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#1
Old 07-26-2013, 04:21 PM
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Can You Install a Bathtub/Surround Liner Yourself?

I see those ads for bathtub surrounds, and they claim it goes on in a few hours. Basically, they are just plastic shells that glue onto the walls. Once the glue sets, you are good to go.
It seems like something that would be rather easy to do yourself-have you ever done it? Where can you buy these kits?
I am interested because I have a 1960's bath with a horrible pink tub and pink tiles-I'd like to cover the whole mess up, rather than rip out the tub and tiles (and replace).
#2
Old 07-26-2013, 09:34 PM
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Yes, they're pretty easy to install. Be sure to get the specific adhesive recommended by the manufacturer - some are polystyrene, some are fiberglass, and there may be other materials, and they all go with different glues.

You may need to chip off the pink tiles, depending on the surround you get. Some are intended to mount on flat, virgin wallboard, and some are designed as retrofits and will fit over old file.

Another decision to make is if you want a one-piece unit or a five-piece. The one-piece units are more unforgiving - they either fit or they don't, and if you don't have a van or pickup, they're cumbersome to get home. The five-piece ones come in a flat pack of two flat end panels, a center back piece that probably has a soap dish, plus the two corners.

Places like Home Depot and Lowes sell these things.
#3
Old 07-27-2013, 12:32 AM
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They are a pain in the ass and for the amount of work involved vs quality of the end product are not much of a saving from a basic tile job IMHO. They tend to be a quick fix for rental properties.

If the old bathtub surround is rotten you should take it out anyway instead of burying it; if it is just a cosmetic change, sure it is relatively quick, but a pretty poor cosmetic all said and done.

Caveat: my experience is with 5 or 3 piece surrounds for renovations. I have installed one piece units in new construction, but they are a fixture, not a facade over old product. All the product I have installed has been meant to go over drywall or clean backing, not existing tile. I have not seen the actual product or work of the guys that advertise on TV, and I have strong doubt about the quality or wisdom of the process.

The cheaper ones tend to be styrene plastic which easily scratches, stains, and just doesn't look that great when it is new anyway. The higher end product will be acrylic or gel coated fiberglass, these are a vastly better quality, but also a lot more expensive, lessening the advantage over tile.

Advantages: can generally be done in a single day, in good circumstances maybe just a few hours; generally cheaper than proper prep and tiling.

Disadvantages: generally a much lower quality, shorter lasting solution than tile. Involves multiple failure prone caulked seams. It is relative easy to damage a sheet when working with it requiring a visit to the store for a replacement. Proper preparation of backing will likely involve replacement of the backing anyway, significantly reducing the advantage over tile.

In case you haven't guessed, I would rip out the old tub and tile and replace with new tub and tile.
#4
Old 07-27-2013, 11:55 AM
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I just finished having my tub removed and having new tiles installed. I really looked at those surrounds and didn't like what I saw. I doubt the OP would, either.
#5
Old 07-27-2013, 11:59 AM
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A middle road is to tile over the old tiles. I did that on one kitchen wall because the plaster behind was not sound. You would never know to look at it.
#6
Old 07-27-2013, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FluffyBob View Post
They are a pain in the ass and for the amount of work involved vs quality of the end product are not much of a saving from a basic tile job IMHO. They tend to be a quick fix for rental properties.
I do agree that the quality is lower than a good tiling.

I disagree with the extent to which they are a pain or much savings. They are inexpensive and relatively easy to install by a homeowner. You could replace it two or three times for less cost than a decent tile job, especially if there's no tile backer already on the walls. Caulking will probably have to be redone more often than the panels would need replacing though.

One piece surrounds are a better alternative than these panels. But if tiling is possible to do, that is the best solution.
#7
Old 07-27-2013, 04:40 PM
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I read the thread title as "Can You Install a Bathtub Liner Around Yourself?" Clicked in to see if it was "Need answer fast."

If what I've seen on HGTV is true, the tile and tub can be re-glazed from pink to white. Not sure how good the final result looks, but anything's better than those plastic liners.
#8
Old 07-28-2013, 11:52 AM
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The advantage is a surround is basically a plastic box for your tub. Leak proof and mold proof. Tile is expensive and requires a concrete backer board. You have mildew attacking the grout lines.

