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Question DetailsAsked on 7/29/2014

Is it worth it to refinish an old bathtub?

We're starting to think about a remodel on our old bathroom (most of it dates to 1949). The one thing we would rather not replace is the bathtub. Its porcelain is really worn out, but we like the shape of the tub, and were thinking we'd just have it refinished.

A remodeler came to look at the bathroom and said: "Sure, you can refinish it, but I would advise against it. The reason is, you'll end up having to refinish it again after about 3 years. You may as well just get a totally new tub."

This surprised me.

Can anyone weigh in on this topic? If you get a tub, or a sink for that matter, professionally refinished, can you expect that new finish to wear out in a few years?

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5 Answers

Voted Best Answer

From the builder side - for in-place refinishing I agree - occasionally you see one that looks like it willl last, but most look like do it yourself car brushed paint jobs - generally thick, slightly wavy or lumpy - or a thin spray coat that looks like it will wear off in no time. I have seen only one type of refinish that looked like new and like it would last - and that is a polished plasma-applied powder coat finish that is actually melted on in-place - requires draping heat-proof insulation blankets around the entire work area and forced ventilation to the outdoors from that enclosure, as the flame is something like 3000 degrees. Makes for a beautiful finish but very high-end - last time I saw it done was for a 10' square cast iron jacuzzi tub, and cost $4000 range to do.

The only time I recommend refinishing is if the budget will not support the thousand or two it usually takes to replace a built-in tub (unless free-standing) and you are willing to accept a less than perfect finish, and for antique tubs. To do the job right it has to be removed and taken to a shop, thoroughly blasted to clean white metal, then re-finished with true oven-glazed porcelain or oven-baked enamel just like the original factory finish - and if done right the finish product reinstalled will typically cost $500-1000 more than putting in a new standard model factory tub. Therefore, the only ones that generally merit this treatment are antique clawfoot or lionfoot cast iron tubs and the like.

The reason refinishing is popular is because it can be done for ballpark $500 - which is more than the cost of a normal new tub, BUT avoids the problemn of getting the old tub out and the new one in, which almost always involves removal of at least part and sometimes all the wall tile or surround and partial removal of the plumbing for installation - that is where the replacement costs get nasty.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


Hi, this is Meranda with Angie's List.

Hopefully others will be able to chime in with personal experience, but I wanted to point out a few articles from our Newsroom on this topic:

Is it better to refinish my tub or buy a new one?

Bathtub refinishing or tub liners: Which is better?

Bathtub refinishing questions answered

If you need help finding a bathroom remodeler or tub refinishing contractor, you can always search those categories on the List, or reach out to member services for recommendations: or 1-888-944-5478 on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time.

I hope that helps!

Answered 6 years ago by Meranda


Thanks for the links Meranda. That does answer my question for the most part, but I'm looking for more anecdotal information from folks who have already had this done.

On a related note, I would have NEVER found those articles here on Angie's List because your website is extremely confusing. Please hire a usability expert!

Answered 6 years ago by Guest_9420070


Thanks, for the reply and feedback. We are actually working on redesigning the site. You'll hopefully notice some changes in the near future! In the meantime, you can find articles on this and many other topics at Use the search bar there to search for the topic you're interested in. Thanks!

Answered 6 years ago by Meranda


Thanks for the great answer, LCD. Whenever I've read about tub and sink refinishing, I've always had the nagging question in the back of my head: "How could it possibly be as good as the original porcelain surface?" From what you're telling me, it's just not going to be as good, and unless I have a clawfoot tub I want to restore, it makes more sense to just get a brand new tub and let the old one go to the scrap yard.

Answered 6 years ago by Guest_9420070


Cerrtainly, anytime you are redoing the surround anyway, I would go with the new tub versus refinish. Where refinishing comes in useful is when you have a very tight budget, need only a spot repair and can live with a little blemish in the finish, or are not prepared for whatever reason (including maybe moving out shortly) to put a lot of money into tearing the tub and at least part of the surround out at this time. Otherwise, I do not recommend it,though I have heard of a few (not a lot) of people who were happy with the refinishing.

It is also popular for minor remodels or before renting to a new person in rentals and timeshares (and in motels and dormitories and such), which is also where you see more of the liners and total tub/liners put in also.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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