Your bathroom is an essential section of your home and should always be kept appealing and clean, especially if you have a bathtub installed.
The bathtub is often on the watch when it comes to the aesthetics and beauty of the entire bathroom. However, they don't stay new and appealing forever. At some point, their once aesthetically appealing surfaces start wearing out and turning into unpleasant displays. When that happens, you're always torn between replacing your old tub or using a bathtub liner to cover your bathtub's degrading aesthetics.
While a new bathtub installation can be a more permanent solution, the time and money investment you put in can be a little more on the high side. Tub and shower liners are, therefore, the most common cost-effective bathtub renovation options. You can use them to bring back the beauty of your old tub without spending a fortune on refinishing costs.
Understanding a Bathtub Liner – What is it?
A bathtub or shower liner is a solid sheet made of PVC or acrylic that professionals use to cover the contours of your existing tub.
Unlike refinishing, a bathtub liner installation doesn't require chemicals like urethane, epoxy, or polymer materials. Rather, the solid unit comes readily molded to perfectly fit the model of bathtub you're using in your bathroom.
Typically you should expect the liners to come in two dimensions. First, there's a bottom unit that the professional installers (like ones from Bath Planet for example) will fit over your bathtub.
And then there's the upper section known as the bathtub surround that covers the area between the edge of the bathtub and the top of your bathroom wall. (Read more about the best bathtub surrounds)
Your refinishing company will send a handyperson who will easily install a bathtub liner using this two-part construction and will align its design to your bathroom model to achieve an unbeatable unique design.
Existing Tub Liners in the Market Today
When shopping for bathtub liners, there are a variety of options you can pick from in the existing reputable stores. You'll easily settle for the perfect tub liner for your bathroom if you take the time to analyze your budget, bathroom aesthetics, precise measurements, and other relevant features regarding your current tub or old tub.
Here are some of the common types of tub and shower liners you can consider.
1. PVC Tub Liners
These bathtub liners are made of polyvinyl chloride, a slightly more flexible form of plastic that gives your bathtub surface a fine layer of aesthetics.
Once you've installed a PVC liner, you won't need to worry about painting or applying some finishing touches. They come in numerous colors, so you can choose a befitting color that matches your bathroom décor needs.
Since they're made of plastic that is commonly available, these PVC liners are the cheapest liner options in the market today. They're not only cheaper to purchase but also to install and maintain. You'll pay a one-off fee for installation and nothing more for continual maintenance demands.
Despite their excellent and admirable features, these liners aren't the most durable options you can buy. They develop cracks after a short period and they will start breaking apart moments after these cracks develop.
Their attractiveness is also limited and may not easily beat what the original bathroom finish looked like. They are, therefore, an ideal short-term solution for a worn-out bathtub. If you want a tentative solution as you plan for a complete bathtub renovation project, you can always count on PVC liners.
2. Acrylic Tub Liners
They are the most commonly used bathtub liners, majorly because of their durable nature.
Acrylic liners are tough and firm plastic materials that are less likely to crack or break due to tension and wear and tear. The firm plastic used to make acrylic liners measures about ¼ inch thick. You can only bend them and you'll struggle to break one into two if you tried.
What's more, acrylic liners come in various color options, which you can use to achieve your bathtub's original look. Unlike a PVC liner, an acrylic liner can serve you in multiple areas including bathroom walls and showers. You're not limited to using them in the bathtub alone.
You can easily cover up your original tub with acrylic liners as they are easy to install and they perfectly conceal stubborn stains, cracks, and spots. The only thing you should worry about when buying acrylic liners is their price.
However, you will always enjoy value for money and once you buy an acrylic liner you can use it to cover the entire bath and shower pans.
Are Bathtub Liners Any Good?
While a home improvement expert may consider liners a miracle method, there are advantages and disadvantages to using the existing bathtub liners.
Advantages of using a Tub Liner
There are many advantages of installing a tub liner onto your bathtub. With a great choice of bathtub liners, you can always have an excellent solution for your existing tub.