You get what you pay for. HD's cheapest surround is $65. I would never put a POS like that in a house.
http://homedepot.com/p/ASB-31-in...2#.UfVLLqzX0Y4

Their $450 to $600 enclosures are pretty good. Not great, but serviceable. This one snaps together and doesn't require calking. Should be easy DIY. Even has corner shelves.
http://homedepot.com/p/Sterling-...5#.UfVLzKzX0Y4

Last edited by aceplace57; 07-28-2013 at 11:56 AM.
#9
Old 07-28-2013, 12:07 PM
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I'm curious about the OP's references to the tub itself. I only know about surrounds that cover the walls (and the pan for showers), not the tub itself. The only thing I have heard of for changing the color of an existing tub are those repainting companies (some of whom appear to do really good work, YMMV).

Do tub covering products really exist and can this actually be done by a DIYer?
#10
Old 07-28-2013, 12:34 PM
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I once visited a house where the owner had re-enameled his bath tub in pale blue. He was quite proud of it - I didn't have the heart to tell him that it looked awful.

I believe that a professional job is pretty good though.
#11
Old 07-28-2013, 09:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FluffyBob View Post
They are a pain in the ass and for the amount of work involved vs quality of the end product are not much of a saving from a basic tile job IMHO. They tend to be a quick fix for rental properties.

If the old bathtub surround is rotten you should take it out anyway instead of burying it; if it is just a cosmetic change, sure it is relatively quick, but a pretty poor cosmetic all said and done.

Caveat: my experience is with 5 or 3 piece surrounds for renovations. I have installed one piece units in new construction, but they are a fixture, not a facade over old product. All the product I have installed has been meant to go over drywall or clean backing, not existing tile. I have not seen the actual product or work of the guys that advertise on TV, and I have strong doubt about the quality or wisdom of the process.

The cheaper ones tend to be styrene plastic which easily scratches, stains, and just doesn't look that great when it is new anyway. The higher end product will be acrylic or gel coated fiberglass, these are a vastly better quality, but also a lot more expensive, lessening the advantage over tile.

Advantages: can generally be done in a single day, in good circumstances maybe just a few hours; generally cheaper than proper prep and tiling.

Disadvantages: generally a much lower quality, shorter lasting solution than tile. Involves multiple failure prone caulked seams. It is relative easy to damage a sheet when working with it requiring a visit to the store for a replacement. Proper preparation of backing will likely involve replacement of the backing anyway, significantly reducing the advantage over tile.

In case you haven't guessed, I would rip out the old tub and tile and replace with new tub and tile.
I'm preparing to replace my shower base and ceramic tile walls now. I reallllllly don't like ceramic tile. While it will last much longer than the surround walls, keeping the grout lines clean is a pain in the ass. That being said, I've never had a surround so I may change my tune once this is done. I'm not looking at the plastic molded kits as much as I am looking at solid surface wall panels. I've not priced it out, but if it's as much as ceramic but is easier to clean, I'm there.
#12
Old 07-29-2013, 01:40 AM
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Surely modern mould resisting grouts coupled with good ventilation are much easier to keep clean.
#13
Old 07-30-2013, 12:15 AM
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I have never seen any product to cover an existing tub - and don't want to, but thank you very much.

If you are asking if you can do this yourself, that is a huge red flag - if you could do it easily, you would not be here asking.

Home Depot does sell some decent products. If you know how to judge them. Mostly, their product line is crap.
I bought a hose bib (the "faucet to which you attach a garden hose) at HD - it has 3 rings of thread. The old one (and the (male, I need female) one I bought back when I had money have 5.

Poor quality products are a pain in the ass to make look decent. Good ones are a pleasure to use.

A HD surround kit installed by someone uncertain of their abilities - I don't want to see it.

A misaligned, warped shiny white surround over an old pink tub is NOT going to increase the property value.

Forget the 1 piece units - unless you can figure out how to get a 5'x6'x2.5' box down the hall and around that corner and through the door - those are for new construction - they go in before the last wall is built.

Remember the rules of remodel:
1. nothing is straight
2. nothing is flat
3. nothing is square
4 nothing is plumb
5 nothing is level

Unless that area is square, straight, flat, and level you are looking at shimming up this point, shaving off that section - your tub is not level - if you don't want the surround to be off-level with large gaps at the corners, you are looking at an advanced skill type project.

AND: If your grout is constantly getting mold, you need to clean it and then go to a real tile & stone store and get REAL sealer.
Go to a large city's old Union Station - that tile is over 100 years old - why isn't it all moldy?

