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Question DetailsAsked on 1/23/2014

what is the difference between reglazing and refinishing a bathtub

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Unfortunately, means different things to different people - so be sure what YOUR contractor is talking about, and use a more definite description in the contract.

Refinishing is a generic term - can mean reglazing, repainting, or putting in a liner, called relining.

Reglazing would technically mean replacing the ceramic glaze (and refiring it) on a ceramic coated tub - the longest-lasting coating. However, while there are a VERY few companies who do this, it requires a high-temperature furnace to melt the glaze and certainly can't be done in-house, so is generally only done with antique clawfoot free-standing tubs. You would not do this on a normal tub - since the tub has to come out to do it, costs more than buying a new one and putting that in - not to mention shipping cost to get it to and from the ceramic coating contractor.

The "reglazing" that is advertized is basically repainting - with an acrylic, enamel, urethane or epoxy spray paint. Can vary from electrostatic or 2-component epoxy finishes that can be as hard and durable as the original (if properly prepped and applied), to a guy with a '54 beater pickup and a cheap Rustoleum do it yourself box kit of spray enamel paint that may start coming off in days if not prepped and applied exactly right.

Relining involves putting in a fiberglass or acrylic or polyethylene liner that (supposedly) exactly fits into the tub, overlapping the edges so it looks, in theory, like a new tub without the expense of actually swapping the tub out, which typically costs 2 or more times as much as relining.

Unfortunately, like with gutters and window screens and siding and roofing, there are a LOT of inexperienced and untrained franchise people doing this, so finding one with excellent reviews is critical to getting a job that can last.

My personal recommendation - skip the enamel paints and liners, and if you are going to do this get an experienced contractor who sandblasts or wire brushes or grinds the existing surface to a roughened but smooth surface, then uses a 2-coat two-component epoxy - only ones I have seen that last and do not seem to crack in no time flat.

If you do decide on a relining, you HAVE to make sure the outer edge is sealed under the edge of the tile or surround, otherwise water will get between it and the original tub and go stagnant, creating a very bad odor and ruining the original tub, meaning you then have to go with the more expensive tub replacement you were trying to avoid in the first place.

I would not recommend refinishing over replacement if you can afford that - either for the long run if you plan on staying in the home indefinitely, or for resale. They very commonly look like something from a cheap motel or campground cabin, and are commonly sold with plastic surround jobs that reinforces that appearance. However, is commonly done to "clean up" a bathroom's appearance for sale, and in rentals.

For more info/comments - click on the Home > Bathtub Refinishing link right under your question.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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