How Much Does Bathtub Refinishing Cost?
Replacing a bathtub can be expensive and often requires demolition, construction, and disposal fees. Refinishing is a great alternative, with bathtub refinishing costs ranging from $335 to $628 and an average cost of $481.
- The typical range for bathtub refinishing costs is $335 to $628, with a national average of $481.
- Costs for bathtub refinishing can vary due to the tub material, tub type, tub condition, refinishing method, materials, labor, and the tub refinishing company used.
- Some signs that a tub could use refinishing are discoloration, rust stains, water marks, chipping or scratches, bubbling or peeling paint, or a dull finish. Benefits of refinishing include improved aesthetics, cost-effectiveness, an extended tub life, and reduced landfill waste.
- Ambitious DIYers could potentially refinish a bathtub themselves; however, a professional can deliver the best results on a faster timeline.
Doing a face-lift on a full bathroom can be a reasonably inexpensive process with some careful shopping. A new sink, faucet, vanity, light fixture, and toilet can all be purchased and installed without breaking the bank. But what about the tub? Over years of daily use, hard water, and scrubbing, bathtubs can get scratched or scuffed and lose their shine. Replacing a bathtub, especially if it’s an older cast-iron tub, requires extensive demolition of the floor and surrounding walls, and it sometimes means the tub needs to be broken up before being removed to a dumpster. Often the demolition means the walls need to be rebuilt and retiled, the floor needs to be replaced, and sometimes even the supporting studs underneath the tub need repair or replacement. In other words, a quick bathroom face-lift can quickly turn into a full-scale remodel that wasn’t in the plan or the budget. The purchase, delivery, and installation of a new tub are expensive as well.
Older tubs—especially sturdy cast-iron ones—are able to be refinished. Essentially, the tub is either lined or repaired, reglazed, and sealed to look like new. While a refinish won’t necessarily last as long as the factory finish on a brand-new bathtub, it’s considerably less expensive than a replacement. According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, bathtub refinishing generally costs between $335 and $628, with an average cost of $481. Refinishing can make the bathtub beautiful, sanitary, and safe until a full-scale rebuild of the bathroom is in the cards, so it’s an option homeowners may think is worth checking out before committing to a bathtub replacement. There are a number of considerations that go into determining bathtub refinishing costs, so learning about the options before making a decision can be helpful to homeowners trying to stick to a budget.
Factors in Calculating Bathtub Refinishing Cost
There are more options than one might expect when making choices on a refinishing project, and each has pros and cons and a different associated cost. Before consulting a professional or trying to DIY bathtub refinishing, homeowners will want to consider the following components as they establish a reasonable budget.
Many older homes feature cast-iron tubs glazed with porcelain. More recently installed tubs may also be steel coated with porcelain. Steel and cast-iron tubs coated with porcelain are quite straightforward to refinish, and the coating can last for several decades. It costs between $300 and $700 to refinish a steel tub and between $350 and $650 to refinish a cast-iron tub.
Very old bathtubs may be constructed completely from porcelain. All porcelain tubs will require specially trained professionals to resurface them because the porcelain is thicker and more fragile. Resurfacing porcelain tubs costs between $300 and $600.
Tubs made of fiberglass require a different process to avoid cracking the shell of the tub during the process, and the reglazing technique is also different. Refinishing fiberglass takes more time and effort to achieve a smooth, durable finish. Homeowners can expect fiberglass refinishes to cost between $250 and $600. Acrylic tubs feel similar to fiberglass (in fact, they’re usually acrylic over fiberglass) and will also need some special handling for the new surface to properly adhere.
The configuration and type of the bathtub will affect the cost. Larger surface areas cost more than smaller ones. For example, a basic inset bathtub that’s 5 or 6 feet long will be the least expensive type to refinish; this is because only one side of the exterior needs to be finished, and the interior is a reasonably small size. If the tub is part of a bath-shower combination in which the tiles will also be refinished, the cost increases considerably because of the addition of the wall surface area. Bath-shower combinations cost between $500 to $1,000 to refinish. Clawfoot and freestanding bathtubs are the most expensive type to refinish (ranging from $500 to $1,200) because their deeper walls provide a large surface area, and their exteriors often require refinishing as well.
