Before you toss your old bathtub, it is a good idea to consider redecorating what you already have. Renovating bathtubs is often more cost-effective than replacing something new, saving you time and effort during a major bathroom remodeling project. Plus, it lets you keep older designs, like an antique clawfoot tub, to add character to a bathroom, but it’s outdated.
Bathtub refinishing is a lot of work, more than you might imagine. In fact, about 98% of bathtub refinishing is prep work done before the tub is painted. The other 2% use premium tub refinishing paint and professional tub refinishing techniques. If you think your bathtub needs refinishing, check out the guide below to learn everything you need to know about bathtub refinishing.
1. What is bathtub refinishing?
Bathtub refinishing, also known as tub trim or tub resurfacing, is the process of applying a coating to the surface of a bathtub to update its appearance. In most cases, your bathtub is refurbished. The most common types of bathtubs are cast iron, steel, fiberglass, and acrylic. It would be good practice to find out what type of bathtub you have and whether it has been previously remodeled before considering refinishing it, as in some cases, different refinishing methods may be required.
Renovating a bathtub involves a lot of work beyond simply cleaning and brushing the surface. An improperly refinished tub can end up costing you more than you just hired a professional rusty tub refinisher to do the job.
While there are a few DIY tub refinish kits on the market, none of them will do what you expect, and one of the biggest complaints is peeling tub bottoms. There are two factors in this; poor formulation and poor quality product. For a bathtub finish that looks good and lasts, you should use a high-quality tub polish and have it applied by a professional.
2. Average Cost of Bathtub Refinishing
Replacing an existing bathtub with a newer model is not always a simple matter. The original bathtub almost always needs to be cut into pieces to fit through the bathroom door. Flooring, trim, surrounds and plumbing may also need to be removed and replaced. While a new tub can cost as little as $150, the labor costs of the replacement process can easily add $1,500 or more to the bill.
Instead, many homeowners have their existing tubs reglazed or refinished, typically costing $300 to $600, depending on the area and workmanship. If your bathtub is dirty and dirty, or even if it has severe rust and cracks, a trained professional will likely be able to repair and repaint the surface to give it a new look.
3. Professional Bathtub Refinishing Process
Cast iron, steel, and fiberglass tubs and showers can all be repainted to match the original finish or in an entirely new color. The bathtub refinishing process consists of three steps:
- First, technicians strip the old finish and sand the tub to a smooth finish.
- Next, repair any holes, cracks, chips, or rust.
- Finally, a primer, multiple coats, and sealer are applied.
After the refinishing process, your bathtub can usually be used again within one to three days.
4. How long will a remodeled tub last?
It depends on several factors.
- Is the refinisher a qualified bathtub refinishing professional?
- Quality of bathtub refinishing products.
- Is the surface preparation correct?
- How is the surface maintained?
Let’s assume that if all of these factors are taken into account, your remodeled tub will last you 8-10 years. However, if any of these factors are compromised, your remodeled bathtub will not stand the test of time.
5. How to Refinish a Bathtub?
While this job is usually best left to a trained contractor, many home improvement stores offer DIY tub refinishing kits. It’s important to note that these products don’t use the same techniques as the pros, and the results are less durable and often look painted rather than smooth.
If you plan to refinish the tub yourself, make sure the area is well-ventilated before you begin. Open all bathroom doors and windows and turn on ventilation fans to help air out the room. With goggles and gloves on, follow these DIY tub refinishing steps:
- Repair any nicks or cracks with a heavy-duty patcher, it allows the product to fully cure before proceeding.
- Remove all metal drains, faucets, and hardware as needed.
- Clean the tub thoroughly with a solution of bleach and water or an abrasive cleaner to rinse your bathtub.
- Remove all caulk and dry the area.
- Sanding the tub roughens the surface, which helps the coating adhere. Rinse the tub to remove dirt.
- Dry the tub with a cloth. When the surface is completely dry, wipe the bathtub with a dry-tack cloth to remove any remaining dust.
- Lay down a rag and tape the area around the tub, as well as any remaining hardware.
- After ensuring good ventilation, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for painting. Use a high-quality short-bristled roller on main areas, and touch up corners or other hard-to-reach places with a small foam brush.
- Apply additional coats as needed, allowing adequate drying time between coats.
- After the coating dries, remove the tape, reattach the hardware, and caulk around the tub.
- Allow the coating to fully cure before using the tub.
After a DIY tub refinishes, it’s best to avoid using abrasive cleaners to protect the surface.
6. When Is Tub Refinishing Worth It?
Refinishing is great for very old bathtubs, which often have more character than current tubs and are made of higher-quality materials. Of course, this process is not always the best solution. For example, with a newer, low-quality bathtub, you can often get better results by replacing it with a higher-quality model. Tubs that are in disrepair may not be good candidates for reglazing either.
Also, if you are remodeling and want a larger tub or one with more modern features such as a spray head, you will need to remove and replace the tub rather than remodel it.
You should exercise caution when seeking the services of a bathtub refinishing specialist. Make sure they have the proper training in tub refinishing and are qualified to do the job. Make sure they use a tub refinishing product with a proven track record. Check references that are at least a few years old to see if those customers are still happy, and make sure the refinisher trains you in proper maintenance and gives you a written warranty. If you do, you’re sure to have a great tub refinishing experience.
However, chipped, scratched, rusted, or scuffed tubs can make your bathroom look dated and unattractive, if you still want to buy a new bathtub, you can read this article: What to Look to Buy a Bathtub? If you need help, you can feel free to contact Nicemoco, our expert will give you our best advice.