Like everyone else these days, I'm on the lookout for home improvement projects that can change the most while costing the least. My search includes quick and affordable projects that take only a matter of days to complete and add value to your home. If your bathroom looks fine except for a dingy, scratched or discolored tub or tub/shower combination, installing a bathtub liner can spiff up the room in quick order.
Today's bathtub liners are manufactured in a wide range of colors, take only one or two days (total) to install and the durable acrylic used in the product resists chipping and staining. There's no need to tear anything apart in your bathroom and, aside from disrupting your bath schedule for a few days, installation doesn't interfere with your bathroom use. That means you won't have to rip out the toilet, flooring or tile to lay the new liner over your existing tub--all without needing new grout. You can change your whole bathroom with a single make-over.
Home improvement for less than $5,000
A new bathtub liner costs $3,000-$5,000 installed, which is considerably cheaper than having to embark on a week-long $12,000 bathroom remodeling project for a new-tub installation. It's a great way to save money. And you won't have several weeks of intrusive trekking by contractors as they lug a new tub and surround into a bathroom you won't be able to use for the duration.
Liners are typically 1/4-inch thick. Installing a new liner starts with using a cleaner like denatured alcohol to strip off any substances that can interfere with liner sealants making a solid grip with your existing tub. You need to stop the water to the tub and remove your fixtures. (If you're adding new fixtures, this is the best time to do it, but make sure you match the replacements with existing plumbing.)
Once the sealant is down, you press in the new liner and run caulk around the edges to bar any leaks once the sealant has dried. And just like that--after a day to let the sealant set and dry--you can relax in your new tub.
Best results come from single-layer liners, but if you can't find one that perfectly matches your existing tub, you may need a double-layer liner. New liners have an average service life of up to 20 years.