Building a Custom Wood Bathtub

A great way to dress up your bathroom is to customize your exiting tub, making it look like a custom wood bathtub. Basic carpentry skills and a few tools will accomplish this upgrade in a weekend. Choose any water resistant wood you like: maple however, is an economical choice. You could have stain custom blended to match or contrast perfectly with existing cabinetry. For about $250.00, your bathroom can look like a million bucks!

Tools and Materials

  • Tape Measure
  • 1 by 2 inch maple
  • 3/4 inch maple plywood
  • Table saw
  • Kreg screw jig
  • Screws
  • Drill
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Palm sander and 120-grit and 220-grit sandpaper
  • Waterproof wood glue (Gorilla Glue)
  • Stain
  • Polyurethane
  • Clean rags and foam paint brush
  • Natural bristle brush


Step 1 - Cut Wood

Measure the outside of the bathtub (height x width). Cut 2 pieces of lumber (1 by 2 inches) to the measured length to form the top and bottom rails. To determine the height of the pieces that form the framed sections, subtract the width of both rails from the measured height of the tub. Cut 4 pieces (1 by 2 inches) at this measured length for risers for your custom wood tub.

Step 2 - Attach Risers

With the Kreg jig, drill 2 holes at each end of all 4 risers (8 holes total). Attach 1 riser to each end of the top rail with glue and screws. Attach the bottom riser of the custom wood tub in the same manner, making certain that the resulting ‘box’ is true square (either measure both diagonals, or use a builder’s square at all 4 corners). Make adjustments if necessary. Measure the total distance between the 2 end rails. Place the remaining rails to complete 3 framed openings (divide the measured length by 3 to get placement of rails). Attach center rails in same manner as edge rails.

Step 3 - Back Board

Measure 3 openings. Add 1 inch all around for attachment to the rails and risers. Alternatively, on back of the frame, mark the center of every riser and each rail in 2 places for each piece. With a straight edge, draw the lines on each piece as designated by the marks. Measure true size of plywood needed. Cut the plywood as measured for the custom wood tub. Apply glue to the frame back and apply 3 pieces of plywood (be careful not to use too much glue to avoid a mess). Staple the plywood to the frame (be careful that staples are not too long or they will come through front of frame).

Step 4 - Finish

With a palm sander and 120-grit sandpaper, sand entire framed panel. Wipe dust off all surfaces with tack cloth. Apply stain with foam brush or clean rag. Wipe off excess after 5 minutes. Allow to dry. Continue applying stain to the custom wood tub in this manner until desired color is reached. Allow final coat of stain to dry thoroughly at least 24 hours. Apply polyurethane with natural bristle brush. Allow to dry at least 24 hours, lightly sand entire surface with 220-grit sandpaper between coats. Wipe with tack cloth. Apply at least 3 coats of polyurethane over entire surface.

Step 5 - Attach to Bathtub

With construction adhesive, attach the custom wood panels to the face of the bathtub. If more than the front of the tub is exposed, make additional frames, sized as necessary.