If the existing bathtub is in reasonably good condition—perhaps it has a few small scratches, general wear, and a tiny chip or two—the cost is likely to stay toward the lower range of the average for its size, type, and material. Conversely, a tub with significant cracks, gouges, or chips will need to be repaired before the tub can be reglazed, which will increase the cost of materials and labor and push the repair higher in the average cost range.
The most common and economical refinishing method involves sanding down the existing glaze, repairing any cracks or chips, painting or spraying on the new finish, and sealing it. Other refinishing options are bathtub inlays and bathtub liners. Inlays are inexpensive and quick to install, and they will seal the bottom of the bathtub completely so that any leaks that were present in the bottom of the tub are permanently fixed. Inlays cover only the bottom of the tub, however, so while they’re very functional, their cosmetic appeal is limited. A bathtub liner, on the other hand, is a custom item designed to the exact specifications of the existing tub. The liner slips over the entire bathtub and seals in place as if it were always there. There are no seams and no drips—just the appearance of a new bathtub. Liners aren’t a quick fix; they can take up to a month or two to be fabricated. They’re the most expensive refinishing option, but they create the appearance of a brand-new tub without the hassle of construction.
Materials and Supplies
In general, the materials to refinish bathtub surfaces will make up approximately $30 to $150 of the total cost. Refinishers will need to use acrylic urethane bathtub refinishing spray, which is a waterproof medium—almost like a bathtub paint—that closely resembles the finish of porcelain when it dries. They’ll also need tools, primer and sandpaper, and putty for patching chips. Material costs for inlays or liners will vary based on the size and shape of the tub and surface.
Refinishing bathtubs is a relatively quick job; the time needed to reglaze bathtub surfaces is often 1 day or less. There are some exceptions, such as bathrooms in which it’s very difficult to maneuver or there’s little ventilation, but on the whole, the labor required isn’t likely to be for more than 1 to 2 days and will cost between $200 and $500. Inlays are similarly swift projects, and liners are a 1-day install, but they do require significant preparation, measuring, and molding ahead of time.
Bathtub refinishing companies may charge different prices based on their methods and the locations where they operate. Miracle Method and Perma Glaze are two of the most popular options. Miracle Method charges $400 to $600 and treats acrylic, clawfoot, fiberglass, marble, and porcelain tubs. Perma Glaze refinishes bathtubs as well as countertops, sinks, tiles, and more. The company uses a proprietary glaze that is made from synthetic porcelain. Bathtub refinishing from Perma Glaze cost is $250 to $650.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Beyond the basic elements of materials, labor, and specifics of the method of bathtub refinishing, there are a few other things for homeowners to think about. While reading through these cost considerations, some people overwhelmed by the cost may be wondering, “Can’t I just buy a bucket of tub paint?” At the other end of the spectrum, some might think, “Maybe I should just replace the whole thing—I want a custom job.” Still, others will be thinking, “Where can I find bathtub refinishing near me?” because refinishing sounds like a happy medium. These are actually great questions. For some, the higher cost of replacement is acceptable because they want specific changes or need major repairs. And while a bucket of bathtub refinishing paint won’t help much without significant preparation, there are some DIY options for bathtub refinishing. These are just a few of the additional points for homeowners to think about while making a decision about their tub.
Refinishing vs. Replacement
Why not just replace the tub? For some people, that is the best option, especially if they’re looking for a larger tub or a more modern shape. If the tub has significant damage, large leaks, or damaged plumbing, replacing it may make more sense than refinishing. Bathtub replacement costs up to $13,000 with an average cost of $5,200, and the cost can run higher if the pipes in the walls need to be replaced or there are problems discovered during deconstruction. With an average cost of $481, repairing and refinishing the existing tub are often a better choice financially if there’s no clear reason not to.
