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Bathtub Refinishing Cost

The average cost of refinishing a bathtub is $300-$600.

In this guide

Signs that a tub needs refinishing
Refinish process
Labor costs
Maintenance
Refinishing vs replacing a tub
Bathtub liner
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to refinish your bathtub?

Bathtubs are an integral part of most bathrooms, used for soaking, showering, and bathing. While newer tubs are available in acrylic, older tubs are made of cast iron, which is covered with a thin glaze of porcelain. Over time, that coating can chip or wear away.

Refinishing your cast iron tub is a great alternative to purchasing a new one and is done fairly quickly. The extent of the refinishing can vary, but most homeowners find that they spend between $350 and $600 for the job.

Signs that a tub needs refinishing

Not all tubs actually need refinishing. Some older tubs just need a lot of scouring powder, bleach, and elbow 1 grease to remove discolorations to bring back the original color.

Some tubs, however, require a complete refinish to look their best. These tubs usually show their original cast iron through the glaze. This could be in the form of a chip in the finish or an area where the finish has worn away from use.

Because iron can rust, another sign is rust stains or streaking inside the tub or rust stains showing through the exterior painted finish.

Refinish process

Refinishing a tub does not take long or involve much effort. First, the old finish is usually etched or scratched up to help the new finish adhere. If there are chips or high and low areas in the existing finish, the etching may be more involved to help level out the surface. Etching can be done through sandblasting or through the application of chemicals, depending on the company and the methods used.

Next, a primer 2 is applied to the tub. This is usually a form of epoxy 3, which is incredibly durable and helps bond the surface of the tub to the ultimate finish.

Finally, a high-gloss surface material, usually with an acrylic base for the longest-lasting finish, is applied to the tub. These two surfaces are usually sprayed on to ensure an even coat with the surrounding area taped off to protect from overspray.

If you have an acrylic tub, the true refinishing process cannot be used. Acrylic does not stain or rust nor does it chip. However, it can scratch or discolor. If the finish dulls, it is sometimes possible to apply a gel coat to the tub to temporarily restore the finish. This is usually a DIY job and involves painting an acrylic gel onto the tub and letting it cure for about 24 hours. This is not to be confused with a factory finish “gel coat” that is applied to new, fiberglass 4 bathtubs to give them a glossy finish. A true refinishing of an acrylic tub cannot be done the way it can on cast iron, but an application of DIY gel coat can prolong its life and restore some shine.

Labor costs

The majority of the cost of refinishing the tub is due to the amount of labor involved. Very damaged tubs may require more effort, which can drive up the cost. In addition, some homeowners may wish to have the exterior of the tub refinished as well. Changing the color of the tub necessitates refinishing the entire thing. Common costs for the refinishing of a tub range from $350 to $600 but may go as high as $900 for very damaged tubs.

Maintenance

Your new finish will be durable and long-lasting, but to make the most of it, you should treat it with care. Because the new finish will likely be made of a blend of epoxies and acrylics, it needs to be cleaned with a soft cloth and non-abrasive cleaners. Do not use harsh chemicals or green scouring pads on the finish because this could scratch it. Instead, use a soft cloth or microfiber towel and a non-abrasive bathroom cleaner to keep it clean.

Refinishing vs replacing a tub

If you have a newer bathtub, made of acrylic or fiberglass, then replacing it probably makes the most sense. These materials cannot be refinished in the same way, are fairly inexpensive, and are light enough to remove and replace.

However, old cast iron tubs are very heavy as well as more expensive. Removing one is a labor-intensive process that necessitates remodeling half your bathroom at the same time. If the only issue in the bathroom is cosmetic and you are not remodeling, then refinishing your existing tub will be the least expensive option, $350 to $600 instead of $2,500 for a new tub installation.

Bathtub liner

If you have an acrylic or fiberglass tub or the surround of your tub is damaged as well as the tub itself, you may find that rather than refinishing the tub, you can give the entire tub and shower surround a tub liner. These one or two-piece units fit directly over your existing tub and surround and cover them. The damage is still there but hidden. This gives your bathroom a clean, new look without the expense or time of a full bathroom or shower remodel. In many cases, you can use your existing hardware.

