How Long Does a Reglazed Tub Last?

Soaking tub


Caiaimage/Martin Barraud / Getty Images

Reglazing or refinishing is an option for tubs that are worn, tired-looking, or have other surface-related problems. Reglazing will not help with any problems that continue through the surface or behind it, including studs, insulation, cement board, and drywall. But for any issue that starts and stops at the tub surface, it's a viable option.

Tub reglazing is not forever. It's a good alternative to total tub replacement since it's cheaper, less invasive, and less messy. But it's also less permanent. Built into any reglazed tub project is the expectation that it will not last forever. So, with that understanding in mind, how long can you expect a reglazed tub to last?

How Long a Reglazed Tub Will Last

Based on our experience, the surface of a refinished tub can last three to four years. However, it can last longer if you're the type of person who follows all of the rules well.

In the beginning, we followed the rules, too. We treated the reglazed tub like the fragile object that it is. We never used abrasive cleaners. We cleaned as soon as dirt and soap scum appeared on the tub, knowing that waiting on this requires vigorous scrubbing.

Eventually, though, we stopped following all of the rules and began to treat the reglazed tub more like a through-body tub that didn't have a thin coating on top. Yet we found that even cleaning with abrasives didn't affect the reglazed tub very much. The worst thing that happened was when we dropped a heavy object in the tub. This nicked the glazing (paint) and caused the rest of the glazing to start peeling away.

Timeline of a Reglazed Tub

  • First Year: The tub was professionally refinished in an off-white color and it looked good. The surface was hard and unyielding. During this period, we cleaned the tub according to instructions: no abrasive cleaners, no abrasive pads. We cleaned only with SoftScrub or 409. It was hard work because those soft cleaners always require more vigorous scrubbing.
  • Second Year: During this time, the cleaning schedule tended to slip. Occasionally, dirt rings formed on the sides of the tub, as well as black footmarks on the floor. The soft cleaners just were not cutting it. Here and there we began using bleach-based abrasive cleaners on the tub. Surprisingly, nothing bad happened at first. In fact, nothing happened the next month and the next and the next. Comet cleaned the bathtub but did not strip the coating. If it dulled the surface, we could not tell the difference.
  • Third Year: Then, the unexpected happened. Someone dropped a shampoo bottle on the sloping backside of the tub. The distance of the drop was no more than 3 feet. The part of the bottle that hit the tub was the bottle's soft bottom. Yet it nicked the paint. The nick was not much, just a 1/4-inch-diameter nick exposing the original surface of the tub. The edges of the nick were ragged. As the months went by, water slowly expanded the size of the nick until it was about 3 inches by 1-inch. We did not patch this nick, and it continued expanding. In hindsight, we should have patched the nick or even covered it up.
  • Fourth Year: Even though patching was a viable option, we decided to refinish the entire tub. We used a do-it-yourself kit to refinish the bathtub over a weekend.

How to Make a Reglazed Tub Last Longer

Can you make your reglazed tub last longer? Absolutely. With strict care, you can extend its lifespan to five years, maybe even a little more.

Avoid abrasive cleaners to retain the gloss. While abrasive didn't seem to take off the gloss, without a doubt they were slowly eating away at the glossy surface. A glossy surface is easier to clean than a porous one.

In the end, we found that Scrubbing Bubbles worked best for the glazed tub. This is definitely a chemical-based cleaner, but it worked wonders for stripping off the tub grime while reducing the mechanical cleaning. Kitchen dish soap is often recommended for glazed tubs, as well. We used that a few times, and it worked well.

If you can also somehow avoid dropping anything onto the tub, that will also help. Metal razors and shaving mirrors definitely will nick your tub coating. Use smaller bottles of shampoo and body wash that won't damage the surface if dropped.

Patch nicks immediately. This was obviously the biggest mistake. It's bad enough that the glazing gets nicked, but nicks in glazing never seem to stop there. Have a patching kit on hand or get one immediately. Use a different tub or shower, if you have one, until you can patch the glazed tub.