Refinishing vs. Reglazing
Reglazing refers to a process by which the original surface of the entire tub is first removed via sanding or acidic etching. Chips and small cracks are then repaired and smoothed, and the tub is sprayed or painted with a special urethane glaze that mimics the original porcelain finish. The tub can be reglazed in the original color or a different color, and the finish will last up to 15 years when well maintained. However, this lifespan is only applicable to the first refinish—subsequent refinishes will not hold as well to the base material and will peel or chip more easily.
One caution for homeowners to consider: The chemicals and acid used to deglaze the original finish are extremely caustic and can be dangerous for people, pets, and pipes if not properly vented and diluted. Homeowners will want to make sure the contractor has a plan for ventilation and chemical disposal. Other than that, reglazing is an excellent option to preserve tubs with beautiful detailing and attractive shapes or any tub that is minimally damaged.
Bathtub Liner Installation
If the surface of the tub is badly damaged or leaking, a bathtub liner may be the answer. Individually designed to fit over the existing tub (and sometimes the walls as well), a liner can change the color of the tub, add style and features such as built-in shelves or hangers, and doesn’t require heavy sanding or tub removal. Installing a bathtub liner costs between $2,500 and $9,400. Lining the tub costs more than reglazing, but it’s still substantially less than the construction and dumping charges that come along with replacing the whole tub. There can be some complications, however. If the liner doesn’t fit tightly to the original tub, additional caulking and sealing may be necessary, and mold or mildew can grow between the original tub and the liner. Liners cannot be installed on freestanding tubs. But for homeowners trying to freshen or repair a badly damaged tub without major construction, a liner is a great choice.
Bathtub Inlay Installation
The least expensive option, bathtub inlays repair the bottoms of acrylic, fiberglass, or plastic tubs. Usually installed after a crack or a leak has occurred, inlays permanently repair leaks and can add a nonslip surface to an existing tub. Installation is fast, and the inlay can be refinished along with the rest of the tub for uniformity. Inlays are functional repairs more than they are aesthetic changes, but they can significantly prolong the life of a fiberglass, acrylic, or plastic tub that has sustained damage to the bottom.
If there is more than just aesthetic damage to the bathtub that needs to be repaired, these costs average about $100 to $300. The most common repairs include resealing or caulking around the tub, which costs $50 to $200. Costs could reach as much as $850 if there are plumbing issues like leaky pipes that need to be addressed. Filling chips or cracks starts at $195 to $300, but that cost will increase to around $25 per chip after the first three chips have been filled.
If a homeowner is interested in adding custom features to the bathtub, they’ll generally pay an overall higher price. Choosing unusual colors may require custom mixing. Adding features to a tub liner that don’t exist on the original tub, such as shelves and niches, will add to the cost, as will modifying the edge shape of a liner. Some refinishers can even add custom stone texture or the appearance of stone for an additional fee.
Bathroom Refinishing Cost by Type of Bathtub
While the average cost of bathtub refinishing is $480, methods for refinishing different bathtub materials can vary, so costs will ultimately depend on the process that is used. Some materials require only a coat of refinishing paint, while the process for others may be more labor-intensive.
|Material||Cost (Materials and Labor)|
|Acrylic||$400 to $700|
|Cast Iron||$350 to $650|
|Enamel||$350 to $600|
|Fiberglass||$250 to $600|
|Porcelain||$300 to $600|
|Steel||$300 to $700|
Acrylic bathtubs can become dull and dingy after several years of usage, so refinishing can bring them back to life. Acrylic tubs are commonly difficult to replace because of the way they are installed, so refinishing can be a simpler and more affordable option. Homeowners can expect to pay between $400 and $700 to refinish an acrylic tub.
Cast-iron tubs must first be sandblasted in order to remove the old finish, then re-enameled. This process can be pricey, but once the new enamel is applied, it is likely to last up to a century. Cast-iron bathtub refinishing costs between $350 and $650.
