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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Default Bathtub - Replace or acrylic liner?

    We have an old house built in the '20s, the bathtub is steel and is rusting through on the apron near the front. It is hard to get a good seal when showering and so water leaks down the apron near the fixtures. We also have a very ugly 3 piece acrylic surround that is coming loose. We called Luxury Bath for an estimate, they will do a tub liner and new surround with glass doors for about $4000.00. Our parents (and my mom's plumber) think the idea of putting a liner over a bad tub is just a band-aid, we're asking for trouble down the line and the right way is to remove and replace the tub. We are not handy and there is no question of doing this ourselves. Plus we only have the one bathroom so a big remodel would be inconvenient. I would like to know a rough idea of the cost to replace the tub and surround (assuming no surprises come up after we rip the old one out). Also, could you please give your opinions and experience with acrylic liners vs. replacement? As I said we know next to nothing about remodeling and we have a limited budget. We also have a hard time finding reputable contractors. Thanks in advance for any advice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    7,189

    Default Re: Bathtub - Replace or acrylic liner?

    Without seeing the tub and surround for myself it's hard to say, however, from your description, the surround is leaking as well as the rusted through tub. My suspicion is that you're going to find wall damage and likely floor damage when the tub and surround are pulled. That being the case, it would be far better to remove the tub and surround, replace everything, and repair any damage not currently visible. Inserts are only feasible when the surfaces they are going over are in good condition, which yours are not.

    Depending on what you replace the tub/surround with, and the extent you remodel the bathroom, this doesn't have to be an upsetting or massively inconvenient experience. It's all in the planning and the contractor you choose to do the work for you. If it were me, I'd demo only the tub and surround to determine the extent of the damage. From there a time-line can be created. It would also be very beneficial to have the new tub/surround on site before work begins.

    Depending on the replacements you choose, the abilities of the tradesman you hire, and barring any peripheral damage, the tub and surround could be replaced in a day, and a new floor can go down in a few hours. Drywall repairs can continue with the bathroom in use and you never have to lose the use of your bathroom.

    Now, if there is peripheral damage, as I suspect there is, you can stipulate that the toilet be reset at the end of each day, only leaving you without the tub for a day or two. The caveat here is whether or not the old unit can be removed and the new unit installed without having to demo a narrow doorway or remove the vanity. Other things, such as new tub type, surround type, etc., will affect the duration of the job.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Needham, MA
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    559

    Default Re: Bathtub - Replace or acrylic liner?

    spruce has the perfect answer to your question

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    94

    Default Re: Bathtub - Replace or acrylic liner?

    I have a similar situation, I have a house built in late 1940's and the tub has some rust through the porcelain and the finish of the tub over all is not smooth any more. But being the bathroom has a window on the wall the tub is located I can't put in a surround so I would have to pull some or all the tile surround then get the cast iron tub out which I have heard is a job in and of itself and being the only bathroom I can not be without the tub for long. As the OP I am stuck on a limited budget and the quotes I have got are out of my budget and the better contractors and shorter time the price goes up especially because of the added time of tiling the walls in the shower tub area. Plus again getting the tub out will do some wall (plaster) damage which adds to the project time. I have looked at it and keep putting it off doing it because of the high costs and doing it myself though possible getting the tub out I have heard is a major job being it is cast iron and replacing it with another cast iron tub would be the best long term way to go but the weight of the cast irom tub I would have to remove the toliet which adds more time and work just to get the tub out and the new one set in place... Though I have replaced the tub shower fixture. No two tubs fit especially te one I am removing is over 60 years old and nothi9ng seems to fit like the old has. So finding a contractor is a tough thing and it needs to be a quick project so what are my options??? And what would be a rough estimate being the ones I have is 5500 and I would have to do some of the finish work like painting and possible they might have pull up the tole floor dpending on how the tub fits and you can replace part of a tile floor. Sure does make it had to DIY yet looks like I might have to and do most of it in a weekend having everything on site and hope it goes smooth??? Tough to do when it is the only bathroom... And if I am going to do it then the window should also be replaced but with aluminum siding on the outside finding a window that fits that is decent quality just adds to the project.

    Any things I have overlooked to do the tub replacement if I do try and do it myself, how heavy is the old tub and how do you get it out whole or in pices and how would you cut it???? Sure could use a Tom Silva then you would know it would be done right...

    Just looking for advice and options.

    Thanks,
    MMeehan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    7,189

    Default Re: Bathtub - Replace or acrylic liner?

