One of the first things we consider during a bathtub refinishing project is what type of bathtub material a bathtub is made of. This determines how the tub needs to be prepared before the new coating can be applied, and it determines how we will conduct any repairs that need to be made. Some bathtubs require a little extra preparation ahead of time, but most bathtub refinishing projects can be completed in a day.
In this guide, we will explain how to determine what material your bathtub is made of so you can have a better understanding of the refinishing process.
Step 1 – Press on the Side of the Bathtub
If you press on the side of your bathtub and it has a little give, chances are it is made of acrylic of fiberglass. These materials are still durable enough for day to day use, but they flex slightly under pressure. If you press on the tub and it does not move at all, it may be constructed from enamel coated steel. You can determine that in the next step.
Step 2 – Inspect Surface Damage
If you’re looking into bathtub refinishing, chances are you have some sort of damage on your tub. Porcelain coated steel tubs do not crack easily, but they are susceptible to chipping if a heavy object falls on them. If you have a chip out of the tub surface, look closely for rust or other signs of metal. If you have cracks or scratches on your bathtub, it is probably made from fiberglass or acrylic. Fiberglass bathtubs are known for fading on the bottom over time, and that fade is particularly noticeable in colored bathtubs.
Step 3 – Hold a Magnet to the Tub
Steel and cast iron tubs are magnetic. If you hold a strong magnet near the wall of the tub, it should stick. You may already have magnets on the bottom of your shower curtain to hold it in place and keep the water inside the tub. If the magnets do not stick, that is a definite indicator of fiberglass or acrylic.
Step 4 – Look for Extra Supports
Cast iron tubs are heavy and usually require extra support beneath them. If your bathtub has some sort of framing around it, you may be able to remove an access panel to look for additional supports. You could also check the crawl space or basement underneath the bathtub, depending on how your home’s foundation is set up. Most claw foot tubs are made from cast iron, but there are some constructed from fiberglass and other materials.
How Bathtub Material Affect Bathtub Refinishing
Almost every bathtub material can be refinished, but the material itself impacts how we go about the refinishing process. We use special tools and chemicals to repair cracks or chips in the tub before applying the enamel coating on top. Some tubs take longer to repair than others, but we will let you know all of that in your free bathtub refinishing quote. We can still complete the process much faster than a new bathtub installation, regardless of the construction material. Contact Maryland Tub & Tile to schedule your no obligation consultation.
Choosing the Right Material for a New Bathtub
If your current bathtub is beyond repair or you are reconfiguring your bathroom altogether, you may need to purchase a new tub instead of refinishing your old one. At that point, you need to weigh the pros and cons to determine which bathtub material is right for you. Here are some specs to keep in mind: