Though Dan Miller has more time on his hands than he did before he retired from his work as a capital improvement inspector, he still can’t see using that time to refinish his bathroom.
But work needed to be done. He’d probably re-grouted and re-caulked his 36-year-old tiles and shower stall in his Olathe home four times over the years. He’d cleaned and cleaned his fiberglass shower stall basin and couldn’t make it sparkle.
So, when Miller’s aunt mentioned that she’d had her kitchen countertops refinished without demolition, he was interested.
Before committing to that route, Miller also checked out the possibility of using a bathtub liner. Mainly, he wanted to avoid tearing everything out. He didn’t want the mess and time commitment, and he knew the price would be in the thousands.
Several area companies, independently owned, franchised and big box, offer demolition-free, lower cost refinishing services, and they seem to be equally popular and in-demand.
One method of redoing a bathroom is through refinishing its surfaces. Companies like Miracle Method, which is a franchise, and A-1 Porcelain Refinishing, which is locally owned, offer resurfacing. Another method uses drop-in liners that fit over the existing tub and tiles.
Mike Nield became a Miracle Method owner 14 years ago. His is based in Independence and services the eastern half of Kansas and the western half of Missouri.
He says that what originally made a name for Miracle Method was its unique adhesion technology. “What that means,” he says, “is we found a proprietary way to adhere our coating in wet situations like tubs, sinks, countertops. We solved the peeling problem back in 1979.”
By using a high-gloss, scratch-resistant aliphatic or acrylic urethane, he can update floors, tile walls, sinks and countertops made of porcelain, fiberglass, acrylic, cultured marble or laminates.
“If a laminate counter costs about $2,000, we’re probably going to cost $1,000 to $1,200 — that’s a complete price: tax, labor, materials,” he explains. He’ll refinish a tub for $595.
For comparison, a high-end, stand-alone, cast-iron tub costs upward of $2,000. And though a built-in tub might run only $300 new, there remains the issue of tearing it out, disturbing the surrounding area and disposing of it.
Craig Hodkins, owner of A-1 Porcelain Refinishing, worked as a real estate broker before he got into refinishing bathrooms 30 years ago. He recalls that bathroom and kitchen remodels typically bump the value of a home by 5 to 15 percent.
A-1, which services a 60-mile radius around Kansas City, also charges $595 to refinish a tub. Hodkins’ method is similar to Miracle Method’s: an aliphatic urethane and bond coat that is a two-part catalyzed 100 percent epoxy product — he likens the bonding agent to super glue. He began using his current formula 15 years ago and says he has just a 1 percent failure rate.
Hodkins offers a 10-year warranty on his coating, and Nield warranties for five years, though he expects it to last at least 15.
Each company offers a huge variety of colors. Hodkins says he can do up to 1,900, including variations of faux granite.
Another attraction to refinishing without demolishing and buying new is that it takes less time. Both companies say an average job takes just two days. The majority of the work is surface prep, such as cleaning with a special solution and completing minor repairs.
However, for a homeowner who simply wants to start over, many companies, like Bath Fitters and Home Depot, offer installation of a liner that fits seamlessly over the existing tub and its surrounding walls.
Home Depot district service manager Kendra Bailey says, “It’s one of the less expensive projects if you want to take a look at a full bath remodel. It’s also less invasive.”
The material the company uses is a durable acrylic that is easy to clean and doesn’t crack, peel, rust or mildew. “It fits right over the existing tub, so there’s no deconstruction” and can be done in a day or two.
Typical cost of materials and installation of a liner from Home Depot is $3,500.
Some companies can refresh cabinetry as well, using a laminate wood veneer rather than a coating. Pulls and drawer glides can also be replaced.
None of these quick methods includes changing out the toilet or faucets, though each company will facilitate that work by hiring another contractor on the homeowner’s behalf.
After a lot of thought, Miller decided to use Miracle Method. He knew he wouldn’t want a stamped-on tile design; he likes having real tile.
Miller laid new laminate flooring and replaced the toilet himself. He purchased new tub and sink fixtures, and a new sliding shower door, all of which Nield and his team will install with the help of a plumber.
All told, Miller spent $600 on the toilet, floor, fixtures and shower door, then $1,400 on the countertop, tile and shower basin refinishing.
He has chosen white for the stall basin and a dark gray granite finish to coat the tiles and the countertop.
And when Miller’s remodel is complete, not only will he have kept his original tiles, but he knows he’ll never lose another second of his retirement to caulking or doing grout work.