Here are some of the advantages of using a tub liner.
a) Tub Liners are Readily Available
You will always have the need to reline your bathtub every now and again and when the need arises, you would like to have immediate solutions.
Whether you're using acrylic or fiberglass tubs, tub liners will always be a perfect answer to your worn-out tub since they are always available when you need them.
Many companies today are manufacturing excellent tub liners of various styles and colors. You can choose from these vast options a perfect bathtub liner that will help you create a unique bathtub.
Various companies offer free consultation and lifetime warranties if you choose specific tub liners over a bathtub replacement.
b) They are Affordable
Compared to a construction project, resurfacing, and repairs, this miracle method is more affordable.
You can't possibly be demolishing and replacing your bathtub every time it's in an aesthetic mess. The whole process is not only expensive but also time-consuming and engaging.
It is only appropriate that you have the best bathtub liner to cover the mess in a quick, affordable and effective manner. In other words, using a bathtub liner of any kind is always a more affordable option for reviving your bathtub's looks and lifespan.
c) You Save Time and Energy meant for Demolition
Since you'll not be needing demolition services when installing a bathtub liner, you'll have extra time and energy to save.
Bathtub demolition is a necessary step to follow when remodeling your bathtub. The painstaking process takes lots of your time and energy and many people find it challenging to take this route.
The best way to avoid all this hustle and bustle is to get a bathtub liner installed for you by a professional who'll take even lesser time to get the job done.
You don't have to worry about removing the existing tile or buying a new tub when all you need is a new liner to get things back in shape.
d) They extend your Bathtub's Lifespan
Whether you're using steel tubs, acrylic tubs, or fiberglass tubs, there comes a time when they all become worn out and old.
Bathtub liners will help bring new life to your bathtub and make them shiny and new again. Most bathtub liner companies are doing an excellent job of manufacturing the industry's best liners using durable and high-quality materials like acrylic and PVC.
These types of liners will not only make your current bathtub beautiful but also give it additional protection to help it serve you longer and better.
e) They Easily Blend with Your Beauty Needs
More often, bathtub liner companies are always competing on releasing the most colorful and beautiful bathtub liners to attract buyers.
This competition has availed numerous beautiful bathtub liner options in the market today. With this competition, you can easily get liners that meet your beauty demands perfectly.
You can easily turn your current bathtub into a new tub with the help of these colorful and patterned liners that exist on the market today. What's more, you can easily pair your liner of choice with a tile surround to achieve a unique new tub.
f) They're Easy to Maintain
Exhaustive and consistent maintenance work will always dent your pocket and leave you drained emotionally.
You need a bathtub surface that's easier to maintain and serves you for a long time. Using bathtub liners to cover cracks and worn-out surfaces on your bathtub is the best investment you can make for your bathtub.
You will rarely scrub the surface of any harsh stains as these liners can withstand filth, mold, and mildew to remain cleaner for longer.
g) They're Multipurpose
Different from bathtub or shower refinishing, a tub liner offers more than one solution to your bathroom space.
You can use them to cover both the bathtub and the walls next to your bathing area to give a rhyming look of elegance between your wall and the bathtub.
They are also great for covering your shower so you won't need to do a shower refinishing anytime its condition deteriorates.
h) They're Easier and Simpler to Install
It's possible to carry out a DIY bathtub liner installation process with a little guidance and help from the installation manual. However, the same cannot be said for a refinishing or remodeling exercise.
You can use special alcohol to install the liners. Spray the alcohol on the tub's surface and then apply glue so that the liner can solidly fix the tub's surface.
Once you've done that, you can allow a grace period of one day for the whole thing to dry up before you get into it to use it. With only those few installation guides, you'll be good to go with your new bathtub liner.
The Disadvantages of using a Bathtub Liner
Despite having excellent features and wonderful admirations, bathtub liners also have shortcomings. Some of these common challenges associated with bathtub liners include the following:
a) Installations are Permanent
Once you decide you want to go with a particular tub liner, it better be a choice you'll be proud of for the rest of the tub liner's lifetime.
