A few years ago, I moved into an older home, and for the first time since I was a child I was faced with the reality of having a bathroom with a pink tub, and another bathroom with a yellow tub. It didn’t take long for me to start strongly considering a bathroom update, and one of the first questions I asked myself was “Is Bathtub Refinishing Worth it?”
Bathtub Refinishing can be worth it if you are looking to change the color of a bathtub or improve the overall look of your bathtub without replacing it or having to do a complete remodel. However, the current overall condition of the bathroom, as well as your long term plans for the space, will also factor into whether refinishing the tub is the best option. Keep reading as we discuss these factors in more detail as well as some additional considerations to keep in mind as you plan your bathroom updates.
What is bathtub refinishing?
Professional tub refinishing typically involves, patching or repairing blemishes and imperfections, then using a chemical to etch the tub surfaces in order to it more porous and therefore easier for the topcoat to stick. Lastly, the topcoat is applied. DIY kits may not chemical etching.
Does bathtub refinishing work?
Yes, the refinishing process does work. By work, I mean that it can drastically improve the look of your current tub, and it can be a cost-effective alternative to tub replacement. But it’s important to understand that it is not as durable as the original tub finish.
Advantages of Refinishing A Tub
The main advantages to tub refinishing are:
- You save on time and money because you don’t have to remove or replace the tub, so you dont have to pay for plumbing, demolition, disposal and cleanup
- You can change the color of the tub and cover any staining or other imperfections
- The process typically takes 1 -2 days. The tub will be ready to use shortly thereafter.
- There are also DIY tub refinishing kits.
- In some markets, and depending on the tub, the cost to refinish may be similar to the cost to replace tub
- The tub refinishing process frequently calls for the use of some pretty nasty chemicals and extreme caution should be taken.
- Tub refinishing does not last as long not is it as durable as a factory finish.
How many times can I refinish a tub?
After doing some research online, the general consensus amongst remodeling professionals is twice at the most.
How much does tub refinishing cost?
On average it cost between $400 and $1000 to refinish a standard bathtub. This does not include refinishing tubs surrounds.
What type of tubs can be refinished?
Most types of tubs can be refinished, including cast iron, acrylic, and fiberglass. However, because cast iron tubs are likely the best candidates for refinishing because they are the most difficult to remove due to their weight, the most expensive, and have the best insulation properties,
When to Reglaze a Tub?
Refinishing or reglazing a bathtub is not the best option for every bathroom. In order to get the most out of restoring your bathtub, you should first determine that you like the tub enough to keep it and make an additional investment into it. Second, if the tub is not freestanding, the condition of the tub shower walls as well as the floor are important factors to consider. The shower surround needs to be in good shape. This is true regardless of whether your surround is fiberglass, acrylic or tile. If your property was built before the ’80s and has never been remodeled, then chances are you have 4×4 tiles on the wall. You want to make sure that water and moisture have not gotten behind the tiles and compromised the wall. Major cracking and loose tiles and sometimes be indicators of this type of damage.
You want to make sure that the walls are stable. If you have only a couple of tiles that are loose, and the area can be fixed, its best to make these repairs prior to reglazing the tub.
The condition of the floor is also of concern. You want to make sure that the floor system is structurally sound. No loose, or broken floor joist, and no rotten or severely water damaged framing members. You want to confirm that the floor system is stable and that the tub will not move. If you do notice any damaged framing or outstanding repairs, its best to address those issues before you refinish the tub.
Can the tile walls be refinished?
Yes, the tub surround walls can be refinished using the same process that will be used for the tub. Tub walls can be refinished regardless of whether they are tile, fiberglass, or acrylic. As mentioned above, be sure to make any repairs prior to refinishing the tub or walls.
Will Refinishing the Bathtub Increase the Value of My Property?
Whether refinishing a bathtub will increase the value of your property depends on many variables such as your local real estate market as well as the overall condition of the bathroom prior to any updates. Consult with a local real estate agent for specific insight on values in your real estate market into Regardless of whether refinishing the tub directly increases the value of your property, it can certainly increase the overall appeal of your bathroom, which could make your property more desirable than it was when the bathroom had a tub that was dingy and or a dated color.
If you are contemplating property value, you should also factor in how long you plan to stay in the home. If you know that you are only going to be there for a couple of years, it may not make sense financially to do a large bathroom renovation project, and refinishing the tub may be a good option. However, this will in part still depend on the condition of the existing bathroom, if the whole bathroom is literally falling apart, and you are hoping to get top dollar when you sell, then refinishing the tub may only be the tip of the iceberg.
Can I change the tub color?
Yes, you can definitely change the color of the tub during the refinishing process. Many of the professional tub refinishing companies offer many different colors and can even color match. However, the DIY tub refinishing kits come in select colors and typically cannot be tinted or altered.
How Long Does Bathtub Refinishing Last?
The length of time a refinished bathtub will last depends on many variables including, how it’s applied, as well as, the frequency of use. Generally speaking, you should expect a professionally refinished tub to hold up better than a Tub refinishing kit from the store. However, neither will hold up or be as durable as the original finish. In searching around online, the tub refinishing companies boast that the finish can last just as long as the original tub finish. But the best indicator is the warranty. And after some searching around on the net, the most common warranty period (for those that offer a warranty) is 5 years. So to me, that’s a pretty good indicator of what you should expect.
There are other factors that can affect how long the finish will last, such as the types of chemicals you use to clean the tub, the frequency of cleaning, as well as how careful you are when using the tub. Dropping things or sliding things around in the tub can damage the finish.
Pros vs DIY?
The professional bathtub refinishing is a similar process to the DIY kits, but the pros likely have access to higher quality materials, and application tools. DiY kits are going to typically be applied with a roller and a brush< while professional applications will usually be sprayed on. The professional application method makes it easier to achieve a high quality finish with fewer imperfections.
Additionally, if you are not handy, and have not worked with chemicals before, you may want to sit this project out, and just higher a professional.
Is it Safe?
In the very recent past, the chemicals used to remove tub finishes have been quite dangerous, particularly when used by poorly informed consumers. The process of stripping the existing tub finish has historically called for the use of an extremely hazardous chemical called methyl chloride. In March of 2019, the EPA banned the manufacture and distribution of the chemical for consumer use. This rule goes into complete effect on November 22, 2019.
Even Though this chemical can no longer be used by consumers, it seems that it will still be available for use by professionals. Professional tub refinishing companies will have to determine if they will continue to use this product, or begin using a less dangerous alternative.
Regardless of whether you refinish your bathtub yourself, or you hire a professional, you need to educate yourself about what chemicals will be used to perform the process as well as the proper safety precautions.
Are there Alternatives to bathtub refinishing?
Yes, replacing the tub is an obvious alternative. But a less invasive option is a tub liner, which fits over your existing tub. This process involves a professional site visit for measurements and inspection. Once ordered, the tub liner could take as much as 4-6 weeks for it to be manufactured before it can be installed by a professional technician. The cost of the tub liner is substantially higher than tub refinishing and takes longer to complete.