Options for Refinishing Your Bathtub

    Photo of a white claw-foot bathtub by Jawcam/istockphoto.com. Is your bathtub looking tired and worn? If it's made of porcelain, cast iron, or fiberglass, you might have the option to refinish rather than replace it. The cost-effectiveness of refinishing versus replacement depends on the price of purchasing and installing the new bathtub, as well as removal and dumping of the old tub. This is especially true for vintage fixtures, like claw-foot bathtubs. For example, the former Fine Finish Shop, an expert painting company near Boston, charged $349 for refinishing a standard bathtub, whereas period-style claw-foot tubs were listed in the high $900s to the thousands.

    The process of refinishing a bathtub is a lot like auto-body work. Uneven or damaged surfaces are etched, then primed, then spray painted with a special enamel. Sometimes the entire tub needs to be refinished, and sometimes just a portion -- which obviously costs less. In some cases, the bathtub refinishing professional only needs to clean the tub thoroughly in order to restore it to its former glory.

    Professional refinishing: The best option for refinishing your bathtub is to hire a professional to refinish it. As I said, refinishing a tub is a lot like auto-body work. The margin for error is high, and the chemicals used in the process must be properly contained and ventilated. Refinishing your bathtub is not an unskilled, easy DIY job. Considering that it really doesn't cost that much (compared to replacing the bathtub), hiring an experienced refinishing company which specializes in this work is likely to cost you less in time and money in the long run than doing it yourself.

    DIY Tub and Tile Refinishing: If you must -- and I don't recommend it -- DIY tub and tile refinishing kits exist, and may be found at your local home improvement store. Let the buyer beware; though these kits can offer quick aesthetic improvements, in the long run their users have some pretty serious complaints, including peeling and wearing off of the finish.

    Let's wrap this up: The bottom line with bathtub refinishing is it is generally more cost efficient to have a contractor refinish your bath tub than to replace the tub or to do it yourself.

    Chaya Kurtz writes for Networx.com.

    Updated September 3, 2018.

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