If you're thinking about replacing your existing bathtub—whether it's because hairline cracks are appearing, it's becoming increasingly hard to get clean, or it's a lovely avocado green color—you might want to consider a bathtub liner as an option.
What Is a Bathtub Liner?
A bathtub liner is a custom made liner that literally fits right over your existing bathtub. They're usually made from acrylic, but some are available in plastic or PVC (Poly vinyl chloride). Liners come in a wide range of colors, so they can fit in with virtually any new décor ideas you might have for your bathroom. The hard surfaces are reportedly easy to clean, difficult to damage, and last for years.
A bathtub liner (and tub surround) fit right over the existing tub and walls, and don't require you to remove anything except the knobs on the plumbing fixtures. You can still use all of the existing plumbing, and the whole thing can usually be installed in a day.
Why Not Just Replace the Bathtub?
Replacing a bathtub is a major renovation job. To begin with, you will need to remove the old tub. Then it is more than likely that you will need to remove at least some of the tiles on the walls around the tub, and of course reinstall them after the new tub is in. Depending on your new tub design, you might also need to move some plumbing. Worst of all, you may actually have to open up a wall and remove some studs just to get the old tub out of the room. All of this will take at least a few days, and maybe more than a week!
Can I Install a Bathtub Liner Myself?
While there are standard liners available at home stores that DIYers can install themselves, custom made liners are installed by professionals. The installation process usually begins with a home visit from the installation company. During this visit, they take exact measurements of your existing bathtub and tub surround. These measurements are sent to the manufacturer who builds the liner to exactly match the measurements.
The manufacturing process takes about two weeks, but once it's delivered, the tub liner itself can be installed in less than one day.
A Custom Fitted Liner Sounds Expensive - What Does All This Cost?
A custom made bathtub liner will cost between $700 to $1,000 installed, while a liner and tub surround should cost about $2,000. This is not cheap, but when you consider the quick turnaround and the convenience of installation, it's well worth considering. Replacing a bathtub itself will likely cost considerably more ($3,000 - $5,000) when you include the cost of replacing the walls and tiles. Plus, who can calculate the incremental personal cost of being without a bathtub for up to a week?
Can't I Just Resurface My Existing Tub?
Yes, reglazing is an option. The charge for a professional reglazing is in the $500 range and can usually be done in a day, making it as convenient as installing a bathtub liner. However, some people claim the odor of chemicals used to clean and prepare the bathtub surface prior to reglazing stays in the home for a number of days, so that could be a problem.
The hotel industry has generally decided that bathtub liners and tub surrounds are the best way to renovate and update their hard working bathrooms. The adaptability, durability and convenient installation of acrylic liners are undoubtedly factors in this decision.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with articles published in both the United States and Canada. He has written on a wide range of topics, but specializes in home maintenance and how to's.