You can improve the look of your tub in three ways: replacement, refinishing, or installing a liner. Bathtub liners have disadvantages which include plumbing, cracking, and expense, so we recommend refinishing over bathtub liners as a low cost solution.
Plumbing – the added thickness of the liner may mean the drain and overflow must be extended to avoid plumbing problems.
Water can sometimes collect between the liner and the tub, causing it to feel squishy whenever you step in or out of the tub. The collected water can become stagnant which can cause odor problems, or in worst cases, mildew and mold build up.
Replacement – liners will eventually need to be replaced because they will wear out. Unfortunately, most liners are glued to the tub during installation. Bathtub liners that are glued in have to be cut or ripped out to be replaced.
Cracking – bathtub liners may crack over time. If the shell doesn’t match the measurements of your bathtub exactly the liner will flex and crack over time. This flexing will eventually cause bathtub liners to crack. Water can easily enter these cracks and cause the problems mentioned earlier.
Limited Color Selection – bath tub liners usually come in a limited selection of colors which is standard white, almond, biscuit, and gray. Also, some liners are made from plastic, and do not have a glossy surface.
Reduced Bathroom Space – bathtub liners are made to fit a range of bathtub models and sizes, and are often several inches wider than the original bathtub. This extra width may take up critical space in a small bathroom or throw off the carefully balanced design of a larger bathroom.
Expense – although they are a cheaper option that total replacement of the tub, they are considerably more expensive than having the tub refinished. Most bathtub liner companies will insist on installing a 3-wall bathtub liner wall surround to help prevent the collection of water under the liner. This adds to the cost and you may not need the surround. Installing a tub liner in the bathtub alone will run $1,000 -$1,500. Replacing the wall panels, soap dishes, shampoo shelves or other options can run an additional $1,000 – $3,500.