Refinish or Replace Your Ugly Bathtub? Pros & Cons

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Our bathtub used to be a horrible shade of almond, or maybe it was pinkish-beige. Whatever it was, it was not pretty. Since ripping out the whole old tub was not in the budget, we opted for refinishing instead. I hunted through local vendors on Angie’s List (now “”), and eventually settled on one with solid reviews.

First the pros: you wind up with a much better looking tub, at a fraction of the cost of ripping out and replacing your tub. The cons: your bathroom and house will smell like spray paint for days, the quality of application varies, the refinished tub chips easily (resulting in ugly glimpses into the tubs past life and color), and ultimately the old tub will still be your old tub.

If it wasn’t for some unevenness in the application, and the fact that we already have several chips from dropping objects onto the tub, I think we would be thrilled with it. However the appearance and durability just don’t match what you would get with a new tub. My personal take is, if you have an ugly color but are not gutting your whole bathroom, then refinishing is great. However if you are doing a full bathroom remodel, and your tub needs help, I would replace the tub outright.

If I have talked you out of refinishing, Vintage Tub & Bath has some great tubs starting at just around $1000. – Free shipping on ALL products including U.S. and Canada!

If you decide to refinish, you can probably expect to pay roughly $300 plus or minus $100 for a typical job.

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About Marc Lyman

Marc grew up under a brave single mom who "encouraged" home improvement on the family home. Early toddler gifts included a tool set, and even a cordless Bosch drill when cordless drills first came out. In grade school (give or take a few years), Marc's mom said, "We need to cut down some trees. . . . here's a chainsaw." A father figure also involved Marc in many home improvement projects, including a summer of home remodeling in Palo Alto, CA. Toss in some Obsessive Compulsive personality traits researching everything home improvement related. The end result: a genetically pre-disposed, socially sculpted home improvement machine! For his complete profile, please visit our About page. Really, it's worth it.

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4 thoughts on “Refinish or Replace Your Ugly Bathtub? Pros & Cons”

  1. I am sure both you gentleman are brighter under different circumstances. Are you serious? You drop hard and heavy items in the tub, and are suprised the tub chipped. Wow. Then your plumber scratches your tub, which everyone knows you handle all plumbing before re-glazing. What exactly were you expecting from reglazing your tub? You painted it, you didn’t give it super powers. Good Luck gutting your bathroom everytime you drop a shampoo bottle. That was hilarious, guys. Absolutely priceless.

    • Hi Steve,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment, but how about keeping the tone friendly here? No need for personal attacks on HomeFixated. I didn’t say I was surprised that the tub chipped, but instead was sharing the information so that others might learn from our experience. Many re-glazing companies tout how bullet-proof their finishes are. . . we wanted to share a little real world experience so others might know what to expect with bathtub refinishing. And to address your point about timeline, we had plumbing work done well after the reglazing when we had open wall access to the plumbing (during a remodel of another room) and could easily swap out the very aged and decaying original plumbing. You may think we should have skipped that opportunity since we reglazed the tub prior, but then you didn’t see our old plumbing! Maybe you can see years into the future with every home improvement project, but we have not mastered that yet!
      ; )

  2. I have remodeled many bathrooms over the years and most recently done tub change outs. The tub change outs are done for a reason, someone has already “re-glazed” the tub and now it is peeling! I would only re-glaze if you are ready to sell your house and you want it to look good. The only correct way to address an old tub is to replace it. Most likely if your tub is that bad your tile and plumbing probably could use an update anyway.

    • Thanks for your comment Edward! It’s funny you should write this, because I was just thinking about updating this post with a cautionary tale. Instead, I’ll share my similar thoughts to yours in this comment reply. Our refinished tub looked great until four separate incidents of hard items falling in the tub resulted in four unsightly chips that the old color is now brazenly showing through. Plus, when we swapped out some of the drain plumbing, the finish also came off around the drain. My plumber mentioned how brittle refinish tends to be, and now we know how correct he was. Overall the refinished tub still looks good, especially if you squint really hard. But I suspect it won’t be too long before we regret having refinished it. I think your comment is right on the money. If you want a short term superficial improvement, then refinish. If you want to do the job right for the long run, opt for a new tub (and mostly likely re-doing a good portion or all of your bathroom while you’re at it). If you do refinish, keep any hard objects that might fall into your tub a safe distance away!


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