A. Jim Wagner, general manager of Ark Porcelain Refinishing Service, (165 Prairie Lake Rd., East Dundee, 773-763-6600; arkrefinishing.com), thinks there are three reasons to get a bathtub refinished and you’ve got at least two of them. “One is cosmetic—if you want a new color,” he says. “Two, if a tub is damaged or has wear-erosion. And three, old finishes have lead in them and the process of refinishing a tub encapsulates the lead so that it can’t leach out into the water.”

Ark’s pros use a modified silicon epoxy, available in white and custom colors, and apply it with a compressor-sprayer. They prep your tub by removing all caulk, stripping it of old paint, acid washing it, and then fine sanding it. They also mask your bathroom to protect it from spray. The process takes about three to four hours, and the glaze takes a week to cure before you can get it wet. Refinishing a standard-size tub in white costs $400 to $500; colors cost about $50 more. Wagner says the refinishing lasts about 20 years, depending on how much the tub is used and how carefully it is maintained. He recommends using a foaming or liquid cleanser such as Scrubbing Bubbles.

Lectroglaz of Chicagoland (347 Maid Marion Dr., Schererville, Ind.,708-532-1551) uses an acrylic material on the tub that’s available in white or any bathroom-fixture color. It takes a day to prep, mask, and glaze the tub and two days to cure. Refinishing a tub in white costs about $325, $350 in a color. Lectroglaz provides a five-year full guarantee on workmanship and materials; if you follow the maintenance recommendations (Dawn dishwashing soap and Scotch Brite pads), the finish should last more than ten years.

All Surface Custom Coating (3 Golf Center, Hoffman Estates, 888-309-5246) uses a nontoxic polymer called Kott Koatings that, according to owner Warren Wall, is EPA- and FDA-approved for food preparation surfaces. All Surface experts bring their own ventilation system and can prep, mask, and spray a tub in about two hours. The glaze takes 72 hours to dry; if your tub is porcelain, you can have the finish heat-dried to speed up the process. In either case, there is no curing time necessary and you can use your tub as soon as it’s dry. Wall recommends cleaning it with Soft Scrub or Bon Ami and says a new finish will last 20 years. Glazes are available in white or custom colors. The average price for a standard tub is $350, $39 extra for colors.

JUST ASK Have a design or renovation question? We’ll do our best to answer it.
E-mail us at chicagohome@chicagomag.com. Sorry, we cannot take questions by phone, or guarantee individual responses.