Bathtub Liners vs Refinishing: Which Is For You?

There are a couple of different ways that you can go about renewing the look of your bathtub. You can either get a bathtub liner or have your tub refinished. Both of these methods will give your tub a new look, but there are some differences between them that you should be aware of before making a decision.

Bathtub liners are made from molded acrylic and fit over your existing tub. They’re usually less expensive than having your tub refinished, and they can be installed in as little as a day. However, bathtub liners may not last as long as a refinishing job, and they may not be able to match the exact color and pattern of your existing tub.

Refinishing your tub, on the other hand, involves stripping off the old finish and applying a new one. This process can take a few days to complete, but it will usually last longer than bathtub liners. Plus, refinishing gives you the opportunity to change the color or pattern of your tub if you want to.

So, which option is right for you? That depends on your budget and preferences. If you’re looking for a quick and easy solution, then bathtub liners may be the way to go. However, if you want something that will last longer and give you more flexibility in terms of design, then refinishing may be the better choice.

Bathtub Liners vs Refinishing: Which Is For You?

A refinished tub is much more vulnerable to damage than a tub lined with a liner. In fact, the manufacturers of Re-Bath demonstrate the durability of their products by bashing them with a hammer in their San Jose, California, showroom. The cost of liners, however, is much higher — from $800 to $1,000, depending on the material. In addition, acrylic wall liners will be sold to you to line the tub.

Color Options

There are 20 different colors available, as well as marbleized varieties, and they start at $150 for an 8-foot model. On the other hand, refinishing a tub costs between $200 and $450. The majority of customers choose white, but refinishing is available in nearly any color that paint is, instead of the few colors that most liners offer (white, almond, biscuit, gray, and black).

Compare Cost and Quality

A Lubbock, Texas, refinishing company, The Reglazing Company, charges $195, while Surface Doctor, with 120 franchisees nationwide, charges an average of $345. According to Surface Doctor president Chuck Pistor, “We’re never the cheapest in town, but people hear stories that they’re peeling or that it won’t last.” Fly-by-night refinishers have tarnished the industry’s reputation, Pistor acknowledges. There are differences among refinishers, and if the right materials and techniques are used, it’s an excellent product.

In addition to their advantages, liners also have their disadvantages, particularly in terms of aesthetics. It’s hard to replicate the character and definition in the skirt of an older tub with liners, but some people prefer its clean, simple lines. Liner material is also plastic, which makes them look plastic. The liner can become squishy and smelly if there is a leak around it, and water can get under it. Both products come with varying warranties.

Check Your Warranty Terms

Other dealers offer warranties ranging from 3- to 10-years to lifetime from Grampp Tub Refinishing. Despite Surface Doctor’s 5-year warranty, Pistor anticipates it will last more than 15 years as long as you take care of it. Also, read the warranty on your contract carefully so you know what they are covering and what you’re paying for.

A majority of liner companies do not line jetted tubs, or claw-foot bathtubs. Both industries shy away from fiberglass tubs. Be prepared to pay more if your tub needs repairs if it is chipped, dented, or even rusted through.

Bathtub Refinishing

Generally, refinishing worn-out bathtubs involves using hazardous chemicals that are so dangerous that technicians are required to wear respirators as well as special protective suits.

Mike Grampp, who operates a thriving bathtub refinishing business in Richmond, Kentucky, explains how refinishers use a residential bathroom as a spray booth.

How to Refinish a Bathtub ?

  1. During a reglazing project, the first step is to mask the surfaces around the tub so that the overspray won’t get onto them. In addition, it is important addition, it is important to thoroughly ventilate the bathroom so that the toxic fumes can be extracted.
  2. Refinishers use hydrofluoric acid to swathe the tub after removing the caulk, a highly toxic chemical that dissolves what’s left of the porcelain glaze while also etches the surface to adhere the new finish.
  3. A fan is used to dry the tub after the refinisher removes the hydrofluoric acid and installs new caulk.
  4. In order to promote adhesion of the finish coats, he applies two coats of a fast-drying epoxy.
  5. Following the cleaning, he sprays four applications of polyurethane finish coat followed by sanding between each application. He finishes the tub by wiping it down with a tack cloth to remove any dust particles or insects.
  6. The tub is then polished by the refinisher.

Before turning on the water, the tub must cure for 24 hours, depending on how extensive the repair is. A single technician takes about four to six hours to complete the entire process.

Bathtub Insert Installation Steps

    1. Measurements and photographs are sent from a local installer to company headquarters.
    2. As soon as the company has identified the model, it pulls it off the shelf and covers it in 1/4-inch of 1/4-inch plywood. An exact mold of the tub is vacuum-formed from ABS acrylic, which is used in football helmets and airplane windshields. It weighs 35 pounds. Like a new glove, the liner fits over the tired tub.
    3. A local representative installs it by cleaning the old tub with denatured alcohol, removing the drain and overflow, and trimming the liner so it fits snugly.
    4. After attaching the liner to the old tub, the rep installs the new drain and overflow, and caulks the seams with two-sided butyl tape and silicone adhesive.
    5. The homeowner can bathe in the liner that same evening after the liner is delivered, which can take four to eight weeks.

The Best Companies to Work For

As with any contractor, ask lots of questions when hiring a refinishing or tub lining company online.

Recommendations from People You Know

The first thing you should do is ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations. Inquire about the installer’s training history (Re-Bath requires a nine-day course) and get references from the salesperson (and verify them!).

Vendors to contact

Before signing a tub lining contract, ensure that the company has the exact model of your tub. Do not be discouraged if you do not get a convincing answer from the headquarters where molds are made.

Liners made of PVC should be avoided

A company that uses PVC liners should also be avoided. The disadvantages of acrylic are that it tends to yellow with age, and it is thinner than vinyl. If you are going to use adhesives or any other chemicals, ask for product safety data sheets since there is no regulation or certification in this industry.

The chemical industry

The refinisher may or may not use “safe” solvents; they may or may not be safe after they’re washed down or dried. Make sure the room is ventilated thoroughly and you stay away from the work area until the fumes have abated.

This guide will help you install a tub safely and have it look brand new.

Where to Find Tub Liner and Refinishing Companies

American Bath Co.

Box 2741

Babylon, NY 11703



Grampp Tub Refinishing

330 Moberly Ave.

Richmond, KY 40475




1055 S. Country Club Dr.

Mesa, AZ 85210



The Reglazing Company

5228 34th St.

Lubbock, TX 79407