let's talk about bathtubs

friends, i need help.  i'm not sure if it's the pregnancy brain or what, but trying to decide what to do about the bathtub in our bathroom remodel project is causing me extreme stress.  and it's holding up the entire project, so i really need to make a decision soon.  we have at least narrowed it down to 2 options:
 
option 1 - re-glaze the existing bathtub.  as a reminder, our bathtub is blue.  here is the most current photo that i could find of our bathroom:
   
DSC_0534
 
i would like the new bathtub to be white.  several of our friends in stl have used a tub re-glazing company and have had good success, but they have started with white tubs.  i'm a little worried about how the white glaze will hold up over time over the blue color. 
 
tub re-glazing pros:  we would not have to remove the existing tub, which i believe is cast iron (think 300+lbs).  the time that we'd be unable to use our shower (our one and only shower) would be much shorter because we'd be able to demo the wall tile and install new tile while leaving the blue tub as is.  then we could come back later and have the tub re-glazed in place.  ideally this could be done over several weekends, and wouldn't be too inconvenient.
 
tub re-glazing cons:  the existing tub is very shallow so taking a bath is not ideal.  the exterior height is only 14", and the "soaking depth" (depth to the overflow) is about 9".  i like to take baths, so it would be nice to have a deeper tub...  i am also concerned about the durability of the glaze finish, esp. considering that it is pretty expensive to re-glaze a tub.  if we're already spending that amount of money... 
 

option 2 - replace the tub.  once we realized how expensive re-glazing was, we also started looking at new tubs.  we are restricted on the width of the tub, so within our dimension requirements there are only a few options.  and most of them are the same depth of our existing.  we did decide to rule out cast iron as a replacement option just because of the weight.  if we want cast iron, i think it makes the most sense to re-glaze the existing.  i haven't heard good things about steel tubs, and the new composite steel tubs have very mixed reviews.  after a lot of searching, i came across the tub below:
this is an acrylic tub, but i like the simple lines and shape of it.  plus it has a plain skirt, which is difficult to find.  it's made by mirabelle, and with my trade discount, is only about $100 more than the cost of re-glazing.
 
new tub pros:  this tub is much deeper than our existing tub.  the exterior depth is 20", and the soaking depth is over 16".  this is the biggest plus for me.  it is also a new tub, so ideally we wouldn't have to worry about the finish.  the tub has decent reviews online, so hopefully it would be durable.  we are already planning to remove all the surrounding tile and wall board, so we'd already have the entire area exposed down to the studs. 
 
new tub cons:  we'd have to remove our existing tub, and then set the new tub.  i've heard that you can break up cast iron to make removal easier.  i've also heard that setting a new tub isn't that difficult, but we would have to set it in a mortar bed, so it will take a little time.  we'd also have to redo the plumbing to accommodate the new tub/drain depth.  we are already planning on redoing some of the plumbing because we're getting all new faucets.  keeping in mind that this is our only shower, and i am a little concerned about the added time we'd be without a shower. 
 
here's another photo of what we started with (with previous owners pink accessories), you can see how bad of shape the tile is in.  we did remove the glass shower door and installed a curtain instead, so you won't see a lot of the tub when the curtain is closed.  we are planning on simple white subway tile for the new shower surround, with a gray grout.

 
any thoughts/opinions? has anyone set a new tub? what about the durability of acrylic?  help!


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13 Responses to let's talk about bathtubs

carrie said...

A friend is redoing their bathroom and replaced their old cast iron tub with Kohler's 32" Bellwether tub. It's got a great shape and plain front. Found a place in Jersey City who sold it to him for $596+tax.

It's cast iron and crazy heavy but there's really nothing like cast iron to hold the heat in. Recruit a few guy friends to help carry it into position.

Katie said...

carrie - we looked at the bellwether (we would need the 30" version, which isn't as deep as the 32") and i really like the simple shape of it. but since the dims are the same as our existing cast iron tub, i'm having a hard time justifying the effort of moving 2 cast iron tubs... the husband is on a rugby team though, so we know plently of strong guys!

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

Go for a new tub! Reglazing isn't going to last forever and honestly, the ability to have a nice soak would be fantastic. We had a tub like you to begin with (not blue, unfortunately!) and I always felt like a giant when I tried to soak!

If you can afford it and it will fit, definitely go with a new tub.

Keira said...

We just installed a Mirabelle tub that looks almost exactly like the one you're considering! I love how deep and wide it is inside for a 30" wide tub and haven't had any problem with it being acrylic. I suppose we did have one small issue. Our contractor somehow cracked the corner of it when he was tiling. It was very small but we were obviously worried about leakage. Anyway, he brought in a tub repair specialist who told us that he can fix any tub to brand new (!?). Who knew? But he did repair our crack so well that we don't even know where it was now. I would say go new if you like baths, but reglaze if you normally shower. The deeper tubs are harder to get in and out of. I have to lift my 6 year old out of this tub, but she could get in and out of the old one on her own.

Keira said...

And one more thing, our kids LOVE the big deep tub! They practically swim in it and it easily fits 2 of them. I can barely get them out!

Katie said...

keira - thank you for the feedback on the mirabelle tub! glad to hear that you like it! i am concerned about the height of the tub and a child (and dogs that we typically wash in the tub). the tub will also be a tub/shower combo so we will be stepping in and out of it every day...

i had no idea that you could repair these types of tubs, good to know!

Melissa said...

It's easy for me to say since it's not my money, but I would suggest replacing the tub. You'll have to reglaze every few years and I have no idea how durable it is doing a white over blue. Plus, if you aren't completely happy with the depth, it doesn't make tons of sense to keep it.

I know Kohler has different options but also look at Sunrise Specialty if you want to do a built in tub and tile around the outside. I don't think they are too terrible of a price point but maybe a little more than Kohler but have a lot of random sizes. We use them a lot in NYC for all the wonky nooks and crannies of old buildings!

Good luck and congrats on the baby on the way!

Darryl Iorio said...

So did you go for the new tub, Katie? If you ask me, I would make the sacrifice of renovating my bathroom and have a new tub that is way better than my old one even if it is fixed. In the same process of having a new tub, you can also check the pipelines to see if there is anything that needs to be repaired. That’ll make the replacement very efficient!


Darryl Lorio

Cathy said...

If you're going to ask me, I would go for the second option. Reglazing is good, especially if you love the current design of your tub and just wish to change the color. But if the cost is as much as the brand new one, replacement is the good and more practical option for you. Anyway, there's nothing bad with acrylic tubs because they are more resistant to cracking and chipping.

Cathy Newman

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Don Bennett said...

What did you guys end up doing? Taking out your old bathtub may have a more dramatic effect on your entire bathroom than reglazing it. It all depends on your bathroom situation. Does it have chipped tiles? Does your bathtub look worn out or stained? If you said “yes” to all these, replacing your bathtub may be the better option.

Don Bennett @ AthensPlumbing

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