Maybe you’ve just moved into your new home and are looking to upgrade to a new bathtub. Or perhaps you’ve lived in your home for years, and it’s finally time to tackle that gross tub you’ve been eying for a face-lift since day one. Either way, when it’s time to upgrade those outdated tiles and slimy grout, it’s time.
Replacing a bathtub can be costly. That’s why so many homeowners opt for bath fitters instead. With fast installation and great savings, bath fitters are the saving grace in bathroom renovation projects. But how much does a bath fitter cost? How much can you actually save?
While the actual price depends on many different factors, most people tend to pay between 3,000 and 5,400 dollars. You can spend as much as 10,000 dollars, but that’s certainly on the rarer end of the spectrum.
In this post, we’ll take you through the benefits, the drawbacks, and how much you should expect to pay for a bath fitter.
So What Does Bath Fitter Cost?
Two things affect the price when purchasing a bath fitter: the price of the actual bath fitter and the installation cost. Most recent estimates put the price at around 700-1400 dollars, but of course, this depends on various factors.
You also need to factor in the cost of installation, which can easily cost a few thousand dollars. Estimates report that the cost of installation typically varies between 4,000 and 7,000 dollars, making this quite the costly upgrade.
Of course, you can try to install the bath fitter yourself, but you need to do it well, or else you run the risk of fracturing the fitter. While this may not seem like a big deal at first, water can seep under the crack and cause mold and decay, leading to a bigger problem later down the line.
If you plan to save money by installing it yourself, make sure that you brief yourself on how to do it properly through proper research. Or, you can pay to have a professional install it for you. The installation cost of a bath fitter starts at $1,000 but can quickly grow if the installer finds more problems. In rare cases, installation can cost as much as 10,000 dollars, but this is on the more occasional side.
What Determines Bath Fitter Prices?
A variety of factors goes into determining the cost of your bath fitter. For one, the size, shape, and material on your current tub and shower play an integral role.
The type of material you choose to make the liner with also dictates the price. Acrylic is one of the more popular materials and the least costly. However, now more materials are even less expensive than acrylic, and as a result, they have soared in popularity. For example, PVC vinyl liners are much less expensive than acrylic and can save homeowners hundreds of dollars.
Another significant factor is the state of your tub before the installation process begins. Some tubs have areas that must be repaired before the contractors can start installing, and instances like these certainly increase the bill for your bath fitter installation.
If you have a lot of mold or mildew that needs cleaning, this will increase the price. Technical issues like faulty plumbing will also need to be fixed before installation, which will increase costs.
Your bathtub size and panel area also affect the price of your bath fitter. As one might expect, the bigger your bathtub, the more expensive the process will be since you will need to purchase more material for the same job. If you have a larger tub, this also might affect how long it takes for contractors to install your fitter, so it will cost more in that sense as well.
The color and material type also influence the price. There are quite literally hundreds of colors, shades, and material styles of bath fitters on the market. From matte to faux marble, there’s a bath fitter for every homeowner. When you choose a more expensive material (faux marble), the price will increase.
Lastly, if you wish to install any add-ons (such as shower shelves or flooring), this will cause the price to go up as it will be an additional cost and will increase the amount of labor your contractor will have to spend on your project.
Replacement vs. Bath Liner Cost
There’s no way around it: bathtubs are expensive. Let’s do a quick comparison of what it would take to replace your tub vs. adding a liner.
Tub Replacement Cost
You should expect to pay several thousand dollars when you purchase a bathtub instead of a bath fitter.
In fact, according to Home Advisor, the average cost of replacing a tub in 2021 is between $1,447 – $7,287 ― and that’s just the installation. The average price of the tub can cost anywhere from $200 to $8,500 or more.
Material Affects Cost
Again, the type of material affects the cost. However, PVC vinyl is not the cheapest option available on the market. Fiberglass liners may cost as little as $200. If you prefer a more elegant solution and pick out a sleek marble appearance, you only need to spend about $2000 on a bath liner.
The bathtub materials you choose will significantly affect the bath fitter cost. Nowadays, you can go for PVC vinyl liners, which are far more affordable than the acrylic option. That way, you can save from $300 to $500.
Bath Liner Pros
There are many benefits to using a bath liner instead of replacing your tub entirely. For one, the process is much faster and much less expensive, making bathroom remodeling easier and much less of a headache.
For another, there is a much lower chance of leakage when you install a bath liner. Check out below for a more in-depth analysis.
Because it’s just a liner, installing a bath fitter has a much faster installation time than replacing a physical tub. When you replace a tub, you have to take out the old tub. There’s plumbing involved, demolition, and so forth.
As a result, installing a new tub often takes days, if not weeks, and that’s if nothing goes wrong in the process. On top of that, if you only have one bathroom, you’re incredibly inconvenienced during the duration of the installation process.
On the other hand, bathtub liners have a much easier and faster installation process. The installer must put the bath liner over the existing tub and seal it. This process typically only takes a single day.
Lower Chance of Leaks
Because a liner is a single sheet of acrylic (or whatever type of material you plan to use), it covers everything from tile to grout to corners. The single sheet drastically slashes the risk of a leak in half. Also, it has much better maintenance because it’s much easier to clean than tile and grout.
Bath Liner Cons
Let’s look at some of the negative aspects of installing a bath liner.
They Aren’t Universal
Each bathtub is different in that they all have different measurements. Some are wider than others, some are deeper, and some are so small you have to contort your body just to fit inside.
That means that there is no one-size-fits-all for bathtub liners. And because they aren’t universal, they have to be custom ordered.
Additionally, some bathtubs can’t have liners. For example, tubs with claws off the ground can’t have liners because there’s nothing to seal the liner on.
