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Bathtub refinishing typically costs $335 to $628 with a national average of $481.* Compare that to full bathtub replacement, which costs into the thousands. If your bathtub is beginning to show its age, you don’t necessarily need to replace it. Refinishing your tub can renew its look and function at a fraction of the cost. This process involves removing and replacing the top layer of a tub’s finish and repairing cosmetic issues such as chips, cracks, and scratches. Your tub’s structure needs to be in good condition, but refinishing can extend its life span.
We’ll go over various factors that affect refinishing prices below.
*All cost data sourced from Home Advisor and Fixr.
Bathtub Refinishing Cost Factors
The total cost of your refinishing project depends primarily on your existing tub’s material, type, and condition.
Cost by Tub Material
Most bathtub materials can be refinished, but they require different processes. Acrylic and fiberglass tubs are lightweight, so they need to be refinished carefully to prevent cracks. Cast iron and steel are typically coated with a layer of enamel or porcelain, and these materials are fairly easy to refinish. Solid porcelain usually means the tub is an antique that’s more than 100 years old, which requires specialty service.
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Enameled steel tub
Cast iron tub
Cost by Tub Type
The type of bathtub determines how much surface area needs refinishing. A small alcove tub will be inexpensive because the interior space is small and only one exterior surface needs refinishing. A tub-shower combo will be costly if the tub and surrounds are a single piece and must be refinished together. A clawfoot tub will cost less if only the interior is covered in enamel, but these tubs are typically so deep and spacious that the job will be expensive if the entire thing is covered in enamel or porcelain.
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Cost by Tub Condition
The better condition your tub is in, the less it will cost to refinish. Small chips, cracks, or scratches are easy to cover and require less materials and labor. Large chips can cost $100 to $300 each to repair. Gouges and large cracks may not be repairable and may require tub replacement instead.
About $200 to $400 of the cost of refinishing services goes to labor. Prices may increase if the tub is difficult to access or if there are complicating factors, such as poor ventilation. The refinishing process itself takes two to five hours, though you’ll likely have to wait 24 to 48 hours before you can use the tub again.
Additional Factors Affecting Bathtub Refinishing Cost
Refinishing might not be the best approach to fix your bathtub. Learn about other options below.
Some people use the term “refinishing” to refer to multiple methods of renewing a bathtub’s surface. In the narrowest sense, refinishing involves sanding down the tub, filling small chips and cracks, and adding new coats of primer, paint, or epoxy. Sometimes this is also called bathtub reglazing, but other people use the term “reglazing” to refer to a more involved process or only the final step of refinishing. Usually, bathtub resurfacing, refinishing, reglazing, and recoating are all the same thing.
However, this is not the only way to add a new finish to an old tub. A bathtub liner is an acrylic sheet that’s vacuum-shaped to fit your existing tub’s interior. It covers more severe cracks and gouges than refinishing, and the same sheet will mold to the tub surrounds, meaning you won’t need to pay for tile refinishing. Adding a liner is much more expensive and time-consuming than refinishing, usually costing $2,518 to $9,294. If the tub liner adhesion isn’t done properly, it can cause further problems, so professional installation is recommended.
Another option is a tub inlay. Tub inlays are acrylic sheets that cover cracks or stains at the bottom of the tub only. They’re typically sold in do-it-yourself (DIY) kits that most homeowners can use themselves for about $100.
Repair vs. Replacement
Although tub reglazing is less expensive than buying and installing a new tub, it can only repair minor cosmetic damage, not serious cracks and leaks. If your tub is in poor condition, you can either have it fitted for a liner or purchase an entirely new tub. Professional bathtub installation costs $1,500 to $10,000, with an average cost of $3,000. The price will be higher if you need to alter your plumbing or bathroom layout to fit the new tub.
Common tub colors and finishes don’t come with an extra charge, but if you’ve got your heart set on an unusual choice, it may cost extra. Opting for a bath liner allows you to add accessories such as built-in shelves and niches for an additional fee. Some liners are also available in textures that mimic tile, natural stone, or other tub materials. These will typically cost more than the basic liner model.
Professional vs. DIY Bathtub Refinishing
Many home improvement retailers sell DIY tub refinishing kits, but this may not be the best approach. Compare your options below.