Once the glue dries it is impossible to remove the liner from the tub without potentially destroying your bathtub.
To avoid being in a situation where you would want the liner removed, you should carry out enough research on what you want and settle for the best. Otherwise, you'll have to live with your available choice until it wears off naturally.
b) Leaks from Cracks
You are more likely to have problems with cracks when using a PVC liner. When these cracks form, they may allow leaks which will result in an unpleasant odor and thriving of mold and mildew that may pose a potential threat to your health. You can check for cracks and fix any leaks in your bathtub to avoid old and bad odors.
c) Liners don't solve the Main Problem
More often liners are installed to cover up the unpleasant image of the wearing-out bathtub. When you do the installation without finding out what causes your tub to wear out, you may end up concealing the main problem underneath the newly installed liner.
Even after installing the liner, the problem doesn't go away and can wear out your liner within a short period after installation.
Instead of covering up the whole mess with a new liner, it's best if you find out what causes moisture problems in your bathtub first. After you've solved the underlying problem, you can continue to install your liner without worry.
d) Additional Plumbing Costs
If you wanted to avoid plumbing costs and activities, it might not augur well with you to realize you may actually need these services for a perfect and successful installation.
Your handymen will suggest you get a plumber to adjust your bathroom pipes so that the liner can fit perfectly without leaving space for water to get in.
e) Liners are Limited to the Type of Tub you're using
You can't install the basic type of liners on a bathtub with jets or clawfoot. You'll need specially customized liners to fit into these types of tubs.
This also means you'll have to dig deeper into your pockets to get the right person to fit a perfect bathtub liner for your luxury bathtub. Additionally, if you're using an acrylic tub, you are only limited to using a PVC plastic liner as you can't possibly use an acrylic liner to cover an acrylic bathtub.
f) You can't Take Chances with the Installation Process
Any poorly done installation will cost you your liner and the initial cost of installation. Liners need excellent professionals who understand how to seal any moisture loophole to minimize the chances of moisture creeping in and destroying your liner.
Even though most liners are durable, if the installation isn't perfectly done, cracks will start forming soon. You should confirm what the warranties of such liners cover before trusting anyone with the installation.
The Buying Process: What Should You Consider When Buying a Bathtub Liner?
Making a perfect purchase decision is one challenge every buyer faces, especially if you are making the first bathtub liner purchase.
However, you don't need to worry if you have a reliable guide on what to look out for when making the purchase decision.
Here are some of the factors you should consider when buying your next bathtub liner.
Your main aim for installing a bathtub is to achieve a refurbished new look that rhymes with your bathroom's décor.
The type of bathtub liner you choose determines the final appearance your bathtub will have. Different bathtub materials offer different finishing styles which makes all the difference in the final appearance of your bathtub.
You should pick a bathtub liner that will cover deformed and rusty bathtubs and cover their cracks optimally to give you an excellent final appearance.
One reason everyone opts for bathtub liners over bathtub replacement is the cost factor. Covering your bathtubs with liners instead of replacing them when they're worn out saves you a lot of money.
But that's not the only way you can save cost when making a renovation decision for your bathtubs. You can always get more affordable bathtub liners that will give your bathtubs a new unique look.
Additionally, you should shop around for a more affordable installation service that will equally reduce your general cost in the end.
Customizable Features and Style
When shopping for a bathtub liner, you need to give weight to the available features and style options. This is very important especially if you're owning one of the bathtubs with contour shapes and jets for increased comfort.
Check to find out what the manufacturer is willing to offer to cover your style demands and meet all the features you expect to have in your bathtub liner.
A great dealer will have the internal measurements of your bathtub taken and pour plastic into your bathtub to craft a customized liner. You can easily get the best bathtub liner from a manufacturer that offers numerous customizable features and styles.
You obviously need a liner that not only meets your quality standards but does so for an extended period.
Although liners aren't a durable bathroom remodeling idea as bathtub replacement, they can still serve you for a significant period as you wait for a better solution. You should therefore optimize your chances and pick a liner that will serve you the longest.