Enamel refinishing costs between $350 and $600. While bathtubs are not made completely of enamel, it is used as a coating material for refinishing cast-iron and steel tubs.
Fiberglass bathtub refinishing will cost between $250 and $600. This process will remedy any chips or scratches in the fiberglass surface. Since this material is prone to cracking, it may be necessary to stabilize the tub with an inlay before refinishing it, which could increase the cost.
While it used to be common for tubs to be made completely of porcelain, newer porcelain tubs are often made with a steel or cast-iron base. If the tub is over 100 years old, it is likely solid porcelain and will need to be refinished carefully to avoid damaging it. On average, it costs $300 to $600 to refinish a porcelain tub.
Most steel bathtubs are finished with a coating such as enamel or porcelain. When this coating becomes cracked, chipped, or dull, it’s a good idea to have the tub refinished. Refinishing a steel tub costs between $300 and $700 on average.
Do I need to refinish my bathtub?
Sometimes it’s clear that a tub needs replacement. Those who have recently moved into a home that has older fixtures or hasn’t been well maintained may encounter an old iron tub that’s so chipped and cracked that rust has bloomed, eating quickly through the cast iron and creating leaks. If the tub has sustained significant structural damage or the plumbing needs to be ripped out, a refinish might not be enough. However, many small problems can be corrected with a good refinish, and these problems are indications that the tub could use refinishing.
Heavy mineral content in water can lead to pink or brown stains left on the tub, and splashed chemicals, hair dye, and other solutions can leave an older tub looking less than inviting. Having permeated the outer coating on the original finish, these stains can’t be cleaned off, but the etching and sanding that take place before a reglaze can remove them and replace them with a shiny new coat, and a liner can simply cover them up.
Rust stains in a cast-iron tub may indicate that the original finish has been breached significantly enough that water has had time to create rust on the underlying iron. This is unattractive, of course, but as the rust spreads, it may cause the chipped spot in the finish to bubble and grow, creating sharp edges and leaks. Refinishing the tub before the rust spreads significantly will remove the rust and reseal the iron safely underneath a urethane finish. Rust stains can also appear in tubs as a result of older iron pipes in the water supply that carry iron deposits to the tub and that then create unsightly stains on the tub walls and bottom. Although reglazing the tub itself won’t solve the problem of the mineral deposits, a newly sealed surface will make it harder for the deposits to stain.
Water marks—gray splotches and dull or pale spots on the tub—are also an indication that the original finish has worn down and water is able to leave spots or marks on the tub. While water marks aren’t attractive, they’re yet another indication that water is seeping underneath the finish of the tub, and rust or a bubbling finish may soon follow.
Chips and Scratches
The occasional chip or scratch is inevitable in a bathtub that is regularly used. Tools get dropped during plumbing work, a glass bottle can hit the tub edge at the wrong angle, and even sharp jewelry can leave a scratch if it catches the edge while the bather is getting into or out of the tub. Small chips and scratches probably aren’t a big deal structurally, but they don’t look nice, and they may harbor bacteria that’s difficult to clean.
Bubbling or Peeling Paint
When water gets underneath the finish of a tub, it creates space, so even after it evaporates, more water can take its place. Eventually, air and water will press the space out to create bubbles that burst into peels. Once this happens, more water can get underneath the finish, causing more bubbles and more peeling. If the surface is exhibiting signs that this has happened, it’s time for the homeowner to consider refinishing the tub.
A solid tub surface should be shiny and uniform. This makes it easy to keep clean and hygienic. A dull surface means that the shiny top layer has worn off, which means that the remaining finish is vulnerable. The dull finish is also more prone to staining and chipping, and it may scratch when vigorously cleaned.
Benefits of Refinishing a Bathtub
There is a certain appeal to renovation that has to do with everything being fresh, clean, and new. But by refinishing a tub instead, homeowners can achieve the fresh and new feeling in a way that benefits the customer, the tub, and the environment.
