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Acrylic bathtub liner: cost, pros and cons, installation features (Before and After photos)
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Acrylic bathtub liner: cost, pros and cons, installation features (Before and After photos)

hackrea / May 28, 2021 - views 37 - 0 likes

Choosing a bathtub is one of the most straightforward decisions you can make when setting up a bathroom. The only thing that can cause difficulties is its design. However, in terms of materials, the assortment is not so great, which allows you to decide quickly enough.

As a rule, cast iron or steel, or acrylic tubs are usually installed in bathrooms. We will talk about the last option a little later, but for now, we will focus on the first two. Relatively lightweight, a variety of options, quick heating, more than attractive prices – steel baths are most often chosen by those looking for quality, affordable and inexpensive solutions. Environmental friendliness, unprecedented durability, resistance to temperature changes, reliability, service life up to 70 years, excellent sound insulation – cast iron tubs are appreciated by those who prefer time-tested options. And yet, both types of bathtubs have one serious drawback – the wear of the enamel coating.

The wrong choice of highly abrasive cleaning products, irregular care, washing items that should not be there (someone manages to rinse even car tires in the bath), poor water quality with a high content of salts and metals – all these factors lead the enamel of the tub to a deplorable state. Previously, this issue was solved by replacing the tub or applying an acrylic coating, but today a more functional and comfortable alternative has appeared – an acrylic tub liner. Let’s find out more about this material, the options for its use, and the cost of installation work.

Acrylic bathtub liner: what is it?

Cast acrylic bathtubs appeared much later than cast iron and steel but immediately became in demand, primarily due to their impressive aesthetic properties – smoothness, exceptional whiteness, and impressive durability. At the same time, the cost of such tubs was and remains relatively high, which forces the owners of houses and apartments to look for alternative solutions.

For a long time, such an alternative was refinishing the coating using liquid acrylic. However, in the 1970s, Austrian engineers came up with a faster and easier way to restore the bathroom to its original perfection. The method, patented in 1996, allowed not only to restore the bathroom’s aesthetic properties (and subsequently shower trays) but also reliably block damage to the enamel coating.

Modern acrylic liners are externally absolutely identical to traditional cast acrylic bathtubs – they are snow-white, smooth, and have absolutely no pores. All these features are due to the unique manufacturing technology of such linings. Today experts use two types of materials.

Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)

This material is also known as organic glass, acrylic glass, plexus, or all the same acrylic. It is a synthetic polymer, which is a thermoplastic plastic with a completely transparent texture. It acts as the first finishing layer since it is highly resistant to abrasion and the effects of rather aggressive chemicals. Moreover, it acquires a pure and dazzling white color upon contact with the second layer.

ABS plastic

This is the name given to the white thermoplastic technical resin with increased impact resistance. It is used to mold the product more easily, improve the performance of polymethyl methacrylate and make it more plastic and shock-resistant.

Bath tub liners can be either cast – that is, made of one layer of acrylic – or two-layer or composite, consisting of PMMA and ABS plastic. The opinions of the specialists often differ about these restoration options. So, it is believed that cast ones retain their excellent whiteness longer, they are easier to install and care for – however, they are pretty fragile and have a high cost. In contrast, composite ones are easier to maintain and affordable, but their service life is half as long as the acrylic layer over time starts to wear off from the ABS plastic. And yet, if you don’t spare money for high-quality linings, such a problem can be postponed for another couple of years.

Acrylic tub liners: pros and cons

This type of restoration is considered relatively new, and not everyone is familiar with it. However, it is still worth learning a little more about it since acrylic liners for the bathroom have many advantages – however, not without some nuances. So, let’s clarify all the pros and cons of this method of restoring a bath.

Pros

The undoubted advantages of using acrylic overlays include:

  • Aesthetics. Earlier, we have already said that acrylic liners retain whiteness and smoothness for a long time – unlike enamel on steel and cast-iron bathtubs, which over time turn yellow, crack, and become unpleasantly rough.
  • Sufficient strength. If inexpensive cast liners can still crack under the blow of the same shower head, it is already much more difficult to do this trick with composite. However, according to experts, it is still better to be more careful and not to drop anything heavy into the bathtub with such a tab.
  • Fast and relatively clean installation. The acrylic bathtub liner installation does not involve any dirty work – you do not even need to dismantle the bathtub. Installation of the lining by specialists takes 2-3 hours, but you will have to spend about 5 hours if you get down to business yourself.
  • Correction of defects in the installation of the bath. You can correct the defects with an acrylic tub liner if the steel tub was installed with an incorrect slope.
  • Excellent sound insulation. This advantage is especially true for a steel bath. If you dealt with it at least once, then you probably understand what we mean.
  • Easy care. Thanks to the ideal smoothness and the minimum number of pores, dirt and plaque are quickly removed from the acrylic surface – mainly if applied immediately.

And, of course, an essential plus of acrylic bathtub liner is financial affordability. Even an expensive design will be cheaper than dismantling and replacing the tub itself with a new one.

