Is Refinishing a Bathtub Worth It?

Jenna Jonaitis
Written by Jenna Jonaitis
Updated October 8, 2021
A clawfoot bathtub in a custom bathroom
David Papazian/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Refinishing a bathtub is far less expensive than replacing a tub, but here's how to know if refinishing is best for you

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Say goodbye to a stained, scratched, or dated-looking bathtub by refinishing it. Your tub will look brand new but at a fraction of the cost. On average, the cost to refinish a bathtub is $478 including materials and labor, but the total cost depends on the type, condition, and size of the tub. For comparison, replacing your bathtub costs $3,400 on average, though it can cost up to $13,000 or more for a high-end tub.

You can refinish a tub (also known as resurfacing or reglazing—they’re all the same) if you are an experienced DIYer, but usually it's a job best left to a refinishing pro. Proper preparation and application are essential to a beautiful finish. Without the right care and application, you could damage your tub's surface.

Cost of Refinishing vs. Replacing a Bathtub

Refinishing a bathtub can save you hundreds or thousands on replacing a bathtub. On average, the cost to refinish a bathtub is $478, but projects range from $335 to $638. Materials usually run $30 to $150 and labor can be anywhere from $200 to $500, depending on where you live.

The average cost of a bathtub replacement is $3,400, but the job can cost anywhere from $1,400 to $7,000. Replacement costs include additional expenses outside installation, like removing and disposing of your old tub. You may also need to hire a plumber if your new tub doesn’t fit with the old plumbing fixtures. You may also need to retile the walls or floors if the bathtub is a different size or shape than the original. In the end, you could spend thousands of dollars replacing a $400 bathtub.

When to Refinish vs. Replace Your Tub

In most cases, refinishing a bathtub is the best option. Almost all tub styles can be refinished, including cast iron, steel, acrylic, fiberglass, and porcelain tubs.

Refinishing a bathtub is worth it if:

  • you like the style of your bathtub, but it needs a fresh look.

  • you’re selling your home and want to update your bathroom.

  • your bathtub is in solid condition except for minor scratches or stains.

  • your bathtub is an antique or a style no longer made, making it difficult to replace.

  • you have a cast iron bathtub that is heavy and expensive to dispose of.

  • you don’t need to replace or update your plumbing.

If your old bathtub leaks or is seriously damaged or cracked, it may be better to replace your tub than refinish it. If you need to fix bathroom pipes or plumbing, it makes sense to replace your tub at the same time. Find a local bathtub replacement contractor to give you a quote.

Instead of refinishing, you could also install a tub liner on top of your existing tub. The average cost to install a bathtub liner is $3,400 but can range from $1,800 to $5,100.

If you’re not sure if you should refinish your bathtub or replace it, ask a bathtub refinisher near you for an onsite consultation. They can inspect your tub and help you determine if you should refinish or replace it.

What Is Bathtub Refinishing and How Long Does It Take?

A modern bathtub in a bright bathroom
Paul Bradbury/OJO Images via Getty Images

Bathtub refinishing involves sanding the surface, filling in cracks, applying primer and paint, then buffing. Refinishing your tub repairs small dents and scratches, and gives the surface a fresh glossy look. The whole process, while tricky, usually takes a day or less. It’s usually best to hire a bathtub refinisher to get the job done right, especially if you have an antique tub. Refinishers can also help with custom color matches so the finish doesn't look painted on, or they can help you choose a new color.

If you decide to tackle the project yourself, be sure to wear the right protective equipment and learn how to properly refinish a bathtub. Refinishing a tub carries health risks due to the harmful chemicals in the new coating.

FAQs About Bathtub Refinishing

What other projects should I do at the same time?

If you’re refinishing your tub, take advantage of the makeover and paint the bathtub as well. It’s an easy way to give your tub a whole new look.

Does bathtub refinishing really work?

Yes, bathtub refinishing really works to give your tub a brand new look and repair minor damages. You won’t be able to tell the difference between a professionally refinished bathtub and a brand new one.

How long does reglazing a bathtub last?

Reglazing a bathtub usually lasts up to 15 years and has the same durability as a brand new tub. To maintain its longevity, clean your tub properly and avoid using abrasive cleaners.

What is the difference between reglazing and refinishing a bathtub?

There is no difference between reglazing and refinishing a bathtub—they both mean the same thing. Refinishing or reglazing a tub involves making repairs, sanding the surface, and applying a new coat (usually in three phases).

Is reglazing a bathtub a good idea?

Reglazing a bathtub is usually a good idea if your bathtub is in good condition and you like the style, as it can save you hundreds or thousands on a tub replacement. By reglazing, you also won’t have to mess with replacing or upgrading your plumbing.

What are the benefits of doing bathtub resurfacing?

The benefits of doing bathtub resurfacing are that your tub looks brand new, scratches and chips are repaired, your tub has increased durability, and you save money on a bathtub replacement.

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