Which is for You? There's no question liners are more durable than refinished tubs. Indeed, Re-Bath shows off the resilience of its product in its San Jose, California, showroom by banging them with a hammer. But liners also cost much more -- they run $800 to $1,000 installed. Plus, you'll be given a sales pitch to install panels of acrylic wall liners around the tub. The panels come in as many as 20 colors, with marbleized varieties, too, and run about $150 for an 8-ft. model. Refinishing a tub, on the other hand, costs $200 to $450. Although most customers choose white, refinishing is available at a slightly higher price in virtually any color that paint is, compared with the five or so colors (generally white, almond, biscuit, gray and black) most liner companies offer. The Reglazing Company, in Lubbock, Texas, charges $195, while Surface Doctor, a Colorado Springs, Colorado, refinishing company with 120 franchisees throughout the U.S., charges an average of $345. "We're rarely the cheapest in town," says Chuck Pistor, president of Surface Doctor, "but with no barriers to entry, anyone can say they're a refinisher, and you often get what you pay for." Pistor, in fact, acknowledges that fly-by-night refinishers have tainted the industry's reputation: "People hear stories that it peels, or it won't last," he says. "We have to explain that there are differences among refinishers, and that it's a great product if it's done with the right materials and techniques." Liners have their drawbacks, too, particularly with regard to esthetics. Some people like the clean, simple lines of the liner look, but if you've got an older tub with some character and definition in the skirt, liners have a hard time replicating them. In addition, liners are plastic and they look plastic. And if there is leakage around the liner and water gets under it, it can be squishy and smelly, and difficult to deal with. Warranties vary widely for both products. Grampp Tub Refinishing offers a 5-year limited warranty, while dealers for Luxury Bath Systems are all over the map, offering 3- to 10-year to lifetime warranties. Surface Doctor offers a 5-year warranty on its refinishing, but, says Pistor, "It'll last 10 to 15 years if you take care of it." Warns Luxury's president Davis Glassberg, "Be skeptical of a company that's only been in business six months offering a lifetime guarantee. Also, read the warranty on your contract. What they are covering is just as important as the terms of the warranty. An unconditional warranty is a lot better than a limited one." Both industries shy away from working on fiberglass tubs, and most liner companies won't do jetted tubs, nor will they line claw-foot tubs. Chipped, dented or even rusted-through tubs are no problem, however, but be prepared to pay more if repairs are necessary.
Ask TOH users about Tubs

Contribute to This Story Below