Home Improvement Blog: A Toolbox of Ideas

Why Bathtub Refinishing Won't Fix the Problem Hiding Behind Your Tub

Posted on Fri, Jul 31, 2015

ID-100264890Your ancient bathtub is becoming an eyesore in an otherwise beautifully updated bathroom. The tub has been there for 30 years, tiles are falling off the walls, it looks worn out and, well, it doesn't smell too good either. No matter how many lemony-fresh bathroom cleaners you use on it, it still emits this strange, musty odor. So you look at your budget, scour the internet, and decide that bathtub refinishing is the way to go-it will spruce up that bathtub while saving you some money, right? Wrong. Bathtub refinishing may spruce up the surface of your tub, but do you have any idea what is hiding behind that surface? Do you know why all your lemony-fresh cleaners aren't kicking that smell to the curb? The culprit is most likely mold, and it's not going anywhere with a bathtub refinish. It's going to stay, make itself comfortable, and multiply at a mind-boggling speed behind your bathtub walls until it eats away at the wall and floor completely. In addition to destroying your home, the EPA states that the longer mold is allowed to grow, the more likely it is to have negative health effects on the people in your home. Some molds are toxic, and many types can cause health problems such as respiratory illnesses, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, and prolonged coughing.

How Did Mold Get Behind My Bathtub?

Your bathroom does not have sufficient ventilation. The risk for mold growth drastically increases in bathrooms without windows or a fan. Showering produces a lot of steam on bathroom surfaces, and a lot of water droplets on the walls of your bathtub. Bathroom fans and open windows help to draw out large amounts of steam, and dry surfaces quickly. Bathrooms without this ventilation will result in a lot of water and condensation sitting on surfaces, allowing mold to begin growing.

Your bathtub has cracks in caulking and tiles. Your cracked caulking and tiles are an open invitation for mold to get behind your bathtub walls. Once water seeps behind these cracks, all bets are off. Even if you try to repair cracks, once mold has begun to grow behind the walls of the tub, it will keep cracking the caulking open. 

No natural light behind walls. Think about how dark it is behind those bathtub walls-dark, moist places are the best environment for mold. Your cracked tiles or caulking has allowed water to seep through, and because there is absolutely no light back there to help ward off mold and mildew, it becomes the perfect home for rapidly multiplying mold spores.

You live in a humid climate. Although fresh air flowing through a bathroom can be helpful most of the time, a humid climate can be counterproductive in the fight against mold. Humidity in a bathroom needs to be controlled to prevent mold growth.

How Can Replacing My Bathtub Help? 

Refinishing the surface of a bathtub obviously cannot help banish mold that is growing behind the walls. Mold problems need to be addressed by replacing your tub and fixing the walls and floor behind and beneath it. Once the floor and walls have been repaired and are mold-free, your new bathtub replacement should be installed with mold-resistant materials and smooth, flat sheeting to avoid potential cracks and leaks associated with tile. Smooth material will prevent mold from adhering to the surface-textured floors with lots of bumps or deep grooves encourage mold growth and are difficult to clean. Mold retardant paint on walls provides additional protection against mold, at least for a few years.

Mold spores multiply very quickly, reproducing trillions of spores in just a matter of days. If you have had the same bathtub for many years, and it's riddled with cracked caulking or broken tiles, chances are you have some mold growing behind those walls. Refinishing the bathtub might seem like an appealing fix for an aging tub, but it can't truly fix the problems that are lurking in your bathroom. A refinish is simply putting a band-aid on a larger problem-one that's not going to go away on its own. Mold can lead to health problems and rot the structure of your home. Replacing your bathtub allows you to get to the root of the problem and keep your home and your family safe and healthy.  


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 Photo Credit:  http://www.freedigitalphotos.net  Artist:  Stuart Miles

Tags: Bathtub Refinishing, Bathtub Replacement