At first glance, tub spouts seem like the least of your worries when designing a new build or bathroom remodel. There are other things to think about that take up more real estate — the tile work, the flooring, the tub, and the vanity for instance. But the fixtures in a bathroom are what really pull the design together. The faucets, showerhead, and tub spout add the final touch that completes the room, and without them, a bathroom wouldn’t be a bathroom.
When people turn the handle to run a bath or start the shower, it’s easy to forget the delicate balance of hot and cold water, the piping, and the valves that make the water run. But behind the tile or shower wall there is an entire world working together in perfect harmony.
From the shower valve to the cartridge to the spout, there are lots of things that can go wrong and require repairs. Or it might just be time to update the look with a new tub spout. That’s when the inner workings take center stage.
Before we dive into the differences of a slip fit vs threaded tub spout, there are a few important terms to understand.
To fully understand a slip fit vs threaded tub spout, it’s important to be acquainted with the following terms.
Nipple: the threaded end of the copper pipe that extends from the wall and connects to the water source inside the wall.
National Pipe Taper (NTP): the American standard for pipe thread angle, shape, and pitch.
PTFE (polytetraflouroethylene): strong nonflammable synthetic resin with a tough waxy texture used as a joint sealant. Available as a paste or tape.
Thread Tape: PTFE tape that wraps around the nipple to fill any gaps between the threads for a leak-free seal.
Paste-Type Sealant: PTFE paste that is brushed on threads to fill any gaps and prevent leaks.
Bathtub and Shower Plumbing
Bathtub and shower plumbing needs to account for the showerhead, the handles (either one or two, though sometimes three), the drain, and the tub spout. If the fixtures are being installed in a new build, then the plumbing should reflect each element’s placement. If the fixtures are part of a remodel, then some of the plumbing may need to be relocated to accommodate the new placement.
The tub spout fits over a copper pipe that protrudes from the wall. This pipe should extend at least 1 inch and no more than 3 inches from the wall so the tub spout can fit over it. If the copper pipe needs to be replaced either because it is old and damaged or because it is the wrong length, a new length of pipe can be screwed into the fitting in the wall.
What Is a Slip-Fit Type Tub Spout?
When looking at a slip-on type vs threaded tub spout, a slip-on spout slides over a ½ inch copper pipe and is secured with a set screw near the wall. To secure the set screw, you’ll need a hex screw. The set screw is very small, so place something over the tub drain before you unscrew it, so it doesn’t fall into the drain. A flashlight also comes in handy, so you can see the setscrew better.
A slip-on tub spout is easy to install and because there are no threads, you won’t need thread tape or paste-type joint sealant. To ensure that there are no leaks, the copper pipe should fit easily into the tub spout and be free of rough edges or any corrosion.
What Is a Threaded Tub Spout?
A threaded tub spout vs a slip on tub spout is manufactured to screw onto a threaded nipple that is attached to the copper pipe that comes from the wall. To install a threaded spout, wrap thread tape or brush paste-type thread sealant around the nipple threads to prevent leaks and twist the spout until it is firmly in place.
If the copper pipe is too long, cut it down and replace the nipple. If it is too long, unscrew it from the fitting inside the wall and replace it with the correct length, making sure that the nipple is at the correct length so there isn’t a gap between the tub spout and the wall.
In a front-end thread tub spout, the threads are located towards the spout. This requires a longer length of pipe for installation.
A rear-end thread tub spout has threads located close to the wall and requires a much shorter length of pipe.
Universal Tub Spout
Universal tub spouts eliminate the decision of a tub spout slip-on vs threaded tub spout as they can be installed with a set screw on a copper pipe or screwed onto a threaded nipple.
Tub Spout Adaptor Kits
If the desired tub spout doesn’t fit the existing pipe, tub spout adapter kits are available to allow for installation. An adapter kit will make it possible for a front threaded, rear threaded, or slip-fit tub spout to work for most tubs.