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Question DetailsAsked on 11/8/2016

Is keeping the old bathtub a good idea or not?

We have 2 bathrooms with bathtubs. In one bathroom, we will change the bathtub to a shower. In the second bathroom, I am planning to keep the existing bathtub. I will replace almost everything in this bathroom: new hardware for the existing bathtub, all new tiles around the existing bathtub, new cabinets, new shower doors, new lighting system, new paint.... Basically everything will be brand new and expensive items, except I am keeping the old bathtub. Is keeping the old bathtub and refurbishing it a good idea or not? Or I will be sorry in the future for not putting a new bathtub also. Our existing bathtub is the original one, built in 1970. It is cast iron and it is white. It does not have any chips now, but it has a hairline type of scratch. Please let me know what should I do? Do bathtubs go bad after a while and they should be changed? Is the 46 years a long life for this bathtub and I should replace it? Please advise me to change or keep this bathtub & refurbish it

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1 Answer


Commonly, cast iron tubs rust both from scratches and nicks down under the finish, and from the underside up under the enamel or porcelain finish - so you don't see it (other than maybe a small nick) till it breaks through as flaking or spalling finish. Personally, for the around $250-500 for a new tub (depending on how fancy you go, in the normal cast iron tub lines) and probably about $250-350 additional labor to install it (assuming you keep the drain location pretty much the same and tub size the same as the original in choosing a tub), I personally would not stay with an old tub in a whole new bathroom unless in pristine condition AND you want to keep it because of its specific Both because of the likelihood of rust occurring at least somewhere (commonly starting around the drain and fixture penetrations even if undamaged elsewhere), and because in another 5-20 years it will probably look REALLY dated - which could affect resale value.

As for refurbishing or refinishing a tub - the only jobs I have seen that did not look obviously refinished or downright shoddy (think 70 year old motel with original tub) were when the tub was removed (because it was an antique so they wanted to save it) and sandblasted to clean metal and then reglazed and refired with new procelain or fired enamel to provide a brand new factory-quality finish - at least a $700-1000 job to do that. I have never seen a refinish job that looked decent a few years after, and probably not over 2-3 that looked "like new" even right after they were done. Usually they look like an aged Bubba's Motel hand-painted refinish job. So - I would go with new, in a color that complements your new decor but is fairly neutral so as to not scare off buyers down the road. White, cream, light beige generally OK - yellow, blue, etc might look OK with a specific decor but are hard to blend into a different color pattern. Gray, black, green and brown (pretty rare to find those stock) - VERY difficult to blend into a new decor or Also, avoid real trendy or ultramodern designs unless the entire bathroom is real trendy or ultramodern - which also affects your resale prospects.

Talk to your contractor about the cost differential for a new tub (and get the exact model and color and installed price differential in writing in the contract or as a change order) - this also opens up the area underneath so you can detect and repair any water or piping damage (I would replace all accessible piping as it is opened up) so you are not building a new bathroom on possibly rotted subflooring or wall bases. (Walls will be opened up in second bathroom too, so possibility of rot in there two - so tearout of tub and walls should both be done BEFORE any new work starts going in, just in case there is damage to repair which might trace into the walls or flooring adjacent to the tub.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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