BATHTUB REGLAZING VS BATHTUB REPLACING
“My bathtub is worn out and just plain ugly, I can replace it with a new tub from Home Depot for $200, why should I Reglaze/Refinsish instead?”
As a bathtub refinisher and a contractor, I hear this question often. The answer is nuanced and not as straight-forward as the question may seem. I’ll do my best to explain here when it makes sense to refinish your tub rather than replace it. This assessment is based on New York and NYC in particular…
CONSIDER THE LIFESPAN OF THE TUB
How long does a refinished bathtub typically last? Well, lots of factors go into the longevity of the finished bathtub, like: quality of coatings, the type of use (hotel, rental, private home etc..), care of a bathtub, to name a few, but the number one factor is a technicians skill in the preparation of the bathtub before the coatings are applied. With that being said, a well done bathtub should last 7-10 years with proper care and normal usage. I’ve seen reglazed bathtubs last 20 years with a little luck (nothing sharp and heavy drops on the tub) and diligence in its maintenance.
CONSIDER THE QUALITY OF THE TUB
Many people in NYC have older cast iron bathtubs which they enjoy and want to keep. Older cast iron tubs typically are deeper than the newer tubs you might find at Home Depot, and they are extremely well made. After 100 years the porcelain wears down to the black cast iron. Refinishing these bathtubs produces an absolutely gorgeous, like-new finish. Other newer tubs made from acrylic, fiberglass or steel can also be reglazed, but refinishing cannot change the quality of the original bathtub. Some of these tubs flex, crack, warp, wear down or even have holes large enough to allow water to penetrate through to the joists that support the tub. Refinishers can make these tubs look great and the new finish will last, but again, the quality of the original tub is a factor.
CONSIDER THE COST
The case for Bathtub Reglazing/Refinishing/Resurfacing is one mostly based on cost. The average price for a bathtub refinished in NYC and the surrounding areas is somewhere between $300-$400. When replacing a bathtub, one must consider much more than the price of the bathtub. Not only will you factor in the cost to purchase the tub, but also the labor for the removal, replacement, plumbing and any tiles/accessories that were removed or broken in the process of removing the bathtub. Also, co-op boards (mostly in Manhattan) will require the shareholder to replace the plumbing supply lines all the way back to the riser, necessitating all new concrete board and all new tiles! At this point, you might as well gut renovate the entire bathroom. Even outside of Manhattan a licensed plumber will be required for the plumbing work.
So, “the cost of replacing” depends on what type of structure you live in, the tub you purchase and the tub you’re removing. Typically, in a house outside of Manhattan, a new $200 boots tub installed will cost $3,000 when factoring in: Removal, carting, disposal, plumbing labor, plumbing parts, accessories, tile patching (do you have extra tiles that match?) and whatever other damage from the tub removal is caused.
As for Manhattan co-ops, a renovation will easily cost $20K depending on the rules of the co-op board. In the outer boroughs, Westchester, Long Island and Northern New Jersey, co-ops are less stringent but still require a licensed plumber just to replace the bathtub. $3,000 is a minimum!
In conclusion, if you’re renovating and don’t like your current bathtub, by all means, replace it! But make sure you replace it with a quality bathtub, and not a $200 tub from Home Depot. Go this route and you’re likely to need a bathtub refinishing service a year later – once the $200 tub starts to dull and wear out.
SEE HOW WE REFINISH A CLAWFOOT TUB
Why Replace When You Can REGLAZE?!