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Thread: Refinish or replace cast iron tub?

  1. #1
    DIY Member jwray's Avatar
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    Default Refinish or replace cast iron tub?

    Would like to get some opinions on what to do with my existing cast iron (regular not claw foot style) tub in my bathroom remodel.

    The existing tub finish is kind of "hazy" on the inside and has a few small rust spots around the drain and overflow openings. I've heard mixed comments about having a cast iron tub refinished.

    Any thoughts on the viability of refinishing?
    ...preferred methods?
    ...approx cost?

    I guess I would prefer to have it refinished vs. hauling it off the second floor and out of the house, but I'm going to actually move it to the other side of the bathroom, so other than the removal hassle installing a new tub would not be too difficult (I know the removal down the stairs will not be easy - been there before, twice. Feel sorry for the guys that lugged it up there.)

    ...but if you vote for replace what is your preference steel or fiberglass?

    Thanks,

    Joel

  2. #2
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Refinishing is never as good as replacement. It does save the time and money of removing and reinstalling a tub and tile.

    If you are moving the old tub, keep on moving it to the dump.
    You will never get a better chance than now for replacement.

    For new tubs, I like cast iron and acrylic.
    Last edited by Terry; 10-30-2004 at 09:51 AM.

  3. #3
    Software Engineer mradtke's Avatar
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    Default Removal is the easy part

    Joel,

    The best way to remove a cast iron tub is to put on your safety glasses and break it up with a sledge hammer. You'll still have to carry the pieces down the stairs though.

    30 years ago, I replaced a 30 year old cast iron tub with a steel one. The old cast iron tub looked awful. My steel tub still looked great 30 years later, probably because we only used non-abrasive cleaners on it. The reason that I wanted to replace it again was because of opportunity, I was remodling the bath anyhow, and there were two chips in the finish caused by contractors dropping tools.

    So, I did a lot of research, just as you are doing now. What I found is that steel tubs have the same finish as cast iron and should have about the same life. The downside of steel is that it sounds tinny when you rap on it while cast iron makes a high quality thunk.

    I read lots on the various types of plastic tubs and what I found was that there is plentiful information about what to do when they crack and many claims that new plastic tubs don't crack anymore. I seem to remember those same claims 30 years ago. So, I chose a steel tub again. But, before you make your decision, please consider my earlier post on damaged steel tubs and the fact that I have little experience and that Terry is an expert.

    Good luck,
    Mike

  4. #4
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Default

    For reasons which plumbers are probably not supposed to understand, steel tubs are easier to chip than cast iron. They are also more prone to develop rust around the drains and overflows. You got 30 years of good service out of yours, which is probbly about double the "rated" life expectancy of steel tub. Can't argue with success!. You made good points about using the proper cleaning material.

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default tub

    Refinishing is only a good choice, albeit not a perfect one, when the alternative is to tear out the walls and replace the tub. You are going to do that anyway, so scrap the tub and install a new one. It is not that big of a job to get it out of the house. Disposing of it after than can be the hard job.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Refinishing is never as good as replacement. It does save the time and money of removing and reinstalling a tub and tile.

    If you are moving the old tub, keep on moving it to the dump.
    You will never get a better chance than now for replacement.

    For new tubs, I like cast iron and acrylic.

    I own a tub, tile and countertop refinishing business in Austin TX and I agree with Terry. Refinishing is the next best thing to replacement, and it is much more affordable, but it can't match a new bathtub that's been manufactured in a controlled setting.

    I also come across some clients that are never entirely happy with a refinished tub even if it comes out great - and so I always suggest that you replace if you prefer that option. There's no better time to replace than when it's already being moved.

    Good luck

    Jose Olmedo
    AllSurfaceRenew.com
    tub, tile and countertop refinishing

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllSurfaceRenew View Post
    I own a tub, tile and countertop refinishing business in Austin TX and I agree with Terry. Refinishing is the next best thing to replacement, and it is much more affordable, but it can't match a new bathtub that's been manufactured in a controlled setting.

    I also come across some clients that are never entirely happy with a refinished tub even if it comes out great - and so I always suggest that you replace if you prefer that option. There's no better time to replace than when it's already being moved.

    Good luck

    Jose Olmedo
    AllSurfaceRenew.com
    tub, tile and countertop refinishing
    I also agree with Jose, if at all possible replace it! Refinishing is a short term solution but can last quite a few years if done properly.

  8. #8
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default tub

    As far as a new tub is concerned, my preferences go
    1. Cast iron
    2. Americast
    3. acrylic
    4. fiberglass
    99. steel.

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