On a similar note, bathtubs with water jets can’t have a bathtub liner because there’s no way to cut a hole for the jets without leaking water into your tub. On top of that, some bathtubs may be too damaged to be re-lined. If you have a bad case of mold or rot on or around your bathtub, ripping out and replacing the tub may be the only option.
Because bathtub liners are not universal, you must make a special order to have your liner shipped out. That means that once you place the order, you can’t make any last-minute changes to the design. In that regard, you must be very careful only to place the order once you’re confident in the measurements and design.
It Takes Time
Between having an installer come to your home to do the measurements, choosing the style, placing the order, and then installing the piece, the process of installing a bath fitter takes time. Many different steps go into getting a bath fitter, and the entire process usually spans over multiple weeks.
They Can Crack
While the seamless sheet of acrylic is unlikely to leak, it can develop cracks if not installed correctly. Also, leaks can occur on the edges where it is sealed to the wall or around the drain.
Once water seeps in behind the liner, mold and mildew will build up underneath the fitter, which can cause a foul, odorous smell, and will also feel unpleasant underneath the liner as the liner will be squishy and soft.
Bath Liner Suppliers
Some national suppliers for bathtub liners include:
Maybe you’ve decided that a bath fitter isn’t the right option for you, or maybe you’re trying to weigh out your options. Either way, here are some alternatives to buying a bath fitter.
Refinishing the Tub
Instead of purchasing a new liner, some homeowners opt for the cheaper restoration option of refinishing a new tub. This involves applying a new surface to your existing tub. It’s more like a painting than covering it with a new sheet of acrylic. Refinishing costs a fraction as much as lining and can restore an old tub to a like-new appearance.
Tub refinishing usually costs a few hundred dollars, and it should only take about a day or so to complete. Refinishing is an excellent option for those with tubs that are not compatible with fitters (like tubs with water jets).
However, there are downsides. The recoating may need to be done again in as soon as two to five years. Compare this to the limited lifetime warranty of many bath liners. Refinishing could be a good choice for a more temporary solution, but not for the long haul.
If you’re looking for something more permanent, you might need to have to replace the tub altogether.
Replacing the Tub
You can also replace the tub is another option for those who want to do a more thorough job, although this can be very expensive and time-consuming. It will cost you probably 7,000 dollars to install and another few grand to purchase the tub itself.
On top of that, installation may take a few weeks, depending on plumbing. However, once you replace the tub, you will be good to go for several years, and in that way, this is a great long-term investment.
Hiring a Contractor
If you don’t have much experience with installation, hiring a contractor may be a good idea. As mentioned, if you install the bath fitter incorrectly, this could lead to much more serious (and more expensive) problems down the line. It’s imperative that you install the bath fitter correctly the first time; if you’re not confident, hire a contractor.
Using a contractor will also greatly help you measure the fitter correctly, which can be rather difficult to do on your own if you don’t have the experience.
Plus, when you use a contractor, you can also upgrade and install additional features such as replacing your bathtub knobs to make them more current, adding a soap holder, etc.
Final Answer on Bath Fitter Prices
It’s difficult to come out with an exact price since the cost of your bath fitter depends on how much work needs to be done on your existing bathtub, the dimensions of your tub, the material you’d like to purchase, and so forth.
However, most people spend a few thousand dollars, and the typical range is between 3,000 and 5,400 dollars. Some homeowners go all out and end up paying as much as 10,000 dollars.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most common questions regarding bath fitters.
How much does a bath fitter cost?
The material itself typically costs between 3,000 and 5,400 dollars, depending on the type of material used. Of course, acrylic and PVC cost much less than other material types, so if you’re looking to save costs, start with those materials.
How long do bath liners last?
A typical bathtub liner will last homeowners anywhere from 3 to 5 years, but it depends on the condition of your tub and how strong the liner is. After a few years, you should consider replacing your liner so you can avoid damage to your tub and reduce the risk of unpleasant odors.
Why should I choose a bath fitter?
A bath fitter is an excellent choice because it has easy installation and is much cheaper than buying a tub outright. If you want to give your bathroom an updated look but don’t want to spend too much money, a bath fitter is the way to go.
Is Bath Fitter any good?
Yes! The company Bath Fitter (who first invented the concept of a bath fitter) is an excellent company that still installs bath fitters to this day. They always install quality work, although they do tend to be a little more expensive than using an independent contractor.
Can you install a tub liner yourself?
You can install a tub liner yourself, but you must be sure to install it properly, or else you can crack the liner, which will result in water and mold buildup underneath your liner.
To install a tub liner, you first must prepare the bathtub by removing the knobs,
Then, apply adhesive to the old bathtub. Make sure to spread the adhesive evenly over the surface and not leave any gaps or spots uncovered. You also need to apply a sealer (a substance that goes around the outside edge of the liner to prevent water leaks).
After that, put the liner in place. You can cut off the excess material with a utility knife. Make sure to press down on the liner to make sure all of the air is gone. Some people like to place heavy pieces of furniture on the seal to make sure that the material sticks. Others use tools like rubber mallets to push along the liner to get rid of any air.
Apply a thin bead of caulk around the edge of the bathtub. Doing so will keep moisture out and create a finished look.
Allow the bathtub liner to dry. In most cases, you should allow it to dry for at least 24 hours before using the bathtub again.
How does a bath fitter work?
A bath fitter is a large piece of material (usually acrylic or PVC) sealed over your old tub to give your bathroom an updated makeover. Through strong sealant and adhesive, the liner is installed and, if done correctly, keeps water out from underneath your tub.
Bath fitters are a fantastic tool that homeowners can use to give their bathrooms a much-needed face-lift without paying the exorbitant fees of purchasing an entirely new bathtub. If you’re planning your next bathroom renovation, consider a bath fitter today.
About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.