Remodeling your bathroom is a great way to increase your satisfaction and enjoyment of the space. It's also an excellent means of improving your home's resale value. However, these benefits don't come cheap. According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, the average bathroom remodel in the U.S. is around $16,000. In order to cut down costs, some homeowners are opting to pay for bathtub refinishing rather than replacing the tub. While that may seem like a good idea, the fact is, there are three compelling reasons to bathtub replacement is better than bathtub refinishing.
More than Meets the Eye
When you look at your bathtub, you only see the outer surface, but, in order to truly understand what you're up against, you have to dig a little deeper. The plumbing that lies beneath the tub, and inside the walls is as important, if not more so, than the tub. If the pipes and drains are old and rusty, it's a disaster waiting to happen. Over time, and with repeated use, the pipes can start to drip and leak, damaging the structure beneath and around it. If the bathroom is on the second floor, the leak will quickly be evident on the ceilings and walls of rooms below it. These problems are not just a nuisance, they are incredibly expensive and time-consuming to repair.
When you replace a tub, everything comes out, the tub, faucets, tile and walls around the tub. Once the pipes are exposed, makes it easier to install new drains, plumbing and faucets. Refurbishing or refinishing a bathtub means just that, making the tub look better. It's simply an aesthetic fix, and has no bearing on the mechanical operations of the tub. The problem with that is the old parts are left in place, which could lead to repairs or replacement down the line.
Better, Longer-Lasting Results
If your home is average, meaning it isn't a historical landmark with antique tubs and unique faucets, installing a new, higher quality bathtub, is a better option than refinishing. The reason is quite simple, the bathtubs that are installed in modern homes are generally of a fairly low quality in order to keep the builder's costs low. They look good for a few years, but eventually, they become dull, dingy and uninviting. No matter how hard you try, you'll never get it to look as good as new.
Refinishing a tub may be relatively inexpensive, however, keep in mind that it's similar to painting the surface and there is a potential for the newly finished surface to become scratched, marred or otherwise damaged. Abrasive cleaners, accidentally dropping items in the tub and general wear and tear take their toll on a refinished surface. What's more, many older tubs are surrounded by tile walls with grout, making them difficult to maintain, especially if they are used frequently. Installing a new, one-piece molded acrylic unit will make it easier to keep clean and fresh looking for years to come.
More Options With Replacement
When you compare refinishing a tub to replacing it, there's no doubt that the options are more limited when it comes to refinishing. You're still going to have the same tub in the same location, meaning the bathroom will be the same configuration it's always been. If you are spending the money to replace the toilet, light fixtures, cabinets and flooring, and you're simply refinishing the tub, you're not getting the biggest bang for your buck.
Replacing the bathtub has a bigger, more powerful impact. You can choose a larger tub, one with jets, a soaking tub or something similar to the one you have. However, you don't necessarily have to put the tub back where it was. You could put it on a different wall, and organize the other fixtures around it to give you more room. That means you'll enjoy the space more, and find it easier to get yourself prepared for the day. It also means your tub will be just as new as all the other components of the bathroom so it won't feel mismatched or out-of-place.
No matter what some companies may have you believe, the cost to refinish a tub is on par with replacing it. You're not really going to save much by having it redone. Not only that, but it's not something you can really do yourself. You have to hire someone in to do it right. So, don't be fooled by promises that your tub will look good as new if it's refinished. You're better off installing a new bathtub rather than fussing with one that's seen better days.