Reglaze or Replace Tub?

20 Replies

I have a rental with an old ugly blue tub. Would you reglaze it or put a new one in? Going along with that, how about tiling the wall vs putting in a shower surround from Home Depot? Thinking I'm going to tile. More expensive but looks way nicer.

@Kyle Doney

Depends on several factors. 

1.  What's the rent?  higher rent usually means nicer newer amenities.

2.  What's you strategy?  flip, wholesale, buy & hold, etc.

3.  Is the tub steel, cast iron, fiberglass, other?

4.  what is the costs difference in your area?

We've done both.  Reglazing works wonders with a 1950s 1960 colors like pink, green, blue tubs.  For resale we often do a reglazing.  The company that we use also does ceramic tile, countertops and other reglazing.  It really makes a difference. 

If you rip out the old tub there a lot of work, carpentry, drywall, plumbing new faucet, etc. so lots of ancillary costs.

Interesting. I have a condo under contract with a blue tub. The condo is circa 1964. I intend to flip it. When you say "reglaze" is that the same as a specific paint you can use over the existing finish?

John Thedford, Real Estate Agent in FL (#BK3098153)

Hi Kyle,

I do a lot of bathroom remodels. When considering re-glazing or replacing a tub, you should take a good look at the condition of the existing tile and grout as well as the seal along the top of the tub. If it looks as though it's been leaking than you probably have some rot behind it. Older installations were done over regular drywall rather than cement board (Duroc) which was very prone to deterioration. If you decide to replace the sheathing, definitely use cement board and waterproof with a product like Laticrete waterproofing. Another thing to consider is the shower / tub valve set. If it looks outdated, doesn't work as it should, doesn't have scald protection, than you might want to consider replacing it as well. This isn't a big deal if you're already replacing the wall board and doing a new tile installation.

I would avoid installing a fiberglass tub and surround in a rental because there's a pretty good chance that at some point a tenant will use an abrasive cleaner which will scratch and dull the surface making it look old and ratty pretty quickly and very prone to staining.

Assuming the substrate is okay, re-glazing and tile is the way to go for long term durability. For full out renovations I use name brand valve sets with replacable valve stems, enameled cast iron tubs from HD, and white subway tile with detail accents for a classic looking reasonably priced tile job.

@John Thedford

Its not quite paint.  Its an epoxy and when a professional installs they are in a suit head to toe and a resperator.  Sort of like painting a car.

Originally posted by @Kyle Doney :

I have a rental with an old ugly blue tub. Would you reglaze it or put a new one in? Going along with that, how about tiling the wall vs putting in a shower surround from Home Depot? Thinking I'm going to tile. More expensive but looks way nicer.

If you're keeping the rental long term AND you have already decided you're going to tile the surround, without a doubt replace the tub now, it's money well invested.

Reglazing is not a permanent solution, there are limitations to use that a renter won't honor either. If you weren't already committed to gutting the surround reglaze or replace would be a toss up, but since you're already tearing out the tile replacing the tub is definitely the way to go.

Thanks for the opinions. Yes, behind the old surround was just drywall. Its rotten along the bottom edge of the tub. The floor is moister damaged too. @David Krulac its metal and its a rental. @mikef I thought the reglazing was supposed to hold up very well. Below is a pic of what I have going on (I don't know why it posted sideways). 

Just out of curiosity how much does a typical tub re-glazing cost?  I know it probably depends on the condition and all but just looking for a general idea.

I would demo that thing and replace a new one. You are already doing the bathroom. Plus, the condition seems bad with all that mold, and the tub looks old. Saves you more money on a later date --remember if you are replacing the tub later, its going to cost more than what it would cost if you replace it now, unless you don't want to keep it for long.

Originally posted by @Bill Sargeson :

Just out of curiosity how much does a typical tub re-glazing cost?  I know it probably depends on the condition and all but just looking for a general idea.

about 600-900

I would replace it personally, reglazing is a cheap alternative but not if you have to deal with the glaze chipping and peeling in 4-5 years which puts you back to square one. Here in Chicago you can replace the tub for about $550.00, replumb as needed for about $200.00 and install a new trim kit $150.00. By the looks of your photo, you likely have some water damage behind it anyway so demo would be the only way to fly in my book. 

I'm in GA, and it cost about $500 to re-glaze my fiberglass tub/shower combo (I didn't like the color).   The guy who sprayed my tub said it would last about 10 years.  You're doing just a tub, so maybe it would be cheaper.  However, I live in a rural area and that skews my price comparisons a lot.

