December 29, 2009
There are plenty of companies that offer tub liners. The familiar catch phrases “1/2 the cost of new,” “no mess” and “a new bath in one day” ring out over the radio, television and in print ads. But…
The true cost of a bath liner goes far beyond dollars.
Many of us have the good sense to know that to cover up a problem does not make the problem go away. Yet, so many people look at bathtub liners as the inexpensive answer to a problematic tub/shower. They may look nice, offer a quick remodel with minimal inconvenience and fit a meager budget, but the true cost of a bath liner goes far beyond dollars.
Bath liners are thin, preformed plastic pieces that are placed over the existing tub and shower walls… as is. This creates two problems. Any existing water damage is given the opportunity to thrive. Uncontrolled mold growth takes off at lighting speed in the moist darkness, wrecking havoc on the health of the occupants. Headaches, coughing fits, nausea are all common complaints of homeowners whose homes are infected with mold. Any pipes leaking in walls continue to feed the mold and degrade the surrounding structure of the home.
The second issue comes from the liner directly. Since the liners are preformed plastic, it will not fit your tub tightly. A small gap may form between the tub drain assembly, your tub and the liner. As you shower, each step you take causes a shifting to take place and water is inevitably sucked up between the tub and the liner. This water will exchange itself with progressive showering, but the area will never dry. This creates an unhealthy environment where mold and bacteria proliferate.
By the time you are aware that there is a problem, the price of cleaning up the area has grown exponentially. What was once a $7,000 tub/shower project is now a complete gutting of the bathroom and possibly nearby rooms. The dollars add up, your health is in compromised and, in all probablity, your homeowners insurance will not cover the damages.
How is it that these companies can knowingly provide you a product that can compromise your home? Easy. They take no responsiblity for existing conditions. They promise nothing but a gimmick – “a new bath in one day” for less than what it would take to do the project right. You will not get a refund for the service or product because they delivered exactly what was requested of them as per their contract. If you have them remove the product, they will charge you for the added service.
Your best defence is to be educated and then vote with your dollars – you get what you pay for. If there wasn’t a market for this charade of home improvement, these companies would not exist.
Normal wear and tear on a bathroom is going to happen. But don’t be fooled, the signs of water damage are distinctly different than the signs of use:
- Tiles falling of the wall.
- Soft or mushy areas on the wall.
- Sour or musty smells, especially after a shower.
- Grout discoloration in select areas.
- Salt peter or calcium build up in the grout.
- Difficulty keeping the bathroom mold free.
If you find any of these issues, call a reliable contractor to come out to your home to assess the space. The problem will not get better on its own and the sooner you have a repair, the less expensive it will be.
If you don’t have water damage and are just looking for a way to zip up an outdated bathroom without the expense of tearing the room apart, I would recommend looking into tub spraying. Instead of covering up the area, tub spraying is essentially painting the tub with a fresh coat of enamel. This treatment can also be done to the wall tiles. The effect lasts for about 5-10 years, depending on the level of use the room sees.
Is there any bathroom that is a good candidate for a tub liner? If the tub/shower area is terribly outdated in a bathroom that sees limited to no use – then yes, a tub liner is an option. Otherwise, save your money, time and health.
Written for Imperial Kitchens and Baths Inc, by designer Stephanie Bullwinkel, CBD.