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Three Things to Consider Before Refinishing Your Bathtub

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There comes a time that all good things must come to an end. While this is true in any life application, today we’re talking about when your tub reaches the end of its functioning life. When your bathtub is rusted, busted or just wore out, you must decide whether you want to pursue a tub repair or a replacement. Sometimes (but not always), tub repair is cheaper than a new bathtub installation. Sometimes (but not always), installing a new bathtub is less expensive than tub repair. Sometimes (but not always), tub repair saves you the huge nightmare of demo when the old tub (and new tub) are larger than the doors you need to get it through. If this sounds confusing, you’re on the right track.

When it comes time to decide between a tub repair or replacement, you should take the following questions into account:

  1. When is it advantageous to refinish an old bathtub?
    In many cases, the level of effort and cost associated with refinishing an old bathtub will be equal to or greater than the cost of just putting a new one in. However, a few occasions when you’re better off refinishing your current tub include:

    • When your current bathtub has antique or historical value. If your current bathtub is an old fashioned steel claw-foot tub, you should absolutely opt to refinish it instead of replacing it with a standard tub liner (and if you choose to chuck that tub, call us day or night. If your tub was the very tub that President Howard Tuft got stuck in, do not, we repeat, DO NOT replace it.
    • When your bath tub is very high quality. If you have a standard fiberglass model, you’ll most certainly be better off replacing it. But if your bath tub is exceptional quality, you should really weigh out the cost of buying one of the same caliber.
    • If you’ll have to take out walls to bring a new one in. Your bathtub can be cut into pieces to remove, but you wouldn’t want to dismantle your brand new tub.
  2. What costs are involved in replacing my bathtub?
    Replacing a bathtub is not a straight across “plug and play” home update. Depending on the age and condition of your bathroom, you’ll need to take the following costs into account:

    • The cost of a plumber. If your current tub has a different plumbing setup than your new one, if it was installed improperly, or has damaged pipes, you’ll need to bring in a plumbing pro to fix it up before you put your new bath tub in. (Keep in mind that if you have a leak, you will need to do this when you refinish your current tub also).
    • The cost of tile repair. In most cases, the dismantling of your old bathroom will destroy the tile that is around it. If you have a tile bathroom, you’ll need to plan for tile installation after replacing the bath tub. This is a cost that you can avoid when you refinish instead.
    • Restoration costs after demo to fit the bathtub in. If you have a considerably large bathtub or narrow doorways, you may find yourself needing to widen doorways to get the bath tub through. An alternative this this is to replace your bath tub with a tiled-in shower instead.

  3. How much does it cost to refinish a bathtub?
    Refinishing a bath tub typically costs in the neighborhood of $500. If only minor work is needed, you might get away with a bill of about $350 or so. Keep in mind that a standard brand new bathtub costs about $300, so (barring the additional costs we outlined previously), replacing your bathtub is often a more economical option.

    We know what you’re thinking. Your big box hardware store sells a kit to refurbish your own bathtub for a piddly amount of money. Help us help you: Do not — we repeat — DO NOT use those a DIY kit for this. These kits are not easy for a novice to use, and will leave your tub in need of more repair in the long run. If you decide to refurbish your bath tub, you need to use a professional to do it.

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