If you are remodeling your bathroom, you can save a tremendous amount of money by refinishing your bathtub instead of going for a replacement.
However, a few factors may come into play to make you wonder if a second and even third coat of finish is possible.
Hence, Can A Bathtub Be Refinished Twice?
Absolutely. Virtually all types of bathtubs and all kinds of finishes can take a second (sometimes even a third) coat. One major bottleneck may stand in the way – the underlying finish may not be the perfect surface for adhering to a new coat of finish. The first finish adheres the best, meaning the quality declines with increasing layers of subsequent coats. If the original/current finish shows obvious wear, even if you don’t use the tub frequently, chances are it was applied poorly or wasn’t allowed to dry properly after application. In that case, you might need to remove the flawed finish first before anything otherwise the new coat will be flawed as well.
A Fistful Of Bathtubs Can’t Be Refinished Twice
The rule of thumb here is, most reglazed tubs (I’ll use ‘refinish’ and ‘reglaze’ interchangeably, it’s the same thing) can be reglazed again one more time.
But there is a group of few tubs that won’t take the second refinish.
For example, if the initial reglazing job was poorly done that it left noticeable damages on the surface, an additional refinish will worsen the situation so you’d rather not go down that road.
That’s one of the many reasons why you should only hire an experienced professional to work on your reglazing projects.
Beware! It’s A Bit Laborious Even If Refinishable At All
Refinishing your tub for the first time is easy but the exercise becomes laborious past that point. And that’s if it can be refinished at all.
Preparation for the next coat is no joke. It must be applied with durability and quality in mind while also considering the state of the current coat.
For example, if your current coat is chipping or peeling, you will need to remove the whole mess carefully without damaging the tub. Any major existing issues must be repaired as well.
Furthermore, if the current finish is flawless, you will still need to clean it thoroughly to remove all the stains before letting it dry entirely.
Tubs made from easily chipping materials such as ceramic, porcelain, and cultured marble are the hardest (hence most expensive) to prepare for reglazing.
Preparation typically takes two routes: the use of harsh cleaning chemicals and investing in a quality reglazing kit (your reglazing professional may come with the latter).
Of course, most of the clearing chemicals work together with solvents, making this route complicated (you might ruin your tub if you are not careful). Reglazing kits deserve care as well.
Either way, you will need to ventilate your bathroom the entire time and invest in quality eye protection, respirator, and heavy-duty gloves.
All these will impact the cost and time dedicated to the whole project.
Is It Worth It?
Yes, and no – it will depend on your intention.
Refinishing is perfect for covering minor flaws on your tub. It is a temporary fix but can serve as a way of improving the appearance (a new coat of finish lasts between 10 – 15 years ONLY with good care).
Bad maintenance reduces the durability to 3 – 5 years on average. In the beginning, we mentioned how some tubs won’t take a second finish, so you better get it right and take good care of it thereafter.
Look at it as adding a coat of fresh nail polish on not-so-good-looking nails. The nails will look great at the start but will wear off slowly as you go about with your daily chores, eventually requiring a new coat.
So, reglazing is perfect if you are looking for a short-term solution to minor imperfections or improving the look of the tub.
If you are looking for a long-lasting solution to tub imperfections, go for a liner (more on this later).
In terms of upfront cost, refinishing is the cheapest way to improve your tub.
Reglazing costs fall anywhere in the brackets of $300 – $600 depending on where you live and the state of the tub.
If it is badly stained and dingy or has rust and deep cracks, you will spend more on both the materials and a well-trained professional.
OK – What Are The Benefits Of Refinishing Your Tub For A Second Time?
Many people like to think of it as a renovation method but, to be precise, reglazing is a way of hiding minor flaws, and it’s cheap as dirt compared to other improvement projects you could do on your tub.
Additionally, it’s faster – a typical reglazing project takes a day to complete (minus preparations).
How About The Drawbacks? Any?
There are plenty of them. Firstly, the materials used to etch the surface and apply the finish are often toxic. So you will need to ventilate the space appropriately and even leave the home unused for a day or two.
Secondly, as mentioned before, you just have one shot at it (maximum two in most cases). This means you need to be super cautious to apply the perfect coat on the first attempt.
Thirdly and lastly, bad weather may get in the way of better drying. Humidity is bad for this exercise, so you better leave it for the summer to avoid the following:
- Tacky or sticky feel
- Rough texture – a symptom of poorly prepared surface and rushed drying
- Fading – sometimes evidence of an overly thin coat, it is commonly associated with a poorly cured coat.
- Numerous tiny bubbles – these are perhaps the surest evidence the coat didn’t cure properly.
What’s The Best Alternative To Refinishing?
Complete tub replacement is costlier and even more laborious, so I’d recommend a liner.
Tub liners are made of acrylic or PVC, so they are basically a plastic replica of your tub.
A typical lining job, as you’d expect, starts with a thorough cleaning of the surface followed by the application of a fine layer of glue.
The best thing about liners is that, unlike refinishing, you can choose from a range of skirt styles and colors.
It is also easier and cheap to apply but compared to refining. Installation normally takes 2 – 3 days although the entire process lasts for over 2 months.
Unlike refinishing which is highly invasive, you don’t need to scrub the existing finish to apply your liner.
On the flipside, liners only mimic what you had at the beginning although you can have a new color.
Also, note that liners are only cheaper than refinishing if you go for the cheapest material on offer. Top-tier liners can cost anything between $1,500 and $4000 to apply.
So, can a bathtub be refinished twice? Yes, certainly.
One issue may stand in the way though – the underlying finish may not be the perfect surface for adhering to a new coat of finish.
If the original or current finish shows obvious wear, even if you don’t use the tub frequently, chances are it was applied poorly or wasn’t allowed to dry properly after applications.