A refinished tub is pretty; chips, scratches, and stains are gone. The surface is uniform and attractive. The caulk is fresh and new. Refinishing a tub can make it essentially look new, brightening up a bathroom and updating the color for a modern or traditional aesthetic.
Refinishing a tub, whether via reglazing or lining, is substantially less expensive and less time-consuming than replacing it. There is no demolition, reconstruction, replumbing, or disposal fees. The tub can be reglazed or lined without removing the walls surrounding it. Refinishing provides a new-tub look at a fraction of the cost of an actual new tub. For those looking to give their bathroom a refresh but who don’t have the cost of a bathroom remodel in their budget, bathtub refinishing can be an affordable option.
Extended Tub Life
Trashing an old tub feels wasteful, as does the expense that goes along with it, especially when the primary problems are aesthetic. A refinish can extend the life of the tub by a solid 10 to 15 years, so homeowners can enjoy a new look and fresh finish without spending money on something they don’t really need.
Reduced Landfill Waste
What happens to old bathtubs when they’re removed? Usually they’re broken up on-site and heaved into a dumpster, then carted to a landfill. Because of the combination of iron, steel, occasionally lead, and porcelain, tubs can’t be recycled or used for scrap, so they just sit in the landfill. This is, unfortunately, the only option if the tub is leaky or damaged beyond repair. But if the tub itself is sound and doesn’t need to be removed, the choice to refinish is an environmentally healthy option that still results in a like-new tub.
Bathtub Refinishing: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Can you paint a bathtub yourself? Well, technically, yes—especially for a homeowner who knows how to paint a bathtub from prior experience with this project. But painting a tub isn’t simply a matter of going out and buying a gallon of paint and a good brush. The “paint” used to reglaze tub surfaces isn’t regular paint: In order to bond well enough with the tub surface and be durable enough to withstand regular use, tub paint is usually an epoxy- or enamel-based paint or urethane. There are bathtub refinishing kits on the market that include the materials necessary to do a good job—etching material to break through the existing surface, tack rags and stir sticks, sandpaper, foam rollers and sandpaper, gloves, and either a spray-on coating or pour- or paint-on finish. The process requires extensive preparation, patience, and a steady hand to avoid streaks, marks, and drips. Then the homeowner will have to be patient while the tub fully cures before they can use it, which may be 4 or 5 days.
Using one of the best tub refinishing kits can certainly save homeowners some money. Ranging from $50 to $150 for DIY kits that can complete two coats on a full tub, they’re several hundred dollars less than professional reglazing. But there are other considerations. First, this isn’t a quick job (even if the label says it is). The actual glazing may be quick, but taping off the rest of the bathroom, prepping the surface, sanding and etching, then glazing, cleaning up, and curing take quite a while, and the bathroom will still be out of commission for a few days. Second, this isn’t an unskilled process. While a handy DIY homeowner can certainly achieve good results, the application requires some skill that there’s nowhere to practice other than on the tub, so the results may not be as smooth or as durable as anticipated. The chemicals that will be used are caustic, and some have strong fumes that can be dangerous in a space that isn’t sufficiently vented. Finally, it’s important for homeowners to be prepared for surprises. Peeling off old caulk and scrubbing and sanding down the edge of the tub can reveal unexpected problems, such as rotted walls, loose tiles (or worse, tiles that drop off the wall when not supported by the caulk and shatter), or mold and leaks. This is also a consideration if homeowners are deciding between a complete DIY bathroom remodel or hiring a pro. Professional installers will know what they’re looking for in these areas and can take care to note them and alert the homeowner to the proper course of action for repair.
Professional refinishers know exactly how to paint a bathtub for lasting results. They can mix custom colors to match existing tilework (there is an almost unimaginable number of shades of white) and are practiced and smooth in their prep and application. They know how much deglazing needs to happen, and they know when the sanding is even enough, how much primer to apply, and how to apply the color evenly for a perfect shine. Because of their expertise and the superior products they use, professional reglazing lasts between 10 and 15 years, while DIY kits are typically a 2- to 3-year stopgap. In addition, if a professional does make a mistake, they’re on the hook to correct it by either applying an additional coat or stripping it off and beginning again. Although it’s often tempting for homeowners to save extra money by tackling a project themselves, this particular job has a number of components that may add up to more than the homeowner expects, so paying a little extra to get the smooth, professional results they want while saving themselves a lot of frustration may be worthwhile.
