Home Refinishing and Replacement

When your bathtub or shower surfaces go bad, all-out replacement appears to be your only hope.  And while nothing can compare to the quality of full replacement, there are intermediate solutions that are less expensive, faster, and cleaner that may satisfy your needs.

Acrylic liners for bathtubs and showers promise just such a solution to a decrepit tub or shower.  However, as with any other cover-up, this fix comes at a price.

What Are Liners?

Bathtub liners and bathtub refinishing are two methods of covering up your bathtub, shower pan, and walls.

Liners are solid pieces that are installed over your existing tub or shower; nothing is removed.  By contrast, refinishing is sprayed on epoxy paint.


Liner Construction

Liners are made of acrylic, the same material that composes new, pre-fabricated bath and shower stalls.  While the acrylic is heavy gauge, it is not as thick as acrylic used for bathtubs and shower stalls.


Separate Sections:  Base and Walls

Liners come in two sections:  bottom and top.

  • Bottom:  For bathtubs, a unit that looks exactly like your original tub forms the bottom.  For showers, this bottom unit looks like your shower pan.  In each case, these units are single, unified, seamless pieces, which makes them waterproof.  The only entry points for water, then, would be around the drain and at the top of the liner.
  • Top:  For both tubs and showers, a second section of wall panels called the surround extends above the level of the tub liner or shower pan.

Because of this dual-piece method, you can conceivably install only the bottom section, leaving your walls untouched.  However, some liner installers say that they will only install bases in concert with walls.

The stated reason is that the junction between the top of the liner and your existing wall is a prime area for water infiltration.  By including wall panels, the installer can ensure a watertight fit.



Tub and shower liners may cost more than you imagine.  If you are not vigilant about finding competitive prices, you may end up paying as much for a liner as you would for full-out replacement.