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To Replace or Reglaze? The Story of the Garden’s Bathtub.

It’s tough to say what has made the biggest difference in the garden’s bathroom progress. The fresh white paint? The scrubbing and re-grouting of the subway tile? The plumbing swap and rearrangement of the toilet and vanity? The door’s new out-swing? Yes, yes, yes and yes, to all of the above. Each upgrade has been playing an important role to create a bathroom that’s as sweet as it is functional, but the one we’re going to focus on today is getting our bathtub refinished!

Originally, we thought we might replace it. It’s not cast iron, no; we’d say it was more of a 90s special that we’re betting was on clearance, and an unnecessary design detail on the outside made it feel even more dated. That said, we asked our contractor, how big of a deal would it be to replace the tub with something… nicer? After he explained that we’d need to rip out the bottom few layers of subway tile, replace drywall and, likely, rough in new(er) plumbing (and then replace/repair the missing tile), we gave our whole replacing-the-bathtub-thing pause. A bit of internet sleuthing only confirmed our contractor’s thoughts, and suddenly a $300 bathtub replacement was looking closer to $1k.

So! Reglazing the tub won out! And now that it’s done, we can honestly say that we’re super satisfied with the outcome. We called a handful of companies, but the high reviews for Joe at Correa Custom Coatings won us over. (Not to mention, he was only one of two guys to call us back after leaving messages with at least six different people!) He was friendly, on time, and the entire process took three hours and cost us $240.

As you can see, the tub was embedded with stubborn stains, chips in the coating and a whole lot of rust (likely due to those ventilation issues we had to correct!):

Joe and his brother arrived around 9AM, and they were done by noon the same day. I asked him if I could be a fly on the wall to watch the process (we’ve always been so curious about how this works!), and he happily agreed with one caveat – due to the chemicals used in the process, he would call me down to take photos of each step, rather than hanging out in the garden unit with them. Something to note: I’ve found that a lot of contractors are actually excited to meet homeowners who are interested in their work. They love giving advice and sharing their step-by-step, and more often than not, they request my photos to add to their portfolio! Win-win.

The first step was using a potent etching liquid. He simply poured it into the tub, and he used a rag to swish it all around, inside and out:

After the etching liquid was cleaned up, the tub instantly looked better! Almost brand new. I’m not going out on a limb to say that, at this point, it was already the best it’s ever looked:

Next, an epoxy was used to fill any of the chipped paint, and then the subway tile and floor was masked off and covered. He used an intense spray primer to get it ready for the finish coat!

Throughout their process, they ran a duct from the bathroom and out through one of the living room windows. The duct was connected to a powerful fan, and it helped to blow the fumes outside, rather than allowing it to get trapped in the apartment. The smell was intense! If you’re sensitive to spray paint or strong aerosol cleaners, this was that, ten-fold. I’d recommend planning on leaving the home if that doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time.

The last step was spraying the final coat, which was glaringly whiter than the so-called ‘white’ we started with! Joe and his brother left all the masking and paper in place, and he asked us to wait a full 24 hours before disturbing the bathtub. The next day, Scott removed the protective paper, and we were left with a pretty, pristine tub!

We allowed it to sit for the next few days – we were deathly afraid we would ruin it! – but the finish was smooth and hard as a rock. I took 30 minutes and used a tough silicone caulk to go around the tub, up the corners of the tile, where the tile meets the ceiling, and down the sides of the tub where it meets the wall. Lastly, I taped off a straight line along the floor tile and caulked that, too, pulling up the tape after smoothing the bead of caulk:

Finally, we replaced all the fixtures using a combination of new and replacement parts. I mentioned here that we had a hell of a time finding parts that would fit the existing plumbing, but we did our best eliminating every last bit of the yellow brass. The tub drain was especially tricky, and we were worried that pulling the rusty thing out would have the potential to cause a burst pipe. Our options were to either a call a plumber to remove it professionally (in the off chance something did happen), but when I explained our worries to Joe, he recommended one of these handy guys! Essentially, it sits right on top of the existing drain, a solution for old house dwellers like ourselves!

Joe provided us with a 5-year warranty, and I’m betting that if we hadn’t volunteered it ourselves (to save a wee bit of cash), he would have come back to handle the caulking.

You guys, the bathroom is looking pretty cute right now. We still have a few more things we’d like to share before the final reveal, but we are over the moon with the shape of things. It cannot be the same room. It’s adorable! The sweetest little bathroom!

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  • Lori6.26.17 - 11:14 AM

    Oh, very nice! I have the same situation in one of my bathrooms, and was wondering about the whole process. Thanks for doing the in-depth step by step!

    Also, do you ever have issues with the caulk you use around wet areas getting moldy? Maybe I’m using the wrong product.ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.26.17 - 11:35 AM

      It might be the product, but it very well could be ventilation issues in the bathroom. Does your room feel damp, even with the ventilation fan an hour after a bath/shower? That could be the cause… but when you’re choosing a silicone caulk, many of them have lifetime warranties against mold/leaks! We do replace the caulk every handful of years (just to keep it looking clean and nice), but a good warranty is still nice to have. ReplyCancel

  • Monica6.26.17 - 11:40 AM

    Question – and I’ll bet the answer is “no” but I’ll ask anyway! I have an old cast iron tub that we kept in our reno because it’s lightly stained but still solid and the enamel is not chipped or otherwise damaged. Could I just use an etching liquid to get rid of the stains, or does the tub have to be recoated after you etch? I’ll eventually reglaze but am wondering if there’s an interim solution.ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.26.17 - 11:42 AM

      I can’t answer for sure, but I’m thinking “no.” :) The etch leaves the finish pretty dull, and I can only imagine it would be more susceptible to dirt/grime/stains. I think it would be worth it to wait until you can take on the entire job start to finish!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle6.26.17 - 11:55 AM

    What a transformation! Thanks for sharing the step-by-step process!

