Should I repair my old and damaged plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tub or shower or should I replace it?

before and afer image of fiberglass tub repair service by America Refinishing pros

Do you have a damaged, dingy, old, or worn-out acrylic or fiberglass tub or shower and are not sure whether to repair it or replace it? Well, you are not alone, but the good news is that here in this article you will have the answer.

Over the years plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tubs, plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) shower pans, and shower stalls develop problems of multiple nature. The main ones are cracks, holes, chips, scratches, stains, discoloration, and dull surfaces.

The incidence of each kind of damage depends on different factors like the quality of the materials used to manufacture the tub or shower, how correctly the tub or shower was installed and how properly the bathtub or shower is cleaned, used, and/ or maintained, among others.

In this article not only will we discuss each kind of damage that fiberglass tubs and fiberglass showers suffer but we will reveal stats about their frequency, causes, pros and cons of repair, and the feasibility of the option of repair in terms of costs and durability versus the option of replacement.

After analyzing the broad database we have accumulated after many years providing the acrylic/ fiberglass tub repair and the acrylic/ fiberglass shower repair services, we have arrived at some key conclusions.

 

HERE ARE THE KEY CONCLUSIONS FROM OUR FIBERGLASS TUB REPAIR ANALYSIS 

1- Cracks and holes are kinds of damage that occur either due to hits, improper installation, or the use of poor quality materials by the manufacturer.

2- Cracks and holes have been increasing exponentially over the years mainly, in our opinion, because the use of poor quality materials by tub manufacturers is on the rise.

3- Repairing cracks and holes would be a good option mainly when the reason for the damage is not poor quality materials.

4- Chips, stains, scratches, discoloration, and dull surfaces are good candidates most of the time for repair.

5- Repair of cracks or holes in plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tubs or showers is not typically an ideal DIY project.

 

CRACKS AND HOLES IN PLASTIC (ACRYLIC OR FIBERGLASS) TUBS AND FIBERGLASS SHOWERS

Cracks and holes are very frequent problems in plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tubs or showers. The causes for these problems are multiple: hits, improper installation, or poor-quality materials used by the manufacturers.

There has been a surge in the incidence of these issues in the last few years. Based on our broad database, cracks and holes have literally tripled in the last few years. In our opinion, this is because the quality of the materials used by the manufacturers of these types of tubs, in general, has been decreasing progressively over time.

The following graph clearly illustrates a surge in the incidence of cracks and holes in the last few years.

graph showing incidence of cracks and holes on acrylic or fiberglass tub refinishing services in last few years

America Refinishing Pros refinishes thousands of bathtubs in South Florida per year, out of which almost half (around 45%) are plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tubs and/ or showers. The percentages shown on the previous graph are calculated strictly based on the total number of plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tubs or showers serviced from 2015 to 2021, so, as you can see, the trend is unequivocal.

 

In what areas of the plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tubs or showers, cracks/ holes could happen, and what are the causes?

Cracks or holes in plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tubs and showers appear in different areas of the fixture: at the bottom (floor), on the sidewall, or on the inner walls.

The cracks or holes at the bottom of the plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tubs or showers are due to one of the following main reasons: hits, lack of support, insufficient support, or poor workmanship.

This lack of support or insufficient support is usually due to improper installation. It occurs when the contractor installs the plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) bathtub or shower in a way that the bottom remains floating. This reduces the lifespan of the tub or shower considerably because it makes the material fail at some point in time, especially if the tub or shower is used regularly and a user is a heavy person.

On the other hand, when cracks or holes appear either on the sidewall or on the inner walls of the tub it could be because of one of the two following causes: the plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tub or shower has been hit with something heavy and/ or pointy, or the plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tub or shower has been manufactured with poor-quality materials.

In the latter case, sometimes, the materials they are made of are so cheap and fragile that the tub or shower could crack with just regular use without the need to be hit with anything.

We also see quite often that contractors, handymen, or plumbers during the renovation of a bathroom, while making repairs in the bathroom, unclogging the tub, etc, drop a tile or a tool onto the tub or shower and crack it, or make a hole in it. In this instance, a crack or hole could happen anywhere on the plastic, acrylic, or fiberglass tub or shower (bottom, sidewall, or inner walls).

 

Can cracks or holes in plastic, acrylic, or fiberglass tubs or showers be repaired? 

