a white bathtub liner with a faucet fixture against brown walls

Bathtub Liner

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 2/25/2021

Whether you’re looking at installing a newer bathtub with some more modern functions, such as jets or an easy access door, or you need to replace your current tub because it’s damaged and worn, the decision to replace a bathtub can be a difficult and potentially costly one. However, there are a few different options available that could potentially save you both money and time. If you’re looking for many of the advantages of a new tub and shower without all the costs and hassles of a full renovation, one option may be to install a bathtub liner over your current tub situation.

What Is The Purpose Of A Bathtub Liner?

A bathtub liner, which is sometimes referred to as a shower liner, is a molded insert that installs over your old cast iron or steel bathtub. These inserts are typically made from acrylic or PVC plastic, but more expensive models may incorporate different design materials, such as marble or other types of natural stone. They are typically installed by professionals and are often custom-fitted to your old tub, although prefabricated models are available for eager DIYers who want to tackle the job themselves. Most designs consist of two pieces, one to cover the tub and one to cover the walls, which also makes it easier and less time consuming for the installation. They cannot be installed over old acrylic or freestanding tubs.

Did You Know?

If you’re wondering what purpose a bathtub liner serves, just consider how much time and money you could potentially save by installing one, instead of going with a brand new tub. On the surface, a freshly installed insert may seem almost as good as a new tub. However, there are a couple of things to consider before making a final decision:

  • On the plus side, in many cases, an acrylic liner is quicker and less costly to install than a full replacement, allowing for the walls and floors to remain intact, which isn’t usually the case with a full renovation.
  • Nevertheless, a bathtub liner is really only a cover up and doesn’t address any underlying structural or other problems that may exist. Also, because they are typically separated into two pieces, there is always a chance for water to seep between the old surface and the insert.
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