Bathtub liners are designed to fit, like a shell, right over your existing bathtub and walls. They are made out of vinyl or plastic and take about 2 weeks to order and can be installed in a day. The cost however versus refinishing is about $1100 for the bathtub, and $2-4000 if you include the wall surround. Compare this to the average bathtub refinishing project at $350 and you can see the savings refinishing offers over liners.
If you are considering this type of solution for your bathroom remodeling project, you may want to consider the following.The life expectancy of both a refinished bathtub, and a bathtub liner is between 12-20 years. This is based on professional installation, proper care, and the quality of the products the company is using. The claims that liners cannot be chipped or gouged are not true. In fact, bathtub liners are easily scratched and if a sharp edge is dropped or scraped up against a liner, they will be damaged. The key is to always follow the care instructions provided by the company doing your job.
An improperly installed bathtub liner or one that is cheap and installed by inexperienced companies can end up being a headache for you down the road. Bathtub liners tend to leak at the joints, or at the drains and when this happens water will accumulate between the liner and the old bathtub. This will cause your bathtub liner to develop mold, mildew, bad odor, and a mushy feeling when you are standing on the bathtub floor.
Research has shown that when mold spores are inhaled, even in small quantities, these can contribute to serious health problems. If this happens, the only way to remove the mold is to remove the liner and disinfect the bathtub.
When the time comes to replace the liner, expect to end up paying a large sum to do it. These liners are basically glued to your old bathtub and they are very difficult to remove. This is not the case with bathtub refinishing. When it is time to refinish your bathtub again, then remedy is much less expensive and there is less time involved.
Unlike bathtub refinishing, your choices during installation of a bathtub liner are limited. Only a very small number of colors are available. Trying to match the bathtub liner to your custom colored vanity top, tile or sink is not going to happen either. Expect most installations to require 2 trips to your home for measuring and another day for installation, not to mention the 2 week ordering period. This is all solved, really in 1 day by bathtub refinishing. Choose any color you like, same day or same week completion service and no waiting for manufacturing a bathtub liner.