Why Might Bathtubs Make Creaking And Cracking Sounds? (3 Possible Causes)

Manufactured home bathtubs, especially the acrylic type, can be prone to squeaking every time the user climbs inside or gets out.

At times, it can be as bad as having to contend with these noises as you soak and turn in the tub.

While it may be obvious at times that these noises originate from any two moving points rubbing against each other somewhere beneath the fixture, knowing where exactly and how to correct the problem can be extremely hard.

But, Why Might Bathtubs Make Squeaking And Cracking Sounds?

Nine out of ten times it has something to do with the floor or subfloor especially if the tub is located on the second floor. Or maybe the tub wasn’t installed properly on that floor, whether ground floor or second floor. A cracked tub too can be squeaky at times. There are numerous causes of squeaky tubs, but let’s look at each of the major causes a bit deeper, starting with the floor:

Cause #1: Problem with The Floor

The number one cause of noises from beneath the tub are problems associated with the floor and subfloor structure or the point where the floor meets the tub.

If you listen closely and realize that the noise is emanating from beneath the tub rather than the sides or general structure of the tub, there is a strong likelihood your floor area at the base of the tub is flawed.

Creaking sounds originating from the base are normally a result of improper installation (such as insufficient nails, inadequate adhesive, or no room to support of the rest of the floor expansion), or, at times, water leaking on your flooring and causing the joints to expand.

Here is what to look for as far as floor-based squeaking is concerned:

Subfloor Flexing

A noisy tub could be due shiplap or plywood subfloor flexing on screws or nails.

When you climb in the tub, the floor begins to flex causing the wood to rub against the nails and screws, thus the squeaking and creaking sound.

Correcting this cause can be difficult because it often requires you to dismantle the tub and the floor and add a few screws or apply more glue between the problematic plywood.

Gaps Between the Tub and the Floor

At times, the noise may be caused by friction between the base of the tub and the floor. Normally, a tiny gap is left between the tub and the tiles on the floor.

This space is normally filled with silicone or similar material to prevent the fixture from coming into direct contact with the tiles.

However, the silicone padding may not be sufficient at times due to improper installation, and this could result in squeaking noises whenever you climb or get out of the bathtub.

Heat Expansion

Dark-colored tiles tend to absorb more heat better compared to light-colored tiles.

If you choose dark-colored tiles for your bathroom’s floor, be sure to ask for thin sets with little flexibility for interior heat expansion. You may have already noticed that your tub squeaks become apparent and reduces with changes in humidity.

Damages to the Subfloor

Reevaluate the quality of the bathroom’s initial or renovated subfloor.

At times, an old bathtub may be uninstalled to create space for a new tub. When you move or alter plumbing lines, the subfloor is more likely to require repairs that might affect it negatively or positively.

One of the negatives can be the creation of friction points that might start rubbing against each other to produce the squeaks whenever the tub moves.

Ensure that your subfloor is properly inspected for squeaks and friction points.

Also, be sure to check whether the area close to and around the drain pipes is well supported before the installation process.

Cause #2: It Is an Acrylic Tub, Right?

Another reason why your tub keeps producing some noise could be because it is coated with acrylic finish. It is almost natural for an acrylic tube to creak and complain whenever there are movements on or around it.

Homeowners in some forums tell how they were advised not to buy an acrylic tub for this reason.

Acrylic is a glassy transparent thermoplastic homopolymer that is often marketed as “Plexiglass.” It is mainly made from polycarbonate, a material that gives it the toughness of stone and the looks of a glass.

If you combine this attribute with the fact that acrylic is impressively durable, lightweight, and versatile, you end up with just the right material for coating any type of bathtub.

The glassy texture of acrylic, however, turns out to be its biggest flaw as far as the peace of your bathroom is concerned.

As it’s usual with anything glass-like, acrylic will produce that annoying creaking noise whenever it is pressed against a surface and made to move against it.

If your acrylic tub is made to rub against the floor just slightly, there is a strong likelihood you will hear some noise. That’s how acrylic bathtubs came to be known for noise making.

The best thing about acrylic-induced noises is that they are easy to correct compared to, say, if the noise was emanating from inside the floor.

A Tub Rubbing Against the Floor – Consider Shimming the Tiny Gaps

Acrylic tubs are notorious for squeaking against bare surfaces even with the slightest friction.

It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the floor or the base of the tube.

  • To prevent this type of noise, consider, examine the area around where the tub meets the floor and identify the gaps.
  • Depending on the size of the gap, find a few shims of the right size, whether made from wood or stone and fill the gaps.
  • Remember, this is only effective for freestanding acrylic tubs that are not firmly attached to the floor.
  • For fixed varieties, the problem may be hard to correct because you will be compelled to completely dismantle the whole fixture.

Problems with Tub Surround – Correct the Tub Surround

Acrylic tubs often come with a surround padding for protecting the surrounding walls from moisture.

During installation, these surround structures usually snap into position in a slim track along the top margin of the tub.

However, sometimes errors occur during the installation, resulting in improper installation of the surround. Consequently, the tub will be prone to squeaking as it rubs against the walls and the base.

The best correction approach is to reinstall the surrounding structure – get it right this time.

Tub and Subfloor Problems – Check the Rubber/Foam Shielding on The Base

Acrylic tubs are normally installed to stand on a layer of foam or rubber between the fixture and the bathroom’s floor.

This layer may be inadequate or worn out after years of service. Noises will begin immediately if the acrylic tub gets into contact with the solid parts of the floor.

The process of correcting this problem too can be complicated as complete removal of the tub will be necessary. Once you have removed the tub, add a fresh layer of rubber or foam, and replace the tub.

Cause #3: A Cracked Tub

If your bathroom floor is just fine, the surface of the acrylic tub is OK, and every complementary installation is how it’s supposed to be, but you still hear those sounds, there is a likelihood your tub is cracked somewhere.

Some localized chipping on the enamel may cause the fragment to break off from the tub without falling over.

See Also: What Does It Mean When Your Bathtub Water Is Brown? 

Because the tub is often fixed on the floor and the walls tight enough to keep some broken pieces in position even after they have broken, you may hear creaking and cracking sounds every time you get inside or out of the tub.

If you have discovered a crack in your tub, you should investigate the extent of the flaw and have it corrected by a qualified professional.

Besides the unbearable noises, leakage may ensue and cause serious damages to your home. A simple crack can be easy to fix, find a handy person to assist you in filling the crack.

Alternatively, you can choose to remodel your entire bathroom complete with a new bathtub. Still, you will need the services of a licensed contractor to do the job.

In A Nutshell

A squeaking bathtub can be a result of one of the three major causative factors.

  1. Problems in the structure of the floor or the flooring around the bathtub are the number one cause of tub noises.
  2. If your tub has acrylic parts, the material could be the culprit. Acrylic’s glassy texture combined with the weight of the tub almost always produce noises even with the slightest friction between the tub and any other surface.
  3. At times, tubs squeak because of undiscovered cracks in the enamel or general body.

These problems can be easy or hard to fix depending on the location. Some of them may compel you to replace the tub and even embark on a full bathroom remodeling.

Regardless of the extent of the correction efforts, consider hiring a qualified contractor to fix the problem for once and for all.

You can be proactive by aiming for the best and high-quality tub in the first place. It can be a cast iron-made option or a heavy-duty Americast or Kohler product designed to sit in a thick bed of mortar.