Cons

Despite the long list of benefits of acrylic bathtub liners, it would be slyly to claim that they are perfect under any circumstance. In fact, the operation of PMMA structures has its characteristics and difficulties that you should be aware of when you choose this method of restoring your bathtub:

  • Relative fragility. If acrylic exhibits a specific resistance under shock loading, then it is unlikely to be able to resist scratches. That is why try not to move anything heavy and sharp by dragging along the bottom of the bath and lay a special rug when bathing your pet – claws for polymethylacrylate are also very dangerous.
  • Specificity of care. Although acrylic stains can be removed relatively easily and quickly, for this, you need special products with a low level of aggressive chemical components that can weaken the acrylic layer. When buying detergents, read the labels carefully to make sure the formulation is suitable for you.
  • Impossibility of restoration. The acrylic tub liners are strong enough, but if it happens that you have damaged it, it will not work to restore the integrity of the structure – the liner will have to be replaced. However, due to the reasonable prices, this will not be such a big problem.

And one more nuance, which can hardly be called a disadvantage, is the imperative need to comply with the technology for installing a tub liner. If the tightness between the bowl and the cover is broken, then this can lead to fungus and mold’s appearance and active reproduction over time. That is why experts recommend entrusting the restoration to professionals since installation on your own is almost always a risk.

Bathtub reglazing or bathtub liner: deciding on the technology

Unlike the liner, which we are talking about, the refinish of the bath with acrylic compounds is a well-known technology. So is it worth making a choice in favor of proven methods or using those that are not yet familiar to everyone? Let’s try to figure it out.

Indeed, bathtub reglazing has many advantages. With strict adherence to the sequence and rules of the work, the material lays down in a perfectly even layer, reliably closes all roughness and cracks, and dries quickly enough, returning the whiteness and smoothness to the bath. However, when ordering such a service, there is a risk of encountering amateurs who can restore with violations – and as a result, the acrylic will swell and turn yellow in the first year of operation of the updated bath. In addition, work with bulk acrylic is often accompanied by the release of a large amount of dust and a strong smell from solvents, so allergy sufferers will have to leave the house for a while.

As for the acrylic tub liners, at first glance, everything is somewhat simpler here. You don’t have to leave the house while work is in progress or clean after work is completed. The cover is durable, beautiful, and easy to clean. Swelling and delamination cannot occur on it, and, according to the manufacturers, it serves for at least 15 years. However, there is one point that you need to be aware of – this is the installation of the cover concerning the position of the bath.

If you have a freestanding bowl, you don’t have to read further: you shouldn’t have any problems installing the bathtub liner. However, if the bathtub side is built into the wall, then there is a need for additional work – chipping the wall under the tab (if the wall is painted) or removing the bottom row of tiles, followed by restoration of the finish. If you are not against such difficulties, you can safely order a tub liner and hire specialists.

Acrylic bathtub liner cost in 2021

Above, we have repeatedly mentioned the availability of acrylic overlays. However, as you know, mathematics is an exact science, and therefore it is worth taking a closer look at the prices for such work.

So, basically, the final price of the renovated bathtub depends on its size and the list of related work. On average, in the USA, the cost for a bathtub liner ranges from $800 to $1,500.

In addition, to the cost of the liner, you have to add the price of work on its installation, as well as such additional services as:

  • removing the bottom row of tiles;
  • installation of a ceramic or plastic border;
  • installation of a drainage system;
  • installation of a screen under the bathroom.

In total, you will spend between $1500 and 3500.

If you desire to spend as little amount as possible when looking for specialists to install an acrylic tub liner, be sure to think twice. The installation of such structures requires high-quality materials and a thorough knowledge of technology, as well as a certain amount of experience – and this should be paid accordingly. In any case, if you turn to professionals with a good reputation (do not save time to find them), then you are unlikely to regret the spending, at least for another 15 years.

Installation of an acrylic tub liner: technology features

We hope you have heeded our advice and are not going to install the bathtub liner yourself. However, if you are interested, we will be happy to give you a general outline of how to do this.

So, the installation of the acrylic cover is carried out in several stages:

  • thorough cleaning of the tub with a grinder and potent cleaning agents;
  • degreasing the surface;
  • preparation of the liner (removal of the technological edge, adjustment of the hole for drainage and overflow);
  • siphon installation;
  • covering the bottom of the bathtub with a special three-component foam;
  • installation of a tab with a tight pressure to the bottom and sides;
  • removing excess sealant, filling the tub with water to check the tightness;
  • sealing of seams;
  • re-filling the tub with water for a day or two to press the tab as tightly as possible to the bottom.

Acrylic bathtub liner: Conclusions + Before and after photos

An acrylic bathtub liner is a great way to upgrade your plumbing without remodel and tedious and messy work. Trust professionals, use high-quality designs – and you yourself will admire how simple it is today to transform the tub and return it to perfect condition.