Refinishing scarred, old bathtubs is often preferable to buying a new tub. The tub can be refinished to look almost new. Cast-iron tubs are quite expensive, not to mention the expense of removing the old one and installing the new one.
One thing to consider if you decide to refinish your tub is that you can also have the toilet and sink done. According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), money spent on remodeling a bathroom can give you a very good return on investment if you ever decide to sell your home. The refinishing industry says that when a repair is done by a qualified technician it should last around 10 to 15 years or more.
As with any business, there are fixture refinishers who do good work and those whose work is not so good. The key to having a tub refinished is to have a few refinishers in to look at your tub and give you an estimate. When you set up this appointment, ask for the names of some former customers of the company and call them to find out if they’re happy with their refinishing job. They will give you a good indication of whether or not the company that you are talking with is reputable. Customer referral is often the best advertisement that a business can have. Someone who is pleased with work they have had done will not hesitate to tell you so.
Companies which do this kind of work are listed in the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory under “Bathtubs and Sinks – Repairing and Refinishing.” Also, people who sell building supplies and hardware and those in the construction industry may be able to recommend someone to do the refinishing for you.
Prices for tub refinishing vary from company to company and from tub to tub. You will have to be the judge of which is the best job for the price being asked. The comments of former customers can be of value here, too.
One other consideration in refinishing is that you have the option of changing the color of the original tub and other bathroom fixtures to something you like better.
Here are a few things that you can ask the prospective refinishers to help you determine the quality of the job they will do.
1) How do you prepare the old surface to accept the new finish? They should tell you that they will remove any trim surrounding the top edge of the tub. They should also roughen the old surface so that the new coating will adhere better to it.
2) What type of material will you use to resurface my tub? In most instances, the in-home resurfacing material will be an epoxy-base product or a urethane-base glaze. These materials are usually very tough and durable.
3) What is the expected life of the new finish?
4) Will you fill the deep scratches and nicks before you begin to refinish my tub? Usually a synthetic plastic resin is used to do this.
5) What sort of warranty do you offer on your work? Different people will offer different warranties. Sometimes this depends on the quality of their work and the experience they have had in refinishing.
Although methods and materials used by bathroom fixture refinishing technicians may vary, the basic process goes something like this: The old glaze is either dissolved using an acid-base solution or it is sanded or ground away. Any bad spots in the tub, like scratches, nicks or chips, are filled with a plastic resin. The porcelain surface, exposed when the glaze was removed, is roughened to “hold on” to the new finish better. One or more coats of primer are now applied to the surface. Then the technician puts one or more coats of the glaze (usually urethane-base) on top of the primer. The entire job should take only a few hours. The job must cure for at least two days before you can use the tub again. This curing phase is very important if you want the job to last.
In many instances, refinishing is well worth the cost when you consider the alternatives and expense of replacement. One more note: remember that kitchen fixtures can also be reworked to look like new.