Sat Jul 08 2023

Bathtub Liners vs. Refinishing – Which Is “The” Best in 2023

Bathtub Liners vs. Refinishing – Which Is “The” Best in 2023

Are bathtub liners the best in 2023?


Or is refinishing your bathtub the most efficient way to go?

Bathtubs are a great tool, where you can submerge yourself and rest easy for a long time. Destressing is important in our lives since we are living in a world where we are running and completing numerous daily tasks. Some can afford luxurious vacations, but others cannot. In truth, it is unnecessary to have a vacation to destress. A simple tool, like a bathtub, can get the job done perfectly. But, if you want the best experience, it is necessary to have a best-in-condition bathtub. 


Bathtubs are an investment, and have a good amount of life (usually around 10-15 years) depending on the type of bathtub material. Over time, like all things, bathtubs also tend to wear out. It is possible to get extra life from the bathtub and the ways to do that are:

  • Bathtub liners
  • Bathtub refinishing


Two methods, so which one is the best? We will discuss the two methods and come to a conclusion about which one is the best.

Bathtub Refinishing – What Is It?

Bathtub refinishing. From the name, we can interpret that this is the process of refinishing the surface of your existing bathtub and bringing back its old glory. It may sound simple, but it is actually a multi-step process, which involves the following:

  • Cleaning the bathtub and its surroundings.
  • Sanding the surface to remove any structural imperfections.
  • Coating the bathtub with special coating/paint.

How To Refinish a Bathtub

As said, the process is multi-step and requires general knowledge about the bathtub and the overall plumbing. The first step in the bathtub refinishing process is to completely clean the bathtub. Ensure there is no dirt and debris on the surface of the bathtub and surroundings. Properly cleaning the bathtub always results in a very good life. This is also the step where you can strip off the imperfections (such as existing paint skin or any surface imperfections) using a razor.

NOTE: Be careful when using any sharp objects. Wear gloves and other protective gear when working on your bathtub.


After removing the imperfections, clean it again with an all-green bathtub cleaner, and make sure to get the surrounding areas, including the drain, shower (if present), and the faucet system. 


Once you are done cleaning, completely dry off the bathtub. Use paper towels to dry off the bathtub and ensure there is no moisture on the bathtub’s surface. Now, for the next step, which is sanding. Even though you would have used the razor to remove any surface imperfections, there might be small burrs (surface imperfections), which cannot be removed using the razor. This is where the sandpaper comes into the picture. Sandpaper with specific grit (40) can help to even the surface and make it perfect for bathtub refinishing. 


Tip: Use wet sandpaper to remove any burrs (surface imperfections). This saves the surface from getting scratched.


Once you are done with the sanding, it is time to coat the surface with a special surface finish. There are DIY kits available online and in your local hardware store. Check the type of bathtub material and for that particular material choose the best DIY bathtub refinishing kit for your bathtub. 


Apply the coating per the instructions provided in the refinishing kit. Let the coating dry for at least 24 hrs or the time mentioned on the DIY kit. 


Now, your bathtub looks and functions as new!

Benefits of Bathtub Refinishing


    1. The first benefit is, there is no need for demolition. Bathtub replacements are common if the bathtubs are old and damaged. One of the biggest headaches regarding bathtub replacement is the higher chance of demolition (based on the type of bathtub, like The alcove bathtub). But, with bathtub refinishing, you don’t have to worry about demoing your bathroom floor (which involves a high cost of repair).
  • Disposing of your old bathtub is not needed when it comes to bathtub refinishing. As said, when it comes to bathtub replacement, disposing of your old bathtub can be extra work. You have to ensure that, you are removing your old bathtub properly without damaging the floor and sending it to the recycling center. Installing a new bathtub is already a lengthy process and can be difficult sometimes. Still, bathtub refinishing helps you to avoid all these problems and even saves a considerable amount of money in the process. 
    1. You can do it by yourself. Replacing and installing a new bathtub can be quite demanding and may require more than one or two people with plumbing knowledge. This can cost you a lot of money on top of buying a new bathtub. For bathtub refinishing, there are DIY kits available in local hardware stores or even online stores and these can be simple yet effective to use on your bathtub to make it like new again. And these kits can cost 1/10 of the installation and other plumbing charges for your bathtub. 

    Disadvantages of Bathtub Refinishing

    Bathtub refinishing may be cost-effective, but it does come with some disadvantages that you should know. 


    1. One of the advantages of bathtub refinishing is the DIY process, but this DIY process does have its disadvantages, such as odor and harmful gases during the finishing process. This can be eliminated by wearing gloves and a mask to avoid any accidents. 
    2. Improper refinishing, can lead to severe chipping and peeling of the bathtub’s surface. It is better to read the instructions carefully before starting DIY projects. 
    3. Without proper refinishing, it can affect the tile grout. Tile grout is responsible for providing resistance to water and also reinforcing the bathroom floor. There is a high chance that more finishing spray can be spilled on the tile grout if you are not careful. This can be avoided by placing a sheet of plastic on the working floor to carry out the bathtub refinishing. 


