Many people look forward to the part of the day when they can enjoy the tranquility of a shower or bath. However, if you spend that time distressed about your outdated space, dingy tub, or low-performing fixtures, then it might be time for a tub or shower makeover—a step that can enhance your whole bathing experience.

Quick Fixes

Replace the fixtures. Replacing the faucets and controls is an easy and inexpensive way to update the space—brand-new fixtures can modernize the bathing space and contribute to the bathroom’s decor. One-, two-, or three-handle controls are typical; keep in mind that it is easiest to retain the existing setup if you’re merely replacing fixtures.

You could also install a new showerhead. Choose one with different spray types, or consider adding a hand shower—its hose, available up to eight feet long, allows you to aim the spray, making washing hair and cleaning the shower area easier. Hand shower and fixed showerhead combinations are also available, as are sliding bar systems that allow the hand shower to glide up and down a vertical bar and then lock into place, making it perfect for people of different heights.

Eliminate the shower curtain. If you have a combination tub/shower, adding doors to the tub is another way to upgrade your bathing area. Bypass doors—doors that slide along a frame mounted to the tub walls—are the most common, and they are available with different styles of frames and glass to give your bathroom a fresh look.

Shower and Bathtub Updates

Refinish the tub. Refinishing the tub’s surface is typically the least expensive way to spruce up the tub and can be done in practically any color. In general, the process begins with a professional refinisher cleaning the tub and making any repairs. Then, the refinisher will use acid to etch the surface—enabling the new finish to adhere—and after that, an epoxy coating and a polyurethane finish will be sprayed on. This usually takes about four hours of work. The refinishing process uses toxic chemicals, so the refinisher should wear proper equipment and ensure that the bathroom is well ventilated. Normal use of the tub is allowed after 24 hours. A refinished surface usually lasts from 10 to 15 years.

Install a liner. A liner is made to fit perfectly over your existing tub or shower—think of it like a new shell. An installer measures your tub or shower, and then a liner company uses an exact mold of your area to craft the liner. Liners are made from quarter-inch-thick acrylic and are available in neutral colors like white or cream. It usually takes three to six weeks to receive the liner, and then the installation is about a day’s work and includes cleaning the area, attaching the liner, and installing a new drain. After installation, you will be able to bathe in your brand-new area that same day. Liners that cover the surrounding walls can also be purchased; these are available in various patterns and colors, allowing you to completely change the style of your bathing area. Liners are more expensive than refinishing—and that cost increases with the wall surround systems—but are much more durable.

Replace the tub. Tubs are available in many different styles and materials, but when considering your options, remember that the new tub will need to fit through your entryways. Buying a standard tub can be inexpensive; however, the cost of installation will up the total price—especially since tiling and plumbing will likely be affected—typically making a tub replacement the most expensive option. The old tub will also need to be removed and disposed of. Some homeowners find a replacement not worth the mess and opt for a liner or refinishing instead.

If you’d like to get rid of your tub in exchange for a newer, more modern look, you could convert the space to a stand-alone shower. If you only take showers and don’t have much use for a bath, this change would not only improve the functionality of your space but also transform the appearance of the bathroom. Stand-alone showers are typically either custom enclosures or manufactured stalls. The prefabricated stalls are usually made of acrylic or fiberglass and consist of a base, door, and walls; and they are available in many colors, sizes, and shapes.

These updates can pay dividends for your home now and in the future, so you want to be sure the work is done correctly. When plumbing is involved, do-it-yourself mistakes can be costly. Consider hiring a licensed professional to ensure a quality execution of your tub or shower makeover.

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Sources: Better Homes and Gardens; EBSCOhost Home Improvement Reference Center: Three Budgets, Three Smart Shower Updates; National Kitchen and Bath Association; The New York Times; This Old House.

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