A full bathtub and wall surround system costs around $1,100 to $1,400 on average but can go higher if you add in extras like soap dishes or towel rails 5. You can also get a bathtub-only liner for around $600 if the walls are in good condition.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Faucet or drain replacement

It is typical to replace any faucets or drains at the time you refinish the tub. Expect to add another $500 to $1,500 in plumbing costs to the project if you decide to replace them.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Before refinishing your tub, make sure that the existing plumbing is in good shape or that you have purchased new plumbing. In some cases, it may need to be removed to finish the tub. If this is the case, your refinisher will let you know.
  • The new finish needs to cure for a minimum of 24 hours before the tub can be used. Make other arrangements if this is the only tub in the home.
  • High humidity levels can make the finish cure more slowly, particularly in the summer months. This may mean the tub needs an additional day to cure or that you need a dehumidifier running in the bathroom. This issue is not typically a concern during the winter months.
  • Epoxy 3 and acrylic, as well as the etching chemicals, emit high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when they are applied and during curing. If possible, open a window to the bathroom or run a fan to help clear it out. Very sensitive individuals may want to use a mask or leave the house until the finish cures.
  • Your new finish should last many years, and your tub can be refinished several times. After two or three times, however, it may require additional work to strip the older layers from the tub before applying the new finish.
  • Fiberglass 4 bathtubs cannot be refinished, and acrylic tubs can only be given a temporary glossy top coat. Only cast iron tubs can truly be refinished.
  • Refinishing a tub does not increase the value of your home, but it helps maintain its value. For this reason, you may find that your home sells more easily if the tub is in good condition.

FAQ

  • Is it worth refinishing a bathtub?

Refinishing a tub can be a cost-effective alternative to replacing a tub, saving you well over $1,000.

  • Can you refinish a clawfoot tub?

As long as the tub is cast iron, it can be refinished inside and out. 

  • Does bathtub refinishing last?

When done correctly, bathtub refinishing lasts for several years to decades when well-maintained. ​

  • How long does a bathtub reglazing last?

New bathtub finishes are designed to be long-lasting and can last up to 10 years when well-maintained.

  • How do I clean a reglazed bathtub?

Use a soft cloth and non-abrasive cleaners to care for a reglazed bathtub. 

  • How long do you have to wait after reglazing your tub to use it?

The new finish needs to cure for a minimum of 24 hours after application before using the tub. 

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Elbow 1 Elbow: An L-shaped fitting used to connect two straight pipes to enable their flow to go around a corner
glossary term picture Primer 2 Primer: Preparatory coat applied to materials (drywall, wood, metal, etc.) before painting to ensure paint adhesion, extend paint durability, and help seal and protect the surface to be painted
glossary term picture Epoxy 3 Epoxy: An adhesive, plastic, paint, or other material made from polymers containing epoxide groups. Epoxy is best used for bonding or for creating a protective coating
glossary term picture Fiberglass 4 Fiberglass: Plastic that is reinforced with glass fibers. The fibers may be mixed randomly throughout the plastic, or come in the form of a flat sheet, or be woven into a fabric
5 Rails: A long bar designed for a person to hold onto, giving them support. They are usually found on the sides of staircases, and can also be found in bathrooms, for example, to help persons with disabilities

Cost to refinish your bathtub varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

picture related to the guide

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Akron, OH
-6%
Allen, TX
+23%
Athens, GA
-9%
Austin, TX
+13%
Baldwin, NY
+31%
Bellmore, NY
+31%
Bethlehem, PA
+12%
Birmingham, AL
+6%
Boca Raton, FL
0%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Chico, CA
-14%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Columbia, SC
-10%
Dayton, OH
-7%
Dennis, MA
+5%
Dexter, MO
-38%
Dodgeville, WI
-16%
El Cajon, CA
+8%
Flint, MI
-4%
Greensboro, NC
-9%
Houston, TX
+24%
Huntington Beach, CA
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
La Habra, CA
+19%
Lansdowne, PA
+26%
Livonia, MI
+16%
Long Beach, CA
+16%
Lynn, MA
+19%
Mahwah, NJ
+27%
Manchester, NH
+33%
Mesick, MI
-40%
Milwaukee, WI
+12%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
Montgomery, AL
-10%
Naperville, IL
+47%
New Haven, CT
+22%
New York, NY
+77%
Oakland, CA
+36%
Ocean City, MD
-25%
Parsippany, NJ
+31%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Phoenix, AZ
0%
Pittsburgh, PA
+9%
Racine, WI
-7%
Raleigh, NC
-3%
Reading, PA
+4%
Santa Clara, CA
+33%
Sartell, MN
-15%
Seattle, WA
+9%
Labor cost in your zip code
Last modified:   
Methodology and sources