By James Allen

"ML" asks:
I would like to redo my bathroom. Cannot afford big redo. I have ads for resurfacing the bathtub. Any info on whether it's a good or bad idea?

Personally, I have reservations about "refinishing." But, it is much cheaper than a pull-and-replace. I have heard positive feedback about "Miracle Method." I've no personal experience with them, yet. A plumber I've known for a long time says their product is "very good." Scope 'em out at

Most of these refinishing schemes are basically paint, epoxy or otherwise. "Ionic bonding," "metal crosslinked co-polymers," blah, blah, blah. They treat or etch the surface, then spray or apply the new finish. It's just not going to be the same as kiln-fired baked-on porcelain. Presuming the surface texture is acceptable, the place most refinishing jobs seem to go bad first, in my experience, is at the edges or the drain and overflow. So, how carefully the contractor treats these areas is very important to the overall longevity of the job.

That's not to say it's bad stuff. It may be exactly what you're looking for in terms of budget and aesthetics.

As with any contractor, get references and check out their workmanship, in person if at all possible. You need to see some work that has been done by the actual people that are going to do your project.

Donna of Argyle TX:
I am remodeling a bathroom, and have removed a fiberglass tub/shower unit. I am replacing with a tub, then tiling the walls above it for the shower. I am also tiling the floor, as it is stripped to the concrete. My question is, can we put the tub on the concrete, then tile up to the bottom of the tub? Or are we supposed to tile under the tub? Dumb question I know, but I haven't done this before.

The tub gets roughed in first. Then the wall materials (drywall, Durock, etc). Then the finishes (tile, paint, etc).

Protect the tub from falling objects.

Linda of North Bend, OR:
We would like to replace an existing tub in my folks' house with a Premier Bath, but the Vancouver, CA based company is too busy to come to the So. Oregon Coast. This tub is a walk-in tub which fills after the door is closed, and would be a much safer choice for my elderly father. (He likes baths, my mom likes showers.) Are these tubs made by antone else, or would we be able to install one ourselves, with help from a plumber? The house is on a concrete slab, and the current tub is on a raised platform and even with that floor. The master bath is very small and has a tub and shower w/sliding door.

Ive seen the ads for Premier Bath. Any Master Plumber should be able to handle setting and plumbing that tub, provided the manufacturer provides rough-in and installation instructions. You may need a carpenter, and possibly other trades, to frame and finish the opening. Check and Google for any possible feedback about Premier Bath. Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

Michael of Lexington, SC:
What are your thoughts on the fiberglass tubs being used today? In my last house, the garden tub had a hole start and upon being repaired we were told it was not the first repair and that the tub was defective from the start.

Move forward to new house built this year (2004). Tub Doctor came to repair surface cracks on new garden tub only to find out that he says it has a defective "paint job". We checked the other showers and have found a weak spot in the floor of a tub/shower combination that the gel coat is flaking off and I can see the fiberglass matt.

Are fiberglass tubs just cheap in general or what?

Yeah, I dont know whats happening to quality control. You think some people are getting greedy?

I believe the manufacturing process, in general, strives for standardization and mechanization. That allows for efficient manufacturing. In turn, that gives the manufacturer flexibility in profit vs. market price. High quality can be built into a process, particularly a mechanized one. I think that most manufacturers (I hope) that seek a steady nationwide market prefer to produce a high quality product, albeit as cheaply as possible. Aside from the schmucks that choose to just produce crap, the quality problems arise, I think, more in the distribution branch: stocking, shipping, handling. I imagine even the producers are skimping, but once the product is off and on its way youve got the shippers, wholesalers, retailers, contractors. All that movement!

You may have noticed how much better packaging has become in recent years. I suspect that the handlers must think that they can now throw the stuff around even harder. Im seeing damage on high end products that I just never used to see. The last fiberglass jet tub I installed had a big chunk of the tile ledge fall off. Fortunately it was buried by the Durock and tile, but I was shocked when it happened.

I'm afraid I don't have an answer for you at the user end, but, what's the name of your repairman? ;)

Stephen of Lancaster, PA:
My wife and I just bought our first home. The house has a full bath upstairs and a 1/2 bath downstairs. The upstairs bathroom has a ventilation fan. The downstairs bathroom which is in the center of the home (not near any external walls) does not have any ventilation. The bathroom is small and always has a odor. What can we do? It would not be an easy task to run a vent outside. The odor is pretty noticeable, especially if you leave the door shut. (we have well water, but the water is clean). Any ideas/suggestions?

Pop the toilet and check the wax seal on the toilet. Ive seen renovations where the floor level was raised slightly, but the toilet flange was not. In a couple of cases the seal was just not thick enough, so there was a gap between the porcelain and the wax. The toilet outlet projected past the wax far enough so the toilet drained and did not leak, but, because of the small gap noxious sewer gas was able to enter the room. We double-waxed the seal to solve the problem.

Well water with certain minerals in it, such as sulphur, can stink up the room, too. The water in the trap will be the culprit, in that case. You will have to consult a water conditioning expert.