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Bathtub and Shower Liners

Should You Even Consider This?

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Bathtub Liner Installation
Copyright Re-Bath; courtesy Re-Bath
Acrylic liners for bathtubs and showers has become a huge part of the home remodeling industry lately. They promise a quick solution to a decrepit tub or shower.

If you're concerned about saving money on your bathroom remodeling, tub and shower liners are an alternative to refinishing your bathtub or shower or completely replacing them.

Conventional wisdom is that no serious remodeler would even consider a liner. That's always been my thinking. But now I have looked at the issue in greater detail. And while I cannot wholeheartedly recommend liners, I can at least present a more balanced argument.

What Are Bathtub and Shower Liners?

Liners are new "skins" for your bathtub, shower pan, or walls. They are installed over your existing tub or shower; nothing is removed. Liners are made of heavy gauge acrylic. This is the same material that new, pre-fabricated bath and shower stalls are made of. So, if you were to demolish your bathroom and put in a new pre-fab unit, this is the same material that the pre-fab unit is made of. You can re-line just the bathtub or shower pan itself, or you can also add wall surrounds.

Five Reasons Why Not to Consider a Bathtub or Shower Liner

  1. A Cover-Up, Not a Solution

    Liners cover up underlying problems instead of fixing them. The moisture in bathrooms can create mold and even eat away at structural elements which need to be replaced.

  2. Trapped Water

    Possibility of water getting trapped between liner and tub, creating mold and mildew.

  3. Hollow Feeling

    Liners may feel "spongey" or less than stable under foot.

  4. Pricey

    Liners are more expensive than refinishing.

  5. Reduced dimensions

    Because you are adding material, your bathtub will become smaller.

Note: for a very temporary and cheap solution, it is possible to find inflatable bathtub liners designed to help bathe children.

Five Reasons Why You Might Consider a Bathtub or Shower Liner

  1. A Quick Fix

    It's a faster fix than completely demolishing and replacing your bathroom.

  2. Cheaper Than a Full Remodel

    While more expensive than refinishing, it's cheaper than a full-on bathroom remodel.

  3. Covers Up Icky Walls, Too

    Refinishing only takes care of the bathtub itself or the shower floor pan. If your walls look like a warzone, refinishing won't help. But it is possible to order wall surround liners to cover up this mess.

  4. No Demolition

    Demolition is necessary for a full bathroom remodel. The tub and shower have to be ripped out, and surrounding materials will get damaged and must be replaced. Liners do not require demolition.

  5. Competitive

    Tub relining is one of those home remodeling industries like vinyl siding and window replacement: there are a lot of companies out there competing for your business. You should be able to find a company that will work with you.

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