Replacing an existing bathtub with a newer model is not always a simple chore. The original tub almost always needs to be cut into pieces to fit through the bathroom door. There may also be flooring, trim, surrounds, and plumbing that need to be removed and replaced. While a new tub can cost as little as $200, labor expenses for the replacement process can easily add $1,000 or more to the bill.
Instead, many homeowners have the existing tub reglazed, which typically costs $300-$1,000, depending on area and process. Whether your bathtub is dingy and stained, or even if it sports some serious rust and cracks, a trained professional can likely fix and re-coat the surface for a like-new look. Cast-iron, steel, and fiberglass tubs and shower stalls can all be re-coated to match the original finish or in an entirely new color.
The refinishing process involves three steps.
- First, the technician strips off the old finish and sands the tub to create a smooth surface.
- Next, any holes, cracks, chips, or rust spots are repaired.
- Finally, a primer, multiple layers of coating, and a sealant are applied. The bathtub can usually be used again in one to three days, and the finish should last 10-15 years.
There are do-it-yourself reglazing kits available for less than $50, but this work is best left to a trained contractor. These products don't use the same technology as the professionals, and the results are less durable and often look painted on rather than smooth.
To find a reputable contractor, ask friends for recommendations and check with the Better Business Bureau.
When Not to Reglaze
Refinishing is well-suited to very old tubs, which typically have more character and are made of higher-quality materials than what's available today. The process isn't always the best solution, of course. For example, for a newer, low-quality tub, you'll get better results by replacing it with a higher-quality model. Tubs that are in bad disrepair may not be candidates for reglazing. Also, homeowners who are remodeling and want a larger tub or one with more modern features, such as jets, will need to demolish and replace.