Last edited by usedtobe; 07-30-2013 at 12:18 AM.
#14
Old 07-30-2013, 01:49 AM
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Holmes on Holmes and Holmes Inspection has been using the Schluter Kerdi system. It's a shower stall in box with the pan and these orange waterproof strips that go on the wall. Mike Holmes has used it in dozens of his episodes.

Applying the Kerdi would be hard for an amateur because it's like wallpaper. But Schluter has now come out with a Kerdi board. It's a board with the Kerdi already applied. Mike's crew has started using that in the latest episodes of Holmes Inspection. Installing the Kerdi board is much easier and something a homeowner should be able to handle. Schluter includes a instruction dvd with the kit.

Ceramic tile goes on top of the Kerdi board. I'm thinking seriously about using this system when I remodel my bath. The regular Kerdi wasn't something I wanted to risk because hanging wallpaper can be tricky. But I've installed wall paneling before and the Kerdi board is basically the same thing.
http://schluterkerdiboard.com/

Last edited by aceplace57; 07-30-2013 at 01:53 AM.
#15
Old 11-27-2014, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
I see those ads for bathtub surrounds, and they claim it goes on in a few hours. Basically, they are just plastic shells that glue onto the walls. Once the glue sets, you are good to go.
It seems like something that would be rather easy to do yourself-have you ever done it? Where can you buy these kits?
I am interested because I have a 1960's bath with a horrible pink tub and pink tiles-I'd like to cover the whole mess up, rather than rip out the tub and tiles (and replace).
I am on a fixed income but my tub looks like s##t and I really nedd to reline it .
I am looking for the best price where I can but a liner for my tub...

Thanks, Greg
#16
Old 11-27-2014, 08:53 PM
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I self installed. The hardest part was dealing with what was there (marlite <sic?>). I had to rough the surface for the glue to take well and even with a wire brush on a power drill it was tough and dusty.
#17
Old 11-28-2014, 05:59 AM
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If your grout is difficult to keep clean, it was not worth installing.

I have mentioned this repeatedly, but one more time:

Seal the grout and tile with REAL sealant - there is a reason why the tile in the old train depot is still good and cleans easily, and does not mildew/mold vs. the Home Depot Special which looks like crap in 3 years.
It is (somewhat) the quality of the tile, but mostly the quality of the sealant - if it is found in a big box or TV ("Thompsons Water Seal" is something you slap on a fence to make it look nice long enough to sell the place), it is crap. Find a place which sells real stone - they will have real sealants. In 1984, I paid $85.00/pint. As of 2008 (when I sold), there had been exactly 0 formation of mold/mildew.

The surrounds must be level, and the tub replaced (I have never seen the re-coats, they may be acceptable.).
If you pull the tub, you will find that the tub's flange extends up behind the tile - pulling the tub means losing the lowest level of tile.

The 1-piece tub and surrounds generally are installed before the last side wall is built - there is no room for error - 1/4" off means it doesn't fit.
Are you walls perfectly straight AND perfectly vertical? No? so much for the one-piece units (they are installed on bare studs; wall or backer board is installed over their mounting flanges.

Last edited by usedtobe; 11-28-2014 at 06:00 AM.
#18
Old 11-28-2014, 11:08 AM
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I own 4 duplexes and each one has reached the age where the shower tiles are starting to fail. In two cases I have tried the fiberglass surround approach and I'm unlikely to try that again. In a perfect world you should be able to just knock off the old tiles and glue the fiberglass sheets back up, but in the real world once you remove the tiles you will probably find a nightmare of rotted drywall, moldy insulation and even rotted studs. So now you are no longer looking at a quick afternoon fix, but a major project.

Even so, for the average DIYer the sheets would be easier to install than retiling.

And then there's the pink tub. I've had to replace a tub once and it was the most difficult DIY project I've ever undertaken. Most bathrooms are very compact, and you don't have much room to work in. To remove the old tub you will need to break it up by sawing it into pieces or busting it out with a sledgehammer. To get the new one in, you'll need to tear out the walls down to the studs. Now you have to manhandle the new tub through doors, around the sink and toilet, and drop it into place with virtually no clearance. Now you have to reconnect the plumbing. But wait! The tub now blocks access to the plumbing, so you have to cut a hole in the wall opposite the tub to get to that. Well, as you can see, it's not an easy job.

It may be easier to just learn to appreciate the vintage look of what you have now.
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