Toronto GTA Bathtub Repair-Realtors can Help

December 6, 2008 Article for the Toronto Star by Jennifer Brown

When Bruno Cristini was renovating one of his rental properties last year, he realized that to put in new ceramic floors and improve the overall look of the unit’s living areas would be going halfway. If he really wanted to give his tenant a complete reno, the bathroom was a place he would need to put some work into, specifically, the bathtub.

After years of use, the tub surface was “scuffed and ugly,” says Cristini. “It was not appealing.” But when Cristini, a real estate broker who owns several investment properties in Toronto, realized what would be involved in removing the tub from the Don Mills-area condominium, he started having second thoughts. The tight bathroom was put together when the condo was built and getting the tub out would involve taking extreme demolition measures.

“It would have been a nightmare to remove,” says Cristini.

Replacing the tub would have been costly. Christini priced a replacement tub at about $1,000, not including installation costs. It’s a common problem faced by tenants and landlords who have bathrooms in small spaces with narrow door openings.

In addition to replacing the tub altogether, other options Christini contemplated were an acrylic or vinyl insert over the old tub, or a self-glazing kit, but he wasn’t interested in doing it himself.

Instead, he opted to have the existing tub refinished for about $500.

“They did it in half a day. We were at the (rental) unit a few weeks ago to collect the rent and it looked good,” he says.

Three materials are commonly used for reglazing tubs: epoxies, acrylic urethanes, and polyester polymers.

The company Christini chose uses advanced polymer – materials that are formulated around a polyester base and can be applied to ceramics, steel, cast iron, acrylic, and fibreglass surfaces and claims to be durable, stain-resistant, high-gloss and easy to clean.

Christini hired The Tub Guys, a Toronto-area company that specializes in bathtub and tile restoration.

“The problem with replacing a tub is it can be difficult to take out. Often you have to cut it on the diagonal and take it out in pieces. If the tiles are okay and the integrity of the drywall is good, you can save some money,” says Will Wientjes of The Tub Guys.

A standard steel tub takes about four hours to refinish, providing it is clean, undamaged and silicone-free. Cast iron tubs (usually dating from 1920 to 1959) or footed tubs (claw or ball-footed, usually pre-1940) take about an hour longer. Old castings are often rusted at the drain and overflow, and require repairing.

“We remove the old hardware, such as the overflow plate and drain body, and look at the gasket to see if the hardware needs to be replaced, otherwise water can get under the glazing and create bubbling,” says Wientjes. “It is important that the glaze seals the tub right to the edge under the drain body to prevent future lifting of the glaze.”

It takes about 48 hours for the process to dry and cure before it can be used.

It is estimated that resurfacing can last about 10 to 12 years with proper care, however, longevity is dependent on use and care.

“We had some tubs done earlier this year and so far it’s okay,” says Roy Perez who runs a property management firm in Toronto. “So often in the past, when we have had to replace a tub you have to demolish the wall area and this was a lot easier and cheaper and was a way to save the tub.”

Care of the tub after reglazing requires just dish soap and water. In fact, Wientjes says many of today’s abrasive cleaning products are to blame for the demise of many tub surfaces.

There are also cheaper solutions, such as a DIY bath resurfacing kit from Tubby Canada that can be purchased for about $85. The kits can be used on cast iron (enamel) baths, steel, plastic, fibreglass, and acrylic baths.

It will also cover ceramic and porcelain surfaces in the bathroom including bathroom sinks, toilet exteriors and bidets. One kit will cover eight square metres of tiles coated once.

Home improvement and hardware stores also carry DIY kits retailing for about $50, but success is dependent on how well the product is applied.

Toronto Star

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