    Now that you have a general idea of what bathtub refinishing is, and its advantages and disadvantages, it is time to look at bathtub liners.

    Bathtub Liners – What Are They?

    Bathtub liners are solid structures made of vacuumed acrylic or PVC sheets and are manufactured in such a way that they fit perfectly on the contours of your bathtub. Imagine that there is a smaller version of your existing bathtub which is then fitted into your existing bathtub to make it as new and sturdy as possible. Bathtub liners are much different from bathtub refinishing, which usually involves spraying and cleaning the surface of your bathtub. 

    How To Place Bathtub Liners

    First, before placing the bathtub liners, the professionals measure your existing bathtub. This helps to find the best-fitting bathtub liners for your bathtub. Also, take photos of your bathtub and send them to the company (bathtub’s company) to get the exact measurement and learn the type of bathtub (as well as accessing the damage). Once the company gets all the necessary data, it starts working on creating the bathtub liners. Usually, as said above, bathtub liners are made of vacuumed pressed acrylic or PVC sheets and then processed into the mold of your existing bathtub. 


    You may think of the bathtub liners as “gloves” or a “dress” that slips on your existing old bathtub. Once the professionals obtain the bathtub liners, it is time to install it. The first step is to clean the bathtub completely and ensure that it is completely free from any dirt or debris. For this purpose, professionals tend to use cleaning alcohol (denatured alcohol), and remove fixtures, and drains (both the bathtub drain and the overflow drain). The next step is to check whether the factory-ready liner is fitted into the tub. If not, the professional trims the bathtub liner to make it fit into the bathtub. 


    The last step is to stick the liner onto the bathtub, and this is where the silicone adhesive or sometimes double-sided butyl tape comes into the picture. It is used to attach the bathtub liners against the bathtub surface. Once the liner is installed, is time to reinstall the fixtures and drains. 


    The total time taken to complete the project can vary from three-six weeks. This includes the manufacturing of the bathtub liners and the installation process.

    Benefits of Bathtub Liners

    1. The first benefit is life. The life provided by the bathtub liner is much higher than the bathtub refinishing. Generally bathtub liners can last between three-five years depending on the condition (both the bathtub and the bathroom).
    2. Same as the bathtub refinishing, there is no need for demolition of your old bathtub, since we are installing the bathtub liners over the existing bathtub’s surface. This can save a lot of money on the “revamping your bathtub” project.
    3. Also there is no need for disposal, since as said we are working on the existing bathtub. This saves you a lot of trouble in your project.
    4. There is no need to worry about harmful gases or odors during the project, since there won’t be any painting or resurfacing during the bathtub liner installation process. 
    5. Last but least, you can use the bathtub as soon as the installation process is done. There is no need for the “marination” time like the bathtub refinishing process. 

    Disadvantages of Bathtub Liners

      1. The first disadvantage is the cost of the bathtub liners. Comparatively bathtub liners are more expensive than the normal bathtub refinishing process. The result is substantially better than bathtub refinishing, but if you are constrained on your budget, bathtub liners may not be a suitable choice for you. 
      2. Bathroom size gets reduced. You are fitting a layer (PVC or acrylic sheets) over the existing bathtub. This increases the thickness of the bathtub and ultimately reduces the space in your bathroom. This makes it difficult to move if you have a smaller bathroom.
  • Great chance of water damage. Bathtub liners are known for their bad adaptability of water leakage, which mainly occurs between the old tub and new liners. This leads to the formation of mildew and molds. Ultimately, there is a good chance that you might face the replacement of the bathtub situation sooner rather than later.
  • Bathtub liners are brittle in nature. Unlike reinforced acrylic bathtubs, bathtub liners are made of vacuumed acrylic sheets, which may not be as strong as the reinforced ones. This results in cracking over a period of time. 
  • FAQs

  • Is a bathtub liner a good idea?
  • The answer is, yes. A bathtub liner is a very good idea to get more life out of your bathtub. If it is installed properly and with proper maintenance, there is a possibility of getting an extra lifespan of five to seven years and maybe even ten years.

  • What is the average cost of a bathtub liner?
  • The average cost of a bathtub liner can vary from $2000–$3500, depending on the type and size of the bathtub. 

  • How long do the bathtub liners last?
  • The average lifespan of a bathtub liner is from three to four years. But, with proper maintenance and if the installation goes according to plan, you can expect your bathtub to last for five or six more years. 

    Final Thoughts

    Bathtub liners or bathtub refinishing, which is the best? The answer is it depends. If you have enough legroom in your budget, and can also wait for weeks to get the best result possible, a bathtub liner is the best approach. It provides a longer life. On the other hand, if you have a constraint on your budget and want the result sooner, bathtub refinishing is the way to go. The process is simple and can be done easily by yourself. It can also last two to three years easily if proper maintenance is carried out. 


    But sometimes, it is necessary to replace your bathtub, and it can be quite confusing because of the variety of collections. Magnus Home products can help you to choose the best bathtub for your home. You can access the collection here


    This article hopes to give enough information about the bathtub liners and bathtub refinishing, to help you choose the best option for your home!