    Our old tub is from the 1950s so likely cast iron and no surprise, it’s in pretty rough shape. We’d love to get it reglazed at some point, but I’ve heard you need to be really gentle with cleaning it afterwards. Did your guys give you any scrubbing tips??ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.26.17 - 12:24 PM

      Hmm, he didn’t say one way or another! It feels really tough, and we’re hoping with the warranty, it will outlast some scrubbing!ReplyCancel

  • Tia6.26.17 - 12:13 PM

    Regarding the smell, was your cat okay during the process? I’m interested in having my tub reglazed and wonder if it’d be best to take the cats away during the process (which is easier said than done with my two guys…lol).ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.26.17 - 12:25 PM

      Luckily, the garden apartment is on an entirely different level of our home, so we couldn’t smell it up here. The smell is REALLY strong, and we aired out the apartment for a day or two with all the windows open, so I would suggest doing it in warmer weather so you don’t freeze! Depending on how sensitive your cat is, I think it would be helpful to take your cats away during the process.ReplyCancel

  • katie6.26.17 - 12:21 PM

    We reglazed our blue cast iron tub at our old house – I was so impressed with the entire process! We were also looking at replacing the tub but decided to try the reglazing process first. I think we paid about the same that you did, and we were also changing the color. The tub looked brand new. We had no issues with cleaning, staining, chips, etc. We used it for about a year after before selling our house. Just wanted to add our experience if anyone is looking to change colors :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.26.17 - 12:26 PM

      Thank you for chiming in! We love hearing this feedback.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Wilson6.26.17 - 1:49 PM

    I’m so glad you included a cost! I’m dreaming of a full bathroom remodel with a claw foot tub. If I can’t talk my husband into it, this’ll probably be the budget version. And it is a beautiful option! I can’t believe they were able to fix those chips!ReplyCancel

  • Paige Flamm6.26.17 - 7:45 PM

    My in-laws just reglazed the tub at their house! So fun to see how the process actually works!


  • Laura6.26.17 - 8:03 PM

    I put the original cast iron kitchen sink back when I remodeled and wanted to have this done plus, my tub looks pretty blah too. I called several places and not one called me back! Looks great, btw!ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa6.26.17 - 8:57 PM

    I did that about seven years ago to a perfectly good brown bathtub that I wanted to be white. It was in a bathroom that my boys used and unfortunately attracted the attention of my 8-year-old who was racing his little cars down the wall and into the shiny new tub. I didn’t see him in action and we ended up with tiny chips at the bottom of the run. I was pretty mad when I figured it out. I know that you won’t have that problem with your new renters but I did want to point out that it’s more like a paint than the original bathtub finish. Still it’s a very high level of cleaning and a big improvement.ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.26.17 - 9:15 PM

      Ooh, thank you for sharing our experience! I guess it could be toy cars or someone dropping a hair dryer, but you’re right – still a massive improvement from where we started!ReplyCancel

  • Corey6.26.17 - 9:18 PM

    I have to say that the wife and I own a resurfacing company here in spokane, wa and you can’t go wrong with resurfacing your tub. We also have a 5 year warranty with our jobs. It really looks amazing when finished.ReplyCancel

  • Staci6.27.17 - 4:44 PM

    What a transformation! I wonder if I could have this done to the tub/shower combo situation I have in my condo. I truly love that it’s zero upkeep (no grout, no corners) but it’s almond colored -_-ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.28.17 - 8:45 AM

      In reglazing, you can choose a new color of your choice!ReplyCancel

  • […] had our bathtubs reglazed in May. Yellow Brick House has now done the same, so I feel real good about our […]ReplyCancel

    • Amy Lynn12.29.18 - 1:31 PM

      How has this held up so far? We’re thinking of reglazing our tub but have heard mixed reviews about the durability of the new coating. Thanks friends. :)ReplyCancel

  • Amy Lynn12.29.18 - 1:31 PM

    How has this held up so far? We’re thinking of reglazing our tub but have heard mixed reviews about the durability of the new coating. Thanks friends. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.1.19 - 10:32 AM

      It’s in our rental unit, and we haven’t seen it recently. So I don’t have a huge update for you, but I can tell you that the results was money very well spent! It would be a solid solution for many years, we were told.ReplyCancel

  • Diane1.26.20 - 12:30 PM

    I had a bathtub refinished and now the white grout on the walls has turned yellow/orange. I can get it clean but it comes right back in a few days. The shower is never used only the bathtub. Any ideas as to what could be causing this? Wondering if the materials in the reglazing of the tub interacted with the grout. ReplyCancel

  • Terea7.14.21 - 9:23 PM

    Hi there! Not sure if you will see this comment, but I was wondering how your refinished tub has held up since you had it refinished. We have a cast iron tub that I refinished using a kit from Home Depot and it hasn’t held up well after a few years of use in my kid’s bathroom. My gut tells me the tub would hold up better if I had it professionally refinished. Thanks for your help! ReplyCancel

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