That said, I priced replacement fiberglass ones and you could get a tub w/shower surround for about $5-600 bucks from Lowes.  I just didn't want the hassle of tearing apart my bathroom.  It looks like your bathroom is already torn apart.....

I guess it depends on the work involved removing the tub.  if you're on a crawl or basement and have easy access to the plumbing, I'd just replace it.  Otherwise, re-glaze.

As for surround or tiles....depends.  If its a typical rental, I'd go with a surround.  Its more impact resistant, cheaper, less time involved in install and can easily be replaced.  If its a high end rental, better to do tile.

Based on the looks of that thing, I would just demo it and put new green-board in. Use a cheaper tub and tile.

if you are tearing out the drywall and tile and the tub is a steel tub I would replace it if it's a cast-iron tub and you are keeping the tile then I would glaze the tub if you don't want to take out an extremely heavy cast-iron tub, looking at the picture it looks like a steel tub I would just rip it out and replace. You can get a cheap steel tub for $199 at Home Depot, I hope you know how to install the tub. If not hire a plumber

taking a second look at that picture I would gut the whole bathroom there's mold everywhere

@Wilson Churchill

I'd do cement board, Duroc rather than green drywall for a tub surround, much more durable. 

Originally posted by @Bill Sargeson :

Just out of curiosity how much does a typical tub re-glazing cost?  I know it probably depends on the condition and all but just looking for a general idea.

I get quotes between $250 and $400 in my area by professionals who specifically do tub refinishing. And that is just for the tub alone, no tile or surround included at that price.  Different areas might get other prices, but since it is a rather long day to do one I doubt you'll find anybody going much less than that. 

Originally posted by @Kyle Doney :

. @mikef I thought the reglazing was supposed to hold up very well. Below is a pic of what I have going on (I don't know why it posted sideways). 

Unless things are different in different parts of the country but I don't think so... if you read the fine print of the warranty of tub reglazers there will be a paragraph about not setting anything on the reglazed bathtub ever again, meaning, no soap, no shampoo bottles etc... this is a pretty good indication of the resilience of the process, they are basically worried about anything on the surface for a long period of time causing moisture issues and bubbling the 'reglaze'. 

Tenants likely aren't going to follow that.

The longest lasting reglazes require a really quality vendor, they must be very conscientious about the surface prep prior to the reglazing. The ones that only last a couple of years are the cheap guys who skimp on the prep, the ones who are diligent will give you a tub finish that will last 5-7 years if you're lucky. But typically it will chip or delaminate in the 4-5 year range, especially if renters are using it as they are going to be rough on it.

The whole "reglazing" term is also a misnomer, because it's not really reglazed,glazed involves a process of dipping the tub in liquid porcelain, the 'reglazing' process is an epoxy spray on system and the mils thickness is nowhere near what the original porcelain glaze is, it's two different animals.

Around here is $400-$500 for a 'reglaze' a bit more if you are changing colors.

for the money to reglaze people have said above, I'd just replace it. 

We've installed 2 of these tubs and have been very happy with the end result.  The last 1 we put in had A LOT of dried thinset, grout, paint, etc in it (damn contractors) and it cleaned up perfectly.  Looked brand new.  I was pissed because I thought for sure it was going to be all scratched up.

http://t.homedepot.com/p/Bootz-Industries-BootzCast-5-ft-Right-Drain-Soaking-Tub-in-White-011-7000-00/100389019/

With the difference in cost between reglazing and replacing, I would honestly just replace it. I had an issue with an old tub from the fifties that had been previously reglazed. I decided to sand some of the glazing off and reglaze it. About 2 to 3 minutes into the process, I decided to run a lead test to see if the previous glazing was lead based... Turned out that the tub itself was lead ceramic! In the end i decided to replace it (obviously). there's not much of a difference in labor between sitting there and sanding and reglazing it, and just replacing it. Plus it will save you the possibility of running into a nightmare like I did..

my buddy owns his own painting company, and it took him almost three coats to get rid of the olive colored tint from his old tub. it cost him a hundred fifty bucks in glaze, and my guess is that it will cost you about the same to get rid of the blue. It only cost me 275 to replace my tub (after tax and including a new overflow drain!), to me it's a no brainer...

Yea looks like replacing it is the way to go here. Thanks everyone. Bye bye blue tub.