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
- 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.
- Trapped Water
Possibility of water getting trapped between liner and tub, creating mold and mildew.
- Hollow Feeling
Liners may feel "spongey" or less than stable under foot.
Liners are more expensive than refinishing.
- 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
- A Quick Fix
It's a faster fix than completely demolishing and replacing your bathroom.
- Cheaper Than a Full Remodel
While more expensive than refinishing, it's cheaper than a full-on bathroom remodel.
- 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.
- 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.
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.