have an extra long white fabric liner from Bed Bath & Beyond that hangs on the inside of the tub to block spray). As for why it came with us, shower curtains don’t stay like regular curtains when a house sells down here – probably because they can be pretty decor-specific and are universal in size – so they work in your next house in a way that certain height curtains or certain width blinds wouldn’t.

One thing’s for sure: a little caulk and a new curtain can definitely made a big difference.

As for the fate of this bathroom, there’s some tile damage around the toilet and sink as well as at the top corners of the shower and of course that wallpaper’s days are numbered, but we plan to live with the tile for a while and then eventually expand the bathroom’s footprint into the sink nook area so we have one big space instead of two smaller choppy ones (having one sink in the bathroom and one right outside of it instead of one big bathroom with a double sink just isn’t our preference). This post with a floor plan might help you visualize things.

So it should be fun to reconfigure this room down the line and retile/add a double sink/etc. But we like living with a space for a nice long time before doing dramatic reno (who knows, we might completely change our mind and go a different direction after thinking it through). In the meantime, I sort of love the blue hex tile, so we’re going steady for now. I’d insert some joke about how it sees me naked all the time, but my mom might text me about it (yes, she texts now, which is hilarious and awesome).

Comments

  1. Laurel says

    It’s SUCH a transformation just removing those doors. And I’m loving the extra long shower curtain!

  2. says

    Wow…that is quite an impressive (?) layer of scum you had to scrape off there! *heebie jeebies* I think that is my biggest quirk about moving into a house that’s new to us but previously owned…thinking of all of the “remnants” left over from the owner.

    But you made it look quite good until you can really dig in and do what you want to it!

  3. says

    For some reason, I didn’t think the mildew looked that bad, but I’m sure it’s because I wasn’t there in person.

  4. says

    Forgive the randomness of this, but the hex tile made me think of a recent thrift store find…

    Hex nesting boxes with insects on top. They’re waiting in a box for some fancy (or simple) makeover. Three bzzz’s to my hub for finding them for 50 cents!

  5. Christen says

    Yeesh… groddy! Looks so much fresher now, though!!

    Unrelated question… my husband and I are crib shopping, and I was wondering if you were still happy with the one you bought for Clara? Would you purchase it again now that you’ve lived with it for three years?

  6. says

    I’m seriously falling for vintage tile! I love the large-scale blue hex in your bathroom (although I can’t believe you’re not keeping that wallpaper! ;)

    And it’s just so strange to me that you leave the curtains behind! Down here the only thing you leave is the refrigerator!

    • Lindsay says

      So funny how what’s left behind varies so much. Here (Los Angeles), curtains always seems to stay (though I seldom want them!). And, interestingly, refrigerators NEVER stay – they almost never even stay in an *apartment*!

    • alisha says

      I kinda love that large scale blue hex tile, too! If it was in turquoise I would swoon.

      Just changing out the caulking and switching out the shower door for an extra long curtain made such a difference in this room! It seems to have gone from “Address this room immediately” to “can live with this for a while” in one project flat.

      AND it IS funny how things left behind vary by area: when we moved in we were left with NO curtains or fridge, but they left the shower curtain (clear with cornflower blue and dusty mauve seashell design….oh la la)

    • Taylor says

      Here in Australia you take everything except the stove/oven and the blinds. I can’t imagine leaving the fridge or curtains behind… It’s so weird how it’s different everywhere you go…

  7. says

    Love the white curtain! I will need that once we completely gut our bathroom. It’ll be gross, I’m sure. Our house is around 90 years old and some old plumbing is in our main floor bath. Scary! But we are taking everything down to the studs and buying brand new everything. AFTER two bedroom remodels and hopefully all before Halloween when my little man is expected to arrive.

  8. Beth says

    I feel kind of dumb, but I never realized you could remove sliding doors that easily! This has rocked my little (sheltered) world. Thank you! Watch out guest bathroom, I’m coming for ya!

    • Lisa E says

      That’s the first thing I’ve done in two homes, take the dreaded shower doors down. Hate them. Hard to keep those crevices clean not to mention, as we’ve seen here, what collects underneath as well!

  9. says

    Uh… I think I had a shirt with the same pattern as that wallpaper circa 1981. Yikes! Funny that removing the nasty shower doors was the first thing we did when we moved in. Our tub rim looked about the same. Fortunately our neighbors had a dumpster they let us use to dispose of them!

  10. Laura Y says

    I love when I get to work and there is a new YHL post to start my day! Makes Monday morning a little easier. Thanks!!

  11. Kelly says

    I absolutely HATE sliding shower doors. They are so unecessary and get disgusting. Thanks for this post! You made it look a little easy to remove them and have motivated me to tackle my mom’s bathroom (that I used for 10 years of my life, hence my personal hatred for them).

    • Kathryn says

      Word.

      The shower doors in our otherwise fantastic rental mean I’ve never once showered in the en-suite. Happy to truck it across the hall for some curtained ablutions!