How to Refinish a Porcelain Bathtub
LESLIE: Beth in Georgia is working on a reglazing project in a bathtub. Tell us how it’s going.
BETH: I have had my bathtub, what they call refinished, twice. It’s an original tub. The house is 40 years old. It’s iron with porcelain.
BETH: And they basically etched it and then sprayed a new surface on. And I was wondering if this is the same thing as reglazing and if so, I haven’t had any luck. It’s peeled up both times, so what are my other options?
TOM: Hmm. OK, did you have a company come in and do this for you?
BETH: Yes, two different ones.
TOM: Yeah. It’s hard to get this done and have it really last, I will say. I’ve seen it done a number of different ways but typically what happens is they put on an acid etch and it’s a very corrosive process. I mean the folks that do this have to be well-protected; not only their arms and their eyes and things like that but also their breathing, because you have to really etch that old surface and with a very corrosive material.
And then once that is etched, they essentially prime it and the primer is usually sprayed on and then the topcoat is sprayed on. And if it’s done well, you might get five years out of it but then you have to do it again. It’s never, ever going to be as good as an original surface of the tub.
BETH: I guess what happened, in my case, was that it was etched. I’m not sure if they did the primer stage but it only lasted – the new surface they put on only lasted two months each time and then it would start peeling up right at the drain, both times.
TOM: Yeah, that’s not right. That’s not right. Now, did the glazer come back and redo it?
BETH: Well, they put a guarantee – a nine-year guarantee – and when I called them back in two months, their number has been disconnected.
LESLIE: Oh, wasn’t that nice of them?
BETH: Oh, that was my second time around, so I kind of gave up. But I still have the bathtub. It has tile around it and a tile floor. I can’t really afford to tear out all the tile and put a new tub in.
BETH: So I just wondered if there were any other options for me.
TOM: Well, you could have a tub insert made; that’s another way that this is done. There are a number of companies that make those. They fit inside the old tubs. They tend to make the tub a little smaller, as a result, and they’re not inexpensive. But …
LESLIE: But they’re really durable.
TOM: Yeah. Or you can go, you know, back to the beginning and try to find a glazer that actually has a reputation; who’s been in business for a number of years and does a good job.
TOM: It sounds clearly like you got somebody that wasn’t doing a very good job. They didn’t even stay in business for two months after you hired them.
BETH: Right. OK. Well, I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.