The difference between a bathtub liner and a total wet space replacement
A bathtub liner is simply a sheet of custom-built acrylic that covers your wall or shower tile and tub basin or shower floor. On the day of the bathtub liner installation, the installers will clean your bathtub or shower surround and glue the new materials into place over the old tub and wall tile.
While a bathtub replacement can look somewhat similar from the outside – as it is also a custom-built acrylic piece – the installer will entirely remove the old tub or shower tiles and prepare your walls and subfloor for the new materials.
Pros and Cons of Bathtub Liners vs. Bathtub Replacements
Both liners and acrylic tub replacements have different options in color and texture to choose from. Since the panels are made from acrylic sheets, both options will also give you a seamless, modern look that mimics tile surround designs. They can both be a great way to take an outdated wet space and transform it into a modern spa-like are, however there are a far greater range of options and styles when doing a replacement.
If your old bathtub is simply stained or scratched, then it may be fine to have an acrylic liner professionally installed over the top. However, if your current bathtub is leaky or you notice any signs of mold or water damage beneath the tub, on the tile surround, or in the caulk, you’re better off with a wet space replacement. With a total replacement, the installers will remove any old materials and fix the walls and subfloor to ensure that they are watertight and no mold is growing under your acrylic panels.
If your current wet space has an uneven surface that causes an odd layout or tilt to the shower pan that prevents good drainage, then adding another layer on top will only make the issue worse as it is the same design, just a bit higher. If uneven surfaces are one of your current design challenges, then a total replacement is a better way to go.
Tub to Shower Conversions
When you choose to replace your wet space, rather than simply cover what’s there, you have the option to convert a bathtub to a shower or vice versa. Depending on your layout, you can drastically change the function of the space with a replacement by turning an existing tub into a tub/shower combo or removing a high-walled tub for a seamless step-in shower. This type of transformation isn’t possible with a tub cover, as you are limited by the design that is already in place.
Acrylic bathtub liners and bathtub replacements both have great accessibility features such as shower seats and grab bars that you can build into your design. However, only total bathtub replacements can offer a zero-entry or curbless shower that allows you to step or roll directly from the bathroom floor to the shower floor, making a wet space replacement the better option for aging-in-place.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Both a tub liner and tub replacement will be far easier to clean than traditional bathtubs or showers with tile surrounds. The liner and replacement panels are both made from acrylic material so that they can be washed with a warm water and vinegar solution. Whichever option you choose, you can say goodbye to scrubbing with harsh chemicals.
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