    Quote Originally Posted by MMeehan View Post
    I have a similar situation,
    MMeehan, in your situation it sounds like the tub and tile is sound. If that is the case, then your tub is a prime candidate for refinishing. A professional refinisher will clean and etch the tub surface then apply a new enamel coat that will be almost as good as the factory finish. Cost for a tub is around $400, it's been a while since I've done one so I can't get you any closer on the price. If you want to include the tile in that, the price will be a little less than double.

    If you indeed need to replace the tub, rather than going with a more expensive and heavier, labor intensive cast iron tub, an enameled steel tub will be nearly as durable and far cheaper and easier to install. You might be able to get away with removing only a couple rows of tile to change out the tub, but this is not a recommended procedure because it creates a "dry joint" in the grout that will crack and leak. You also are not relegated to tile only just because you've got a window. You can go with a man-made solid surface that is much like Corian and comes in stone finishes as well as solids. Man-made surrounds cost about the same as a full tile replacement.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Corvallis, OR, USA
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Bathtub - Replace or acrylic liner?

    Be aware that most bathroom repairs are a Pandora's box, best wishes.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    7,189

    Default Re: Bathtub - Replace or acrylic liner?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluedog58 View Post
    Be aware that most bathroom repairs are a Pandora's box, best wishes.
    You've obviously had a bad experience, but this statement is just not true. Any competent tradesman should be able to pretty accurately assess the extent of damage by looking at the condition of the bathroom. While one cannot see through walls or floors, it's darned good bet that major surface damage will be covering sub-structure damage. We may not be able to give you a cost of repair until we get in there to fully see what's going on, but we can tell you to expect further damage before we've even started.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    94

    Default Re: Bathtub - Replace or acrylic liner?

    Thanks for that bit of information on refinishing a tub. The only one I saw done was on This OLD House that Richard the plumber went to someone house and suggested refinishing but his commenst made me wonder he said that it would last a while but not as durable or as long as a new tub would be being that is the only time I have heard or seen anything about refinishing a tub. I know some that have added a liner and within 5 years it had issues with it. As for tubs I just looking at replacing being finding someone that will refinish that is worth getting it done is hard to do being I have heard of some bad work some I know have had done on their homes. Thus my comment in my post here about finding a Tom Silva. He seems to be very knowledgeable about home repairs but finding someone like that is very tough to do. Most of the remodelers are young and looking for a quick in and out job. If you do find someone that is good you have to be willing to pay for his knowledge and that gets costly. So it is hard to have any come in to do work. But I will look into tub refinishing. There is a 3/8 inch gap now between the tub and the tile the original tile is still in the home.

    Thanks for the information...
    MMeehan

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    7,189

    Default Re: Bathtub - Replace or acrylic liner?

    Quote Originally Posted by MMeehan View Post
    but his commenst made me wonder he said that it would last a while but not as durable or as long as a new tub would be being that is the only time I have heard or seen anything about refinishing a tub. I know some that have added a liner and within 5 years it had issues with it.
    The durability of refinishing has to do with the quality of the initial job, and the amount of use/abuse the tub sees in its daily life. In an abusive environment you can expect 3 to 5 years, in a gentle environment you can easily expect 10. Another thing to consider is that a factory finish isn't going to hold up either if you're using abrasive cleansers or abuse it. I've never received complaints from refinished tubs and I've been having them done for a while now.

    Quote Originally Posted by MMeehan View Post
    As for tubs I just looking at replacing being finding someone that will refinish that is worth getting it done is hard to do being I have heard of some bad work some I know have had done on their homes
    You're likely to have just as much trouble finding a remodeling contractor as a refinisher that is worth their salt. All you can do is your best. Talk with friends and family for recommendations. When choosing a contractor, check with the licensing body, BBB, and any other local organization that monitors contractors.

    Quote Originally Posted by MMeehan View Post
    Most of the remodelers are young and looking for a quick in and out job. If you do find someone that is good you have to be willing to pay for his knowledge and that gets costly.
    That is a sad but true statement, particularly in times like these when contractors are hungry for work. Be diligent, get multiple bids, and trust your gut when choosing.

    Quote Originally Posted by MMeehan View Post
    There is a 3/8 inch gap now between the tub and the tile the original tile is still in the home.
    There is usually a small gap like that and it needs to be caulked. Don't use the tub for a few days, place a fan in it to circulate the air in the gap to make sure it's dry. Caulk the gap with latex tub and tile caulk. Latex is easier to use and it's removable/replaceable, where as silicone is the Devil's spawn when it comes to such things, especially in the hands of a first time user.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

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