Professional Bathtub Refinishing
A bathtub refinishing company will know the best materials to use and how to apply them. A professional will also know how to fill in chips and cracks for the most attractive results. The downside of professional refinishing is a higher total cost.
DIY Bathtub Refinishing
You can save on labor costs by purchasing a DIY kit, but you’re unlikely to get the same results as a professional. These kits include sandpaper and chemicals to etch the tub’s surface, epoxy or enamel-based paint, and rollers to apply two coats of it. These kits cost anywhere from $30 to $150, but they require you to work quickly before the epoxy dries. You’ll also need to make sure you have plenty of ventilation to protect your lungs.
How to Reduce Bathtub Refinishing Costs
Follow these tips to minimize costs on your bathtub refinishing project.
- If you feel confident in your DIY skills, opt for a refinishing or inlay kit that you can apply yourself.
- Choose standard colors and finishes when possible, particularly for tub liners.
- Balance short-term and long-term costs. If a refinishing job isn’t going to last long or fix all the issues with your tub, a liner or new tub may be a better choice.
- Save on a bathroom remodel by bundling several jobs to reduce labor costs. Ask what other renovations the contractor offers.
- Get quotes from at least three bathtub refinishing companies to compare prices.
Signs You Need to Refinish Your Bathtub
Filling in small chips and cracks can stop them from growing larger and causing more serious structural damage to your tub. If you’re not sure whether your bathtub could benefit from refinishing or reglazing, look for the following signs.
Chipping and Scratches
With regular use, a bathtub will pick up small scratches and chips from dropped tools or abrasive cleaners. These are typically cosmetic problems rather than issues that could compromise the tub’s function, but anything that interrupts the tub’s smooth surface can harbor dirt and bacteria.
Hard water, hair dye, chemicals, and bath bombs can all leave stains in the tub’s finish that cleaning won’t remove. Reglazing involves taking off the top layer of finish and covering it, so any discolorations will be removed.
Peeling or Bubbling Paint
Bubbling or peeling paint will only get worse as more water or air is able to get beneath the tub’s finish. As with scratches, peels in the paint can create a home for dirt and bacteria.
Bathtubs made of steel or cast iron have a porcelain or enamel coating, but rust can begin to form if that coating chips or cracks. Rust often spreads, compromising large areas of the finish if it isn’t caught and removed quickly. Similarly, iron pipes can create rust deposits on a tub’s finish over time. Refinishing will get rid of this rust.
Gray or discolored spots may indicate that water is seeping behind the finish of a bathtub. Over time, this will compromise the entire finish of the tub and possibly the structure.
How to Hire a Professional
Consider the following factors when looking for a professional bathtub refinisher.
- Tub reglazing doesn’t require special licensure, but all contractors should be bonded and insured.
- Make sure the contractor has experience with the type of refinishing or lining you want.
- Ask if there are extra fees for grout removal or caulking reapplication.
- Ask what, if any, prep work or cleaning are included in the price.
- Check out the contractor’s Better Business Bureau page as well as customer reviews on Trustpilot and Google.
- Ask about warranties on workmanship.
If your tub is aging and needs a new look, consider refinishing it instead of replacing it. This won’t repair structural issues with an old bathtub, but if your tub has minor cosmetic damage, reglazing can allow you to reallocate money for other bathroom remodeling costs. Check out our guide to bathroom renovation ideas for inspiration on your next project.
Bathtub Refinishing FAQ
Is it worth it to refinish a bathtub?
It can be worth it to refinish a bathtub if there’s only minor cosmetic damage. This is a more cost-effective alternative to adding a liner or installing a new tub. However, refinishing won’t fix significant damage.
How long does a bathtub reglazing last?
Professional bathtub reglazing can last 10 to 15 years. DIY reglazing jobs usually last only three to four years.
What’s the difference between refinishing, reglazing, and resurfacing a bathtub?
Most of the time, refinishing, reglazing, and resurfacing refer to the same process of stripping a bathtub’s outer finish and replacing it. Some use the term “reglazing” to refer to either the final step of the refinishing process or a more thorough refinishing project.
Is it cheaper to replace or refinish a bathtub?
It’s cheaper to refinish a bathtub than to replace it. Refinishing costs an average of $481, whereas bathtub replacement averages $3,000. Other alternatives like installing a tub liner cost about the same as a new tub.