How to Save Money on Bathtub Refinishing Cost
Choosing to refinish a bathtub is already saving money over a replacement, but it never hurts to look for additional cost savings.
- Ask the contractor what other services they provide. If the bathtub refinishing is part of a larger bathroom remodel, having the work done by the same company may result in a discount on all the projects. If you’re not sure who to hire for a bathroom remodel, it’s worth finding out whether one of the best bathroom remodeling companies (such as Bath Tune-Up or Granite and TREND Transformations) operates in your area.
- Choose standard colors and finishes rather than custom. Standard will almost always cost less than custom, so unless you require a custom color or finish, it’s more cost-effective to stick to a widely available choice.
- Ask for quotes from several companies before choosing one, and check references. Don’t choose the least expensive quote without making sure the company does excellent work.
- Explore your options fully. If you’re considering a bathtub liner, go to a showroom and step into a shower with a liner to make sure you like the way it looks and feels. Some people don’t care for the acrylic overlay, and you may find that reglazing is a better (and less expensive) option.
Questions to Ask About Bathtub Refinishing
When hiring a professional to refinish a bathtub, the customer is relying on their experience and professionalism to ensure a quality, long-lasting finish. Because there are so many steps to this job, and because there’s no way to check the durability of the finish right away, there are important questions to ask of contractors before hiring them.
- Is the business licensed and insured?
- What should be done in the bathroom before the technician arrives?
- Do you include grout/caulk removal and reapplication in the cost?
- Will you remove the drain cover to avoid a seam and ensure a good seal?
- What products do you use, and what training and experience do the technicians have with them?
- What problems do you anticipate in our project?
- Do you repair chips? How long will the repairs last?
- What kind of warranty do you offer, and for how long?
- What recourse do I have if I am dissatisfied with the quality of the surface?
- Can you provide references for customers whose tubs you have refinished?
Customers encounter a lot of terminology when they are reading about tub refinishing and replacement, and some of it isn’t entirely clear. For this reason, reading up on the options will help homeowners make a careful and well-thought-out decision when they begin talking to contractors. Plus, it will make it tougher for any shady “pros” to take advantage of them.
Q. Is it worth it to refinish a bathtub?
The answer to the question “Is bathtub refinishing worth it?” will partially depend on the condition of the tub and the cost of the project. As long as the owner is happy with the size and shape of the existing tub and the tub is in reasonably good condition, refinishing a tub can add 10 to 15 years to the life of the tub for a cost that won’t break the bank—so yes, it’s often worth it.
Q. Is it cheaper to refinish a bathtub or replace it?
The cost of refinishing a bathtub is significantly less than replacing one. Shopping for a replacement tub can often be misleading—shoppers will see pricing in the several-hundred-dollar range for a new tub and think that’s all it costs, but the demolition, removal, and disposal of the old tub and likely the walls of the bathroom, the replacement materials, and the labor cause the actual price of a replacement to reach much higher numbers. Refinishing rather than replacing the tub can save homeowners between 75 percent and 85 percent.
Q. What’s the difference between refinishing, reglazing, and resurfacing a bathtub?
Often these terms are used interchangeably to mean sanding and etching off the surface of a bathtub and replacing it with a new coat of resin or urethane coating to mimic the original porcelain or fiberglass surface. However, refinishing and resurfacing can also refer to adding an inlay to the bottom of a plastic, acrylic, or fiberglass tub, or to adding a liner to any tub that isn’t freestanding.
Q. How long does a bathtub reglazing last?
As long as it is cared for according to the instructions provided by the contractor, professional reglazing lasts between 10 and 15 years.