Different Types of Bathtub Liners for a Bathroom Makeover

Amy Pawlukiewicz
Written by Amy Pawlukiewicz
Updated December 21, 2021
Bathroom with double vanity and bathtub
Photo: Bmak / Adobe Stock

Bathtub liners can give your bathroom a facelift without the cost of a full remodel

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If your bathtub is starting to chip and crack, or if you just want a change, a bathtub liner might be a viable option. Instead of replacing or refinishing your bathtub, bath liners go over your tub, molding perfectly to the surface. Here are the different types of bathtub liners and everything you need to know about them.

Types of Bathtub Liners

Bathroom interior with marble floor and bathtub
Photo: Bmak / Adobe Stock

There are three main types of bathtub liners: polyvinyl chloride (PVC), acrylic, and solid surface polymer. They each have their own pros and cons. 

1. PVC

You may have heard of PVC pipes, and PVC liners are made of the same material. They are usually less expensive than the other two types of bathtub liners. Made from a flexible type of plastic, the benefit of PVC material is its durability, and most DIY tub liners are constructed out of this material.

PVC tub liners don’t need any painting or finishing once they’re installed, but they also tend to look like plastic as opposed to acrylic or solid surface, which can look like porcelain. Sometimes a white PVC can yellow over time, making the tub look permanently dirty.

2. Acrylic

Some homeowners prefer acrylic because it has a more attractive appearance than PVC, and it’s not as expensive as solid surface polymer. Acrylic liners come in a wide range of colors and look less like plastic than PVC. The drawback of acrylic is that it has a greater tendency to crack and chip than PVC.

3. Solid Surface Polymer

Solid surface polymer is a blended resin material that can mimic the look of granite or marble. It comes in a bunch of colors and textures and is extremely durable and scratch resistant. If you opt for solid surface for your tub liner, expect to pay more than you would for PVC or acrylic liners. 

Bathtub Liner Considerations

Bathroom with shower and bathtub
Photo: Bmak / Adobe Stock

Review the following details before deciding if a bathtub liner is right for your bathroom and which material to purchase. 

1. Cost

Typically, bathtub liner installation costs around $1,200 but can go as low as $800 and as high as $6,500. The factors that influence the price are:

  • Your location

  • Materials

  • Repair work needed on your existing tub

  • Whether your tub needs a bath fitter wall, which goes over your existing bathroom wall if it’s damaged

2. Pros of Bathtub Liners

Why use a bathtub liner instead of refinishing or replacing your tub? The pros of using a bathtub liner include: 

  • Bathtub liners are a relatively affordable way to get a completely new look without having to replace the whole bathtub

  • You can have them custom-made to perfectly fit your tub. 

  • There is minimal down time because bathtub liner installation is a less time-consuming process than a tub replacement. 

Bathtub liners last for a long time (three to five years), and many come with a lifetime warranty.

3. Cons of Bathtub Liners

Though using a bathtub liner is a good quick fix for a cosmetic problem, there are downsides to this method:

  • Bathtub liners don’t fix any underlying problems with your tub. If there are cracks or the tub is broken, it will have to be repaired. Water can get trapped between the liner and the tub, creating a home for mold and mildew. Not only can mold in your bathroom be hazardous to your health, but it is also costly to remove.

  • They can feel unstable or weak compared to a tub replacement. 

4. Bathtub Liners Aren’t Always Feasible 

Freestanding tubs without surrounding walls are not candidates for bathtub relining. Lining acrylic tubs and fiberglass tubs is also off the table, due to the structure of the materials—molding a liner over these types of tubs would cause them to crack or break. 

If you have a fiberglass, acrylic, cast iron, or steel tub, refinishing or reglazing your tub could be an option for you. 

5. Installation Process

To ensure your tub is structurally sound and looks beautiful, your local bathtub refinishing professional will do the following:

  • Measure your current tub, so the new liner fits perfectly and no water gets trapped between the liner and the existing tub. 

  • Remove all drains, faucets, and handles. 

  • Repair any cracks or chips that could compromise the structural integrity of the tub.

  • Go over the tub with denatured alcohol to ensure that it’s perfectly clean and the adhesive will stick.

  • Cover the surface of the old tub with a combination of butyl tape and silicone adhesive.

  • Attach the liner, make sure it fits firmly, and caulk any seams.

  • Reattach handles, faucets, and drains.

While installation can take several hours (up to six), you can usually use your tub on the same night that it’s installed.

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