Hygiene and Mess
The process of installing liners on bathtubs is much less messy and more hygienic than when replacing the bathtub entirely. However, that's not mean that every installer will handle the process effectively.
Some will throw caution to the wind and get your bathroom messed up during installation. You should ask the company what measures they take towards minimizing mess and achieving high hygienic standards before signing them up for the job.
This will help you have an easier time after the installation and a lesser risk of bacterial infections arising from the dust and debris left behind.
Bathtub Liner Costing: How Much Does a Bathtub Liner Cost?
Buying and installing a bathtub liner may not be the perfect long-term investment to make, but it will still cost you a significant amount of money to get one installed.
Buying a bathtub liner is only the first part of the investment. You'll need to pay for other additional costs like the cost of installing the tub liner, adding special features like drawers to hold soap dishes, and other associated costs.
Over the years the cost of tub liners hasn't been reliably stable and therefore you're likely to meet varying costs all over the market. However, most companies come up with costs depending on the material, size, and type of liner they are selling.
That's why acrylic liners tend to cost more than their PVC counterparts. With $2,000 you should be able to acquire a reliable bathtub liner that will meet most if not all of your quality demands.
However, if you plan to remodel your bathroom surrounding along with installing a liner, you may end up spending twice the amount or even more.
The Installation Cost
Once you've spent the $2,000 to acquire your best liner option, you will need to pay those installing it to do the work for you.
Installing a liner will cost you anything between $1,200 and $1,800 depending on the total amount of work that needs to be done. A professional installer will have this work completed within 24 hours. So you can also factor in how time will impact additional installation costs and include it in your budget.
Sometimes it can be more challenging to get a reliable local installer and an online installer can step in handy. You can always check how much both local and online installation services are priced and compare prices before settling for one.
Remember, the type of liner you choose for your bathtubs has a high impact on the total installation cost you'll pay. Plastic vinyl is easier to install and might cost less than acrylic ones.
Mostly, you do have a lot of control over the total amount you spend on the entire process of relining your bathtubs. The choices you make along the way will land you at your final cost.
Bathtub Liners vs. Tub Refinishing: What's the Best Option?
You already know what bathtub liners entail. So, to be fair, let's look at what bathtub refinishing entails.
A bathtub refinishing process involves various stages of coating your existing bathtub and surround it. Most companies will send in refinishing technicians who will clean, patch, sand, and paint over your current bathtub to come up with a new tub.
When choosing between these two remodeling options, you should consider various factors and find out what works best for you. Here are some of the factors that will determine whether you settle for tub liners or tub refinishing.
The Amount of Demolition you're willing to keep up with
If you're willing to keep up with demolitions, then bathtub refinishing won't be a challenge for you to achieve. Refinishing processes incorporate a lot of demolition work and you must be prepared to handle dust and debris in larger amounts.
You should also seek answers from the company about their bathtub demolition process before you start working with them. The lesser the burden the better for you. However, if demolition is not an option you can consider, then you should go for liners without a second thought.
Costs vary depending on the company you're hiring, but the cost of installing a liner is always higher than the cost of refinishing.
Typically, the lowest you can pay to refinish your bathtub is between $250 and $600 while the lowest you can pay for installing a liner is between $850 and $900.
These costs vary widely depending on the area you come from and the availability of these services within the area.
Again, bath liners win over refinishing when it comes to durability. However, for this to be true, the liner must be expertly installed.
When you refinish your tub, you're basically adding a thin microscopic layer to the surface of your tub. This layer eventually wears off much faster than a liner which is made up of a thicker layer of more durable plastic.
If installed correctly, a liner should serve you for decades while still maintaining its aesthetic value. However, you should take great care to ensure no water gets its way into the liner as this will destroy them much faster.
The Bottom Line
Bathtub liners will always help you improve your bathroom décor when you take every essential factor into consideration. Always make sure you take the prior measurements and get reliable cost estimations before you start the buying process. Remember your bathtub takes up a significant space in your bathroom and if you can invest more in beautifying it, the better it is for your bathroom.