If your tub is sporting stains, chips—or worse—cracks, it’s time to think about replacement or repair. Generally, that means deciding between a new tub or refinishing your old bathtub. Either option can also be useful if you’re remodeling your bathroom and want to change the look of your tub. No matter why your tub needs an overhaul, here are some things to consider when trying to decide whether you should replace or refinish your bathtub. What is Bathtub Refinishing? Before we get into the pros and cons of each option, you might be wondering what refinishing even is. Refinishing is a bathtub repair method where the surface of your tub is sanded and then recoated. You can think of refinishing kind of like painting your nails—it’s just a cosmetic outer layer.

The Condition of Your Tub

That out of the way, the most critical factor when choosing between refinishing and replacement is the condition of your tub. While refinishing is far more affordable than replacement in most cases, it can’t fix everything. Severe cracks or holes typically are beyond what refinishing can handle. If your tub is in reasonably good condition, though, and just has discoloration, and maybe some small chips and light scratches, refinishing can be a solid choice. Refinishing is also an excellent choice if you only need to change the color of your tub to match a remodel.

What Kind of Tub Do You Have?

Some materials take to refinishing far better than others, so the type of tub matters. Cast iron and steel tubs are ideal candidates for refinishing, while more modern—and cheap—tubs may not fair as well. This point also leans into cost comparison. Could you buy a new tub for the price of the refinishing? When it comes to antique or high-end tubs, refinishing is almost always the more cost-effective approach. With more modern fiberglass tubs, that’s less of a sure bet. How Hard Would It Be to Replace Your Tub? A cast-iron clawfoot weighs between 200 and 400 pounds. Can you get that out of the house? Especially if you have stairs, the feasibility of removal and replacement quickly becomes relevant. Obviously, this applies less to lighter-weight tubs, but don’t forget to consider the labor involved in your choice. Whether the tub will fit through any doorways is also noteworthy. That could require either making the doorway temporarily larger or deconstructing the tub in your bathroom!

What’s Your Goal?

Finally, consider what you want to accomplish. If you’re going to fully remodel your bathroom, including changing the look of your tub right down to its shape, refinishing is off the table. However, if you just want to repair minor damage and maybe even change the color of your tub’s finish, refinishing is a great choice.

The Final Verdict

To sum things up, while there are a few instances where replacement is necessary, in most cases refinishing is going to be the more cost-effective, labor-friendly option.