The answer to this question is: it depends. Some plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tubs or showers have been manufactured so poorly that their structure is too thin or too fragile. In those cases, repairing them may not be worthwhile because either the crack or hole could come back or, even if the repair holds, another crack could appear somewhere else in the near future.

However, when the bathtub is made of a thick and solid body, if it is fixed right by an experienced and reputable fiberglass bathtub repair company/ fiberglass shower repair company, the crack or hole will very rarely come back or it will not come back at all. In that scenario, the chances for the tub to crack in another area are really slim or close to zero.

So, basically, when the tub is structurally sound, the plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tub repair or shower repair option is, in our opinion, the best shot for the homeowner. Not only will he/she save time and money, but they will avoid headaches like having to deal with plumbing, tile installation, dust, and debris among other advantages over the conventional remodeling option.

We invite you to read our article Is bathtub refinishing worth it? Why is bathtub refinishing a much better choice? where you will be able to learn about the multiple advantages of this procedure over conventional remodeling and/ or other options available. 

 

How much does it cost to fix a cracked plastic (fiberglass or acrylic)  tub or shower? 

The cost to repair a cracked plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tub or shower varies depending on two main factors: number one, the location, and number two, the seriousness of the damage. Obviously, the worse the situation, the higher the price, being insufficient or lack of support at the bottom of the tub or shower one of the most serious and complex repair scenarios. You can expect to pay an average of  $100 to $350 for a repair of a cracked fiberglass tub or shower, plus the cost of the fiberglass tub refinishing service.

If your property is located in South Florida and you are looking for a fiberglass tub repair company or a fiberglass shower repair company, feel free to click on the button below or fill out any of the contact forms on this page to be able to speak with an expert about your specific situation.

What is the best fiberglass tub repair kit or fiberglass shower repair kit?

There is an abundant quantity of fiberglass tub repair kits and fiberglass shower repair kits for sale out there. You can find them either on the internet or at most of the home repair stores.

However, as a bathtub refinishing company with several years in the bathtub repair service business and thousands of jobs accomplished per year, we can responsibly say that most of those products lack the minimum quality and/or properties required for the repair to be durable and successful, with very rare exceptions.

On the other hand, a project of this nature does not qualify as an ideal DIY project because it takes a few preparation steps that are crucial for the repair to last and most people not only are not even aware but don’t know how to do it.

Additionally, this is a somewhat complex project that requires a certain level of knowledge and training that most people don’t have. Not to mention that some safety measurements should be observed for the sake of the person doing it.

Very frequently we have to deal with amateur repairs of plastic (acrylic or fiberglass) tubs and showers that have failed either right after or in a short period of time after they were done.

So, because of all the factors mentioned above, we recommend you hire a professional, a company with a reputation and experience in the field. It would always save you time and money in the long run.

   

OTHER ISSUES IN PLASTIC (FIBERGLASS OR ACRYLIC) TUBS OR SHOWERS LIKE SCRATCHES, CHIPS, STAINS, ETC. 

Besides cracks and holes, there are other common issues that plastic (fiberglass or acrylic) tubs or showers encounter, like chips, scratches, stains, discoloration, and dull surfaces, among others.

Below we have created a table where we show most of the different issues, what causes them, and whether the fiberglass tub repair option would be feasible in each specific scenario.

We have determined the feasibility based on a minimum of 3 years of life expectancy of the repair,  and taking for granted that regardless of the issue the cost will always be at least 75% cheaper than the option of replacement.

This table could be a very valuable resource for the homeowner to decide what to do according to each particular situation. But keep in mind that our friendly experts are always a phone call away to help you with any doubts or questions you may have based on your specific situation. Feel free to click on the button below for a free no-obligation consultation or fill out any of our contact forms on this page.

table guide about feasibility of fiberglass tub repair option by cause and type of damage over any other option available

As you notice in the table guide above, the fiberglass tub repair option is always feasible except when the damages are caused by poor quality materials used by the manufacturer.

There is one exception to the above-mentioned rule and it is: when stains, discoloration, or dull surfaces caused by poor quality materials used by the manufacturer are only on the enamel or topcoat. The structure or body of the fixture must be solid and reliable for the fiberglass tub repair option to be worth it. That is why we put an asterisk right next to it.

We really hope that this article has been valuable to you and we hope it could help you make better and more informed decisions when a fiberglass or acrylic tub shows damage.

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