Can plastic, acrylic or fiberglass bathtubs or shower stalls be reglazed?

fiberglass bathtub refinishing project by America Refinishing Pros

A huge percentage of the bathtubs and shower stalls that are manufactured nowadays are made out of plastic, consisting in a variety of polymer materials among which we can mention something called ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene), acrylic resins, or glass-fiber reinforced polyester.

 

Many people tend to believe that those tubs or shower stalls cannot be refinished, however, although there is one main difference in the procedure compared to the steel tubs or to the cast iron tubs, these plastic tubs or shower stalls can indeed be resurfaced as well, as long as the products used are the right ones. This procedure is called bathtub refinishing also known as bathtub resurfacing or bathtub reglazing. For the shower stall it would be shower refinishing, shower resurfacing or shower reglazing.

Among the top coats that are used by the reputable professional refinishers for these acrylic tub reglazing service or shower stall reglazing service we can mention three main groups: polyurethane, epoxy and acrylic polymers. Some manufacturers even use a combination of the 3 in the pursuit of better qualities. Most of these top coats are two-part substances that, when mixed, create a chemical reaction that will harden and crystallize for a higher level of resistance to persistent humidity, exposure to shampoos, soaps and other chemicals, among other adverse conditions in the bathrooms.

 

There is also one common myth around bathtub refinishing and shower refinishing: many people believe that nobody can stay in the house the night after the procedure is done. That is not true. All the professional bathtub reglazers use a powerful exhaust system during the process to vent out all the fumes, which means that even though there will be some smell, especially for the first few hours, by just keeping the bathroom door close the odor is in most part contained.

 

The costs for a procedure like this, with a professional service provider of good reputation, varies depending on the state and on other factors like condition, whether it has been painted or not, etc but for a standard size bathtub ranges between $200 and $350 and for a shower stall of average size between $400 and $700.

 

THE PREPARACION STAGE OF FIBERGLASS BATHTUB REFINISHING OR FIBERGLASS SHOWER REFINISHING

 

The preparation of the surface of any tub during the bathtub refinishing or shower refinishing process is as important as the quality of the products used, and in the specific case of plastic tubs or shower stalls this stage is very similar to that of cast iron or steel tubs with only one main difference: there is no acid wash. The process starts with a deep clean up. For that purpose strong degreasers and other potent cleaners are used to remove mold, mildew, water scale, grease, soap build up and other substances that adhere to the surface.

 

Once the surface is totally clean the tub or shower stall is sanded down very thoroughly and any irregularities found are patched and evened out with fine sanding paper. The idea is to make the surface as smooth and even as possible for spraying. All the old caulking is also removed. The surface is then vacuumed and wiped down to leave it completely out of dust and any dirt particles. Now the tub is ready to be sprayed.

 

THE SPRAYING STAGE OF FIBERGLASS BATHTUB REFINISHING OR FIBERGLASS SHOWER REFINISHING

 

The spraying stage consists of 2 phases: the application of the bonding agent and the application of the top coat. Both phases are crucial. The bonding agent varies from company to company. Many reputable refinishers like America Refinishing Pros use two types: a primer with epoxy properties and a special type of glue. The main purpose of the bonding agent, as its name states it, is to increase the level of adherence of the top coat. The primer not only also absorbs any small irregularities on the surface but  it creates a solid background color. The technician based on his expertise will assess which one must be used depending on the specific situation of the tub or shower stall.

 

After the bonding agent dries completely the tub or shower stall  is ready to be sprayed. At this point several layers of the top coat will be applied until the surface looks thick and all the product shows perfectly smooth and shiny. The bathtub or shower stall should not be touched or put in contact with water for around 12 hours.

 

OUTCOME OF FIBERGLASS BATHTUB REFINISHING OR FIBERGLASS SHOWER REFINISHING

 

These plastic, acrylic or fiberglass tubs are normally not too shiny when they are brand new, so since the professional-grade top coats are very glossy and have a lot of body, after the bathtub refinishing or shower refinishing is done they usually look way more beautiful when compared to their original appearance. The whole process for bathtub reglazing takes around 2 to 3 hours and for shower reglazing around 3 to 4 and a high percentage of the customers that we have even say that they did not expect such a huge transformation and quality of final product.

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