Refinishing a Turn-of-the-century Cast Iron Bathtub

Answered by Jeffrey ~ January 10, 2011 ~ Comments

What information can you give me regarding refinishing/reglazing a turn of the century cast iron bathtub? I have a turn of the century cast iron tub that is chipping badly on the inside. Have you heard of Zirlon? If so, what is your opinion of this coating for durability and longevity?

Jean ~ Zionsville, Indiana

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Jean, I have read about Zirlon, but have not seen first hand any tubs that have been refinished using this method. I know it's a fairly new method of refinishing bathtubs; I believe it was first introduced in 2009 and it is supposed to be more environmentally friendly that some of the other methods for refinishing a cast iron bathtub. I've done a little more reading about it since receiving your question and I've found quite a few bathtub refinishing companies that offer Zirlon and talk about what a great product it is, but very few customer reviews. I'm sure that's partly due to it being fairly new, but I'm always leery of using a new product until I've heard some good things about it from customers who've gone before me.

I'm not sure how Zirlon's costs compare with other refinishing methods, but it appears to have a 5 years warranty which is what most refinishing companies offer. A professional refinish of a cast iron bathtub should last a lot longer than 5 years, but in most cases that is the longest official warranty you're going to receive.

If you want to know more about Zirlon and how a cast iron bathtub refinished with this process holds up, I suggest you contact some bathtub refinishing companies around Zionsville. I'm not sure how large the community is so you may have to broaden your search a little further into Indiana to find a contractor who uses Zirlon in their refinishing business. If you find someone, I would ask them for a list of customers who have had tubs refinished using that process and the older the better. Any tub that has just been refinished is going to look good, but the big question is how the finish holds up over time. If you can find some customers who had their tubs refinished in 2009 and they've used the tubs on a regular basis since then without the finish flaking off or cracking, then the product might be worth trying out.

Most bathtub refinishing contractors I know use a several step process that ends up with several coats of acrylic urethane enamel being applied to the tub and if you use someone who knows what they're doing, the tub can turn out looking like new no matter what type of shape it was in to begin with. Even deep chips can be filled in so that you'll never know they were there. The whole process can be done in your home and usually takes from 6 to 8 hours depending on the shape your tub is in. You can expect to pay about $300-$500 per tub, but you should check on local pricing as it can vary depending on your local market.

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