Cracked tile

Let’s talk about bathtub refinishing. Is it worth it to refinish your bathtub? Why refinish when you can replace? Having a great bathtub to soak in on after a hard day of work is wonderful. Over time, the enamel wears off, it gets gross looking, and sometimes it even develops rust, holes, and cracks. Sometimes the imperfections in your bathtub are more than just flaws; they lead to leaks that cause the underlying structure to rot or grow mold. In the bathtub biz, we call this, “no bueno!”

Eventually, when your tub reaches this level of disrepair, you are faced with the choice of bathtub repair or having a brand new bathtub installed. If you are weighing out the pros and cons of bathtub refinishing, you came to the right place. Below, we’ve put together a quick overview for you.

What exactly does bathtub refinishing involve?

Bathtub refinishing requires three steps:

  1. First, the old finish is stripped off of the tub, and the tub is sanded down to its bare skeleton. This sanding process creates a smooth surface for the bathtub refinishers to work with.
  2. Now, all of the imperfections in the bathtub are repaired. Amazingly, you can refinish a bathtub that has holes, rust, and cracks in it. This step is where the skeleton of the bathtub is made into a new creature.
  3. Finally, your new old tub gets a shiny coat of primer, and then several layers of enamel sealing. After giving it about 72 hours to cure, your bathtub is as good as new.

Why refinish a tub when you can replace it?

While a low-end brand-new bathtub may only cost a few hundred dollars, and the bathtub installation costs can add a lot more to your bill. Most of the time, the original bathtub is too large to fit through the bathroom door; this means that it will have to be cut into sections to remove from your house. Meanwhile, during the process of pulling out your bathtub, you’ll most likely the damage the floor, the trim, and the tile surrounding the bathtub, which will then need to be repaired. For a relatively inexpensive fixture, the cost of the bathtub insulation can easily add up to more than $1000. If your existing bathtub is still sturdy, it might be far less expensive to give it a face lift than tearing it out altogether.

When is it better to replace your tub instead of attempting a refinish?
Older bathtubs were made of metal and stood the test of time, now newer bathtubs are often made of fiberglass and don’t leave much for refinishing. Refinishing is your best bet when you have an old cast-iron tub, or a high-quality bathtub that will cost a lot to replace with another of the same quality.

On the other hand, if you have a newer bathtub, or one that is made with cheap material to start with, it might be worth the money to pull it out and put a better quality bathtub in altogether.

Additionally, if your bathtub is in such bad shape that it would take Harry Potter’s magic wand to fully repair it, maybe it’s better to just spring for a new one. Obviously, if you want to change the size or structure of your bathtub, buying a new one is your only option.

Can you DIY a bathtub refinishing?

If you love do-it-yourself projects, you have probably already noticed the bathtub refinishing kits at your local hardware store for less than $50.

However, help us help you. Stay away from these bad boys. Unless you actually are a professional bathtub refinishing service (in which case, we already know you are not even thinking of using one of those kits), you can easily screw your bathtub up with the harsh and permanent chemicals that come in them. This just adds to the bill you’ll be paying when you bring the professional to refinish your tub, as you should have to begin with.

To make a long story short…

If you’re keeping score, you might have picked up on our mixed message. When your bathtub is cheap and worn out, replace her. When you have a good quality tub that just needs a face lift, tub refinishing is the way to go!

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