Saturday, December 14, 2019
Bathtub Replacement
Plumbing

Bathtub Replacement or Refinishing – What’s Better?

The bathtub in our master bathroom had seen its day. I knew it was time for a replacement, but I was overwhelmed by the amount of work it would take. Undoubtedly, I would have to hire professionals to come in and do some of the work. I’m a painter by trade, not a plumber. While I’ve learned a lot through my journey, I wasn’t willing to touch the plumbing.

So I started doing my research. What would be better for me financially as well as aesthetically? I looked at the pros and cons of both options. Here’s what I came up with.

Bathtub Replacement

Bathtub replacement sounds nice, but it just wasn’t for me. Here’s what it would have required:

  • Removal and disposal of my existing bathtub – I’m not superman, so there was no way I could remove and move the existing bathtub on my own. I didn’t feel right asking friends to help me with such a big job. So I would have had to hire out for this part, not to mention the actual disposal of the tub. Where would I get rid of it?
  • Handling the plumbing – This was the hardest part. The plumbing. If I was lucky, I may find a tub that fits the exact plumbing fixtures, but what are the odds of that happening? Slim to none – I know. I knew I’d have to hire a plumber to move the fixtures and piping to fit the new tub. Was it worth it?
  • The tile needs fixing – This part I could do. I’ve handled tile before, but it would take some time. It’s impossible to remove a tub, put a new tub in, and not ruin the tile. It wouldn’t have ruined all of it, but enough that it would have added time and labor to the job.

As I thought about these options, I figured I would look into refinishing my existing bathtub to see what the benefits of it were. Here’s what I learned:

  • You can refinish most tubs – I figured my tub was way beyond being able to be refinished. It was dingy, rusted, and scratched. But it turns out refinishing a tub, as long as the basic structure is okay, really does a nice job. Of course, I had to fix the cracks and rust first, which required quite a bit of elbow grease for my contractor, but it turned out just fine.
  • Refinishing adds years to your tub’s life – I didn’t realize that refinishing my tub could add as much as 20 years to my tub’s life and for a fraction of the cost of replacing it. Of course, if you have professionals do it, you’ll pay a little more, but honestly, I priced it out and it wasn’t bad.

How I Refinished My Tub

Look, some people take this project on themselves, but I don’t recommend it because hardware store products aren’t as high quality as the commercial products professionals use and the end result turns out much better with industrial-grade equipment. So, in the end, I hired a bathtub refinishing company in Elmhurst to do this for me. Here’s what they did to refinish the tub:

  • Stripped off the old finish. They wear gloves and a mask when they do this because it gets dirty. They also protected the surrounding floors and fixtures in my bathroom to avoid too getting everything else messy.
  • Sanded the tub down. This helps the new glaze really adhere to the tub. They don’t skip this step or the refinishing efforts may be in vain.
  • They repaired any holes or cracks. Another big reason I called in a professional to do this. It’s important that the holes and cracks are properly fixed if you want to add years to your tub’s life.
  • They primed. Primer, my friend is back. Prime the tub well. This is just another step in helping the glaze stick to the tub. Again, how long do you want the tub to last?
  • Coating the tub looked fun because I’m a painter, but I had to resist the urge to jump in and just let the pros do their thing. Trust me when I say you’ll need many coats. Three or four at least, but you may even want more. Your refinisher will know the proper applications needed.
  • If this project had been up to me alone, I’d have forgotten the sealant. Luckily, my contractor didn’t. That’s really what makes the tub last the longest.

Why Shouldn’t You Refinish Your Tub?

I’m thrilled that I chose to refinish my tub and had great results, but you may not want to if you have a newer/cheaper tub. Refinishing may not make it look any better than before. Sure, on the surface it will look great, but if the tub’s structure is cheaply made, you aren’t going to get much life out of it.

I personally think you should save bathtub refinishing for very old or quite sturdy tubs. Antique tubs that you don’t want to replace are the prime example of a good tub to refinish. But, even a tub like I have – it’s not antique, but man it’s solid. I knew the tubs on the market today would not come close to the quality I have in this tub, which is why I refinished it rather than replaced it. Of course, the money and work I saved in the process helped too, but if I had a cheaply made tub, I would have sucked it up and replaced it.

I hope this helps you figure out what is best for your tub. Every homeowner will have a different opinion. I hope that my experience helps you decide what is right or wrong for your tub. When in doubt, of course, always call a professional. I have taken up great interest in DIY projects because my kids are grown and gone and I need something to fill my time. I’m handy as I’m a painter by trade, so DIY projects just seemed like a natural progression for me. I hope you have fun finishing or replacing your tub and that you love the results as much as I love mine!

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