Asked on Dec 13, 2015

Ugly tub surround

by Cathi
We recently moved into a very old home (built in 1902) and we're trying to renovate as best as we can. One of the things that I just can't seem to figure out is what to do with the tub surround. It's really ugly and I'm hoping someone has a suggestion about how I can make this a bit more attractive. Replacing it isn't in our budget.
The main problem is that it looks like the wrong adhesive was used when it was installed. It seems to have bled through the plastic and in some places has eaten all the way through. I'm afraid if we paint it, you will still be able to see these lines. Any suggestions? Oh, it's in our downstairs bathroom which we will never use to shower in. The tub is used mostly for watering large plants, cleaning large items and filling buckets.
Can you see the lines I'm talking about? They're both horizontal and vertical. Looks like the wrong adhesive may have been used.
This is a close-up of the soap dish area where it looks like the adhesive ate through and was later "fixed" with putty. UGH!
Another close-up. Help!
  18 answers
  • Kathleen Mckirkle Kathleen Mckirkle on Dec 14, 2015
    I think if it were me, I would strip it off completely. You may be left with bad walls, but repairing the plaster underneath and a quick paint over with washable paint wouldn't cost very much. If you are not using it, other than what you say, that should be enough to keep the splashes from sinking into the wall. Just an idea...........
  • Suzan Suzan on Dec 14, 2015
    They have at Home Depot were you can get just that part and they do not cost a lot, put it on top of yours
  • Lynn Lynn on Dec 14, 2015
    My upstairs bathroom tub surround was really ugly and worn (Marlite) up so I painted it...just too ugly...I bought some marked down solid vinyl wallpaper and glued it down with carpet glue thinned out. I haven't used the shower yet but if it peels off I'm not worried there is Marlite underneath. The money is tight with us too.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Dec 14, 2015
    I found this site. how to paint a surround tub.This could be your solution.
  • Maidena Maidena on Dec 14, 2015
    You could also try smoothing it out with durabond 90 or something and spraying it with that stone finish spray. It goes on thick and if you get gray and it would look like a concrete surround.
  • Pat whitmus Pat whitmus on Dec 14, 2015
    I've seen wallpaper used and it was successful. It requires about 3 coats of verathane to seal it well. You can find headboard wallpaper on line for about $30 as an example.
  • Pat whitmus Pat whitmus on Dec 14, 2015
    sorry...word was "beadboard"....not headboard! spell check rewrote my intended word!
  • Cathi Cathi on Dec 14, 2015
    Thank you for the input everyone! I've got a few ideas now, I just need to absorb them all and make a decision. I didn't think painting it would work since it would still show through, but the stone finish is certainly a possibility. If that doesn't work, I may just try to tear it down and put up some real beadboard. Decisions, decisions...
    • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Dec 14, 2015
      @Cathi no worries take your time and do the research as i am sure it will all turn out ok.
  • wow. painting would be like putting lipstick on a pig! If you're up for doing the work yourselves, it wouldn't cost too much (depending on what you go with). I would pull it down and put up hardi-board. Even if it takes a few months to save up. Do everything yourself and you could tile it for a few hundred. And yes, you could do a beadboard too, providing u aren't going to shower in it. You can find some great deals on Craigslist for people that have leftover tile, board, grout, wood, everything. Check it daily. But no way would I bother painting that. Put the money to better use.
  • Cathi Cathi on Dec 15, 2015
    Yes, we've been doing everything ourselves. We're new at all of this, so I've been doing a LOT of research and trial and error. So far, things have worked out very well. We're in our 60's, so there are some physical limitations as well. Plus we both work full time, so it's going to take years to do everything that needs to be done. It's been quite difficult at times, but OH, so satisfying!
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Dec 15, 2015
    Just clean as best you can and put on the bottom of the to-do list. I think this project will be a gut and redo one. Just save up for it in the meantime.
    • Cathi Cathi on Dec 15, 2015
      @Marion Nesbitt Ya, it's not high on the priority list right now. The rest of the bathroom needs to be redone, I just wasn't sure how to tackle this part of it.
  • DarWat DarWat on Dec 17, 2015
    If you are not going to use it to bathe and shower, why not hang a beautiful shower curtain to cover it.
  • Dianne Dianne on Dec 17, 2015
    I would suggest putting a colored glass panel that they are making for bathrooms. i personally would love to have them over my tiles but they don't come cheap, they come in very large sheet. I am having mine sprayed, along with the bathtub & sink, I have wall to ceiling cream tiles. Good luck with your decision.
  • Jean Myles Jean Myles on Dec 18, 2015
    How about contact paper? This will cover it up since nobody uses the tub or shower except you. It will at least hide the ugliness. I can relate my home built in 1946 and I am also in my sixties with more projects than will ever get done in my life time. Some projects are permently on the bottom , some times a job just drives you crazy . So cover it up and at least it looks nice to you. Good luck & enjoy!
  • Nancy Nancy on Dec 20, 2015
    A nice curtain and put a plastic shelf unit inside the tube for temp. storage if not using. My folks saved up and had the whole tub removed and a low profile shower floor with wall grab rails installed instead. It came with a one piece per wall unit and with hand held shower unit makes it disabled easy access for now and future. and the guy did it in one day. It cost them about 5,000, but it was worth it for a safer, bathing area. We are thinking about replacing garden tub with walk in tub at our house since we both have back issues and can't use a regular tub safely anyway. Good Luck
  • Debi53 Debi53 on Dec 23, 2015
    Check to see if you have a company in your area that does a chemical bonding process. We had this done in all of our bathrooms-tub surrounds and vanity tops 5 years ago. They are in and out in 2 days with no contruction and the results are amazing.
  • Katie Lloyd Mansfield Katie Lloyd Mansfield on Dec 23, 2015
    I would pull it off and use beadboard to cover the walls. If the tub isn't used for showers, beadboard with two coats of paint should hold up.
  • Snapoutofit Snapoutofit on Dec 23, 2015
    Get some quotes at Bathfitter or a similar company, you'll be glad you did:,%20OR%20Corp%20US%20Search&cid=[cid]&st-t=ppc_unbranded&mkwid=sMmqw0CGB_dc|pcrid|104315444708|pkw|surround%20tubs|pmt|p