Armchair Builder

Bath Tub Restoration

Photo by ednl

We are currently in the process of planning a complete bathroom remodel.  One of the issues we are dealing with is the existing cast iron tub.  The tub has stains from the water in the porcelain.  Do we spend $600-$800 to replace the tub or do we try and restore the finish and save a few bucks while keeping some material out of the landfill?

Professionally Refinish:  We have checked with several sources in the area and it turns out it will cost us $400 to have a professional refinish the existing tub in place.  This refinishing should leave the tub in a “new” condition.

Remove:  The new tube itself will cost $500-$600 (depending on which model we go with) and the plumber will charge another $150-$250 to pickup and install.  This would leave us with the fun job of breaking up the old tub with a sledge hammer and hauling it to the dump.  I hate throwing away good materials…not only does it cost more, but it’s also bad for the environment.  There really is no good way to remove the tub without breaking it up. And  trying to remove it as one solid piece will cause more damage and trouble than it’s worth.  One other thought…whether we break the tub up or remove it whole, there will be collateral damage on the wall surrounding the tub opening.

Refinish Ourselves:  There are several products on the market that allow for do-it-yourself refinishing.  Rustoleum makes a Tub & Tile Refinishing Kit that you can buy for $30 or so.  Based on the manufacturer’s directions (and advice from some of the reviews), it looks like it would probably take a half day to finish the job properly.  But since our tub is in good shape, we might be able to clean up the iron coloring and then touch up the minimal surface damage.

So what did we do? After trying several different cleaners that supposedly remove iron stains, we found a product called TRR (Toilet Ring Remover) that removes stains from porcelain.  Based on the name, I assume that it was originally created for toilet rings.  With an $8 bottle and some time, we were able to remove all of the stains following the directions.   Good times.

Bath Tub Reconditioned

Now we just need to find a porcelain touch up kit that for the small area around the drain.  With a little bit of research and effort, we were able to save $400 and restore our old tub to new condition.  Now we can spend the extra money on higher quality finishes for our new space.  Let us know if you’ve tried any of the DIY tub refinishing kits and if so, how they worked for you.

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2 Comments for Bath Tub Restoration

Gus Hans | January 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm

The tub looks great, I didn’t see a before pic but it looks new. I refinished a 1924 Kohler clawfoot and saved hundreds by using auto primer and enamel for the outside. The inside was electrostatic sprayed by professqionals for under $200. To save even more I only had the front legs rechromed and sprayed the back ones, which won’t be seen. Not too much but way more than $8! Is there anything you would suggest using to protect it?

Author comment by armchairbuilder | January 3, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Gus, the clawfoot sounds gorgeous. I’m not familiar with any good ways to protect a porcelain finish. Anyone else have any experience with this?