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jlaam 09-28-2007 12:31 PM

Bathroom - tub liner, wall system, etc.???
Our bath tub is in bad shape and the current bath surround is a cheap liner installed by the previous owner. Pieces of the underlying wall where tile used to be chips off and falls down into the tub as the seal is no longer in place keeping the liner attached to the tub. Seems like a mold/bacterial risk as well as the fact that water is clearly getting behind the liner and possibly causing damage. Maybe this isn't exactly a DIY question, but does anyone have experience either replacing a tub liner yourself, or hiring someone to do this?

Re-Bath and Bath Fitter, as well as some other local places around us, charge between $3000-$4500 for a bath liner and wall system. I've heard they're not even that durable (these systems) and for the price it seems like we could do an entire bathroom remodel! We've thought of having someone fix up the wall and re-do it in ceramic tile, but I'm not sure if this is the right way to go either and either way we still need the bath-tub re-sealed or something.

??? Any thoughts would be very appreciated! Thanks!

redline 09-28-2007 12:47 PM

Can you post a photo of the tub and the wall/s?

NateHanson 09-28-2007 12:57 PM

I've put in a tub liner, over tile that I didn't want to replace in a rental unit. It's easy, and quick. But in the end it looks like a bath liner, which, IMO isn't that classy.

Anyone has the ability to retile a bath surround, and get great-looking results. It'll take you a weekend, and a couple hundred dollars. That's pretty much it.

Consider hiring someone to reglaze the tub while you're at it. (Probably best to do it after tearing out the old walls, and before putting up the new backerboard and tile.)

Dusty 09-29-2007 07:11 PM

I had the same dilemma and there is one key factor IMO. If you get a Bath-fitter type unit it's done in a day, no damages. Depending on your tub and house layout, taking out a tub can be a big deal as you have to actually get it out and sometimes that isn't happening without a lot of wall and floor damage. Otherwise you need to cut the tub and take it out in pieces which can be very difficult.

So, first assess if you can pull it out and maneuver it through the house to get it outside. Same on getting a new one in.

I went with new tub as I wanted a bigger tub and planned to replace the floor anyway.The tile surround was gonners too. So the timing was right anyway.

To get the old tub out, the walls around the tub as well as the floor had to be cut out. I guess about 4" off wall, and 2" of floor to wiggle the tub out. My house layout wasn't a big deal so old tub went out and a bigger/deeper tub came in. Then the floor/subfloor had to be fixed for tile as well as the walls (taken back to studs) around the tub.

Plumber cost to remove and replace tub was about $500 (he also took the old one away). Tub costs vary from $150 to as high as you want to go plus fixtures etc. Costs for tilers seem to vary depending on area and type of tile. Here trades are in short supply so I have to DIY which means I can't really give you any idea of what the floor and wall tiles would cost to have done.

Anyway, chances are if you want to replace the tub you have to replace your floor and your walls so add that when factoring the differences in costs. If I were doing it over again, and if I had a tub I liked the size of, I wouldn't hesitate to do bath-fitter now. It would have been a whole lot faster and less work (which when doing a whole house like I am makes a difference). It also would have allowed me to redo the bathroom floor etc. at my own pace vs it being moved to top of the list.

NateHanson 09-29-2007 08:20 PM

It all depends on whether you'll be happy with a plastic tub and plastic walls. That's a no-go for me.

But yes, if you wish to remove the tub, you'll likely need to replace the walls and floor. I've found that the easiest way to remove a cast iron tub is with a sledge hammer.

jlaam 09-30-2007 12:02 AM

Thanks for all the advice. It sounds like actually replacing the tub would be too cost/time prohibitive so the main issue is just whether to have the whole Bath-Fitter/Re-Bath type system or to get the tub sealed (what exactly is this? - I'm not finding any local listings when I try to look it up) and do ceramic tile on the walls. A big concern is whatever is behind the current plastic wall liner, I'm sure it's a mess behind there and I'm not sure if more work would be needed to tile it than what would be required to have someone do the wall system. And there also seem to be fixed feelings on whether these bath liner products are really any good in the long run.

Dusty 09-30-2007 02:04 AM

I think the 'sealing' you are referring to is reglazing. There again, you have some choices. The best is baked but again, you have to remove the tub and take it to be baked. So that only seems prudent if it's a keeper like a clawfoot. There are also epoxy processes and some DIY. Cost for the pro to come in is about $600 I think depending again on where you are and what process they use. The baked one is about $800 (at least where I live).

When I looked at this option I wrote it off. None warrantied their finish for more than 5 years and some are only 2. I know from having a reglazed tub in another house they are delicate and one squirt with the wrong bathtub cleaner and you lose your finish and are left with a horrible mess (been there, done that unfortunately). As well when I was house shopping, the number of old tubs I saw with peeling finishes left me cold to reglazing in any form. It didn't seem to matter if it looked DIY or pro, they just don't seem to last very long.

The bathtub liners I saw (like Bath Fitter) are acrylic which means they look exactly like the tubs put in new homes. The new tub I bought is acrylic so it's everywhere in the bath world now. They are quite thick and seem very durable so at least you don't have to worry about redoing everything within 5 years. A neighbour I had had a bath fitter unit that had to be 8+ years old and it looked like new. Much better than the plastic version and ions ahead of a reglaze. As well, acrylic can be buffed if you ever chip or scratch it.

As for your walls, you probably won't know what you have there until you take off that surround. At best you'll have damaged drywall or plaster from the adhesive. Most likely you'll end up having to take the walls back to studs if they have been water damaged. Hopefully only the walls will be effected and not the studs. That's not a big deal, a big mess, but not a big deal. Once the walls are gone you are usually good to go.

When it comes to which is more work... tiling is more work, way more work. With an acrylic surround (like Bath Fitter) its 3 pieces and trim, cut to size, cut the plumbing holes. Fit and your done with tub in half a day or so (assuming a pro is doing it). With tiling (and I know this because that is what I am doing) you have to have those walls waterproof and square (like any house is square :huh:). My house is 1930, was down to stud, and it took an experienced contractor with helper about 12 hours over a couple of days just to square things up, put up the fiberock (like cement board), and waterproof the seams. Others may have done it faster but they were very particular about being square knowing the tile I am using. Tiling will probably take me at least 2 days with tiling/grouting (which is allegedly easy once you do all the cutting, measuring and lining things up but I'm no pro so it'll probably take me longer). I'm using subway tiles so way more work than a 12 x 12 as there are more tiles, more lines, more need to be precise. Quotes to have someone do the tiling (me supplying materials and remember I mentioned a trade shortage here so they are soaking people) were around $5000 (which is why I am doing it myself). Back in the good old days of trades being normal (a year or two ago) they charged about $10 sq/ft to tile and a bath surround is usually around 50 sq. ft.

You probably need to get a good close up look at the Bath Fitter to see what it's like. They are up there with the look of bathtubs in new homes, same material etc. They are clean and durable and are much more substantial than the type of surrounds you get a Sears or Home Depot. What they aren't is classic as far as what most people think of in bathrooms (which is pretty much tile) but boy are they a good solution when you are stuck with a problem and don't want to do an entire reno.

NateHanson 09-30-2007 08:25 AM

But $3500-$4000? That sounds like it's about 2/3rd of the way to having your tub replaced, and bath professionally tiled.

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