budget dilemma: keep old whirlpool tub?

lisa_aJanuary 29, 2012

We're trying to find ways to trim the master bath remodel budget. We've found some small savings already but it might not be enough. So I'm eying the tub.

18 years ago, our builder talked us into a whirlpool tub. I didn't want one, don't really care for them. I much prefer a soaking tub with soft music and bath oils, which doesn't mix well with a whirlpool tub. But we were swayed by our builder who said that everyone wants whirlpool tubs and that it would hurt us at resale if we didn't have one. I've regretted that decision every since. We've used the tub about 6-8 times. What a waste. I've dreamed about replacing it with a soaking tub for a long time.

So now we're redoing the bathroom, updating the finishes from laminate and vinyl. If ever we were going to replace the tub, now's the time to do it. Enter stick shock.

So now I'm second guessing myself, thinking that if I've only used the tub 6-8 times in all these years, I can probably live without a soaking tub for the 5, 10, or 15 years we expect to remain in this home.

But then I wonder if keeping an older whirlpool tub - with its yellowing jets - will be an issue when we sell.

On the other hand, so what if it is? If it bugs the next owners, they can replace the tub.

Argh, help, I am mired in analysis paralysis.

Have any of you faced a similar situation? What did you do? I would appreciate any words of wisdom. TIA!

(I don't suppose there's an easy way to make those yellowing jets white again, is there?)

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If you can afford it, get your soaking tub - from the way it sounds you just won't be happy unless you do change out your tub. We had a big ugly oval shaped tub from 1985 and we just hated it, so we got a Kohler underscore tub (see link). Our contractor's price on it from a local plumbing supply place was $688. You can get a Kohler Archer for around $400 but it is two inches shallower.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kohler Underscore Tub

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 3:59PM
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Thanks for replying, lynneblack.

I could probably live with not having a soaking tub (forgot to mention that I had my heart set on a cast iron tub, there's the ouch factor). However, what concerns me is whether leaving the old tub in place will be shriek-out-loud noticeable (perhaps a bit over-dramatic? ;-) if everything else in the bathroom is either new or getting a facelift.

Maybe I should consider an acrylic tub instead. I like cast iron because it retains heat better but something's got to give. We just put a cast iron tub in the boys' bathroom (their toilet flooded, did a lot of damage, hence the remodeling) ... would it be weird to have a cast iron in there but not in the master? We put a cast iron tub in their bath because that room isn't over an insulated space (over a deck) so it tends to stay cooler as a rule.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 4:54PM
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That's a false economy. Get the soaking tub, just don't get the 4K soaking tub.

The real way to economize on a remodel is to DIY as much of it as you can. Failing that, self GC and hire the trades directly. Use plainer simpler items in unique and varied ways.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 4:58PM
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Definitely replace the tub if you can. Otherwise, it's going to wreck your renovation satisfaction. Shop for a good deal on a soaking tub that will make you happy.

Is there anyway to recoup some $$ by selling the whirpool tub on someplace like craigslist?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 5:23PM
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Thanks, GreenDesigns. Oh, and I wasn't considering a 4K soaking tub. They are in the 2K to 3K range. That's for cast iron.

Are you suggesting that I should consider acrylic, even though the 2nd bath has a cast iron tub? Would that be weird? Or maybe no one will notice. Maybe I'm the only one obsessing over this detail (that's a good bet).

My DIY contribution is to paint all the walls and ceilings. Can't do much beyond that given hubby's work schedule (lots of overtime - unpaid - ahead). We're already working with a contractor (who's been aces) and we've made economical choices as often as possible. For instance, we're shopping the remnant yard for the counter. Did that successfully in the other 2 bathrooms.

I realized that in all the years we've been in our house, we've paid out less than $10K to hire someone to do two home improvement projects. We've done everything else - fencing, decking, landscaping, irrigation, 250+ feet of rock retaining wall (lifted literally tons of rock doing that), fireplace mantel and bookcases, all the interior painting.... I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around hiring someone but we don't have the time or the knowledge to do more than we're doing already. And maybe we've earned a break.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 5:32PM
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Missed your post, coolbeans (love your screen name).

Yes, we could sell it. Friends of ours who removed a whirlpool tub that was a few years older than ours but used about as frequently, sold it for $250 on Craig's List. I'd forgotten that so thanks for the reminder to check into this.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 5:35PM
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I have the Kohler Greek tub which is acrylic. It holds the heat really well--almost too well--it doesn't cool down at all! Maybe it is because the tub is very deep. But the Archer which someone mentioned is pretty deep too. So I would change the tub and go with acrylic to save some money.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 6:03PM
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nycbluedevil, that's great to hear! I just looked your tub up. I think I remember your reveal. Maybe the other reason why it retains heat well is because it's only 4' long - less surface for the water to cool.

Our current tub doesn't retain heat well but it is 18 years old. Plus it's huge and they only gave us a 40 gal hot water heater so by the time the tub was almost full, we were running out of hot water. Another reason why it saw little use.

btw, we're also replacing the water heater during this process. Ours is on borrowed time - we've repaired it once already.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 6:21PM
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lynneblack, would you measure the inside of your tub for me, please? Our tub is 6' long and 36" wide but it has a fairly large acrylic deck so the bathing portion isn't as large as it sounds.

The Underscore looks to have a fairly small deck, which should mean more bathing area. Plus, it's deeper than mine by 4" so I might be able to get the 5'5" tub, not the 6', without losing bathing comfort. That would also mean that we'd gain a little more tile deck area, which would be nice since ours is quite small for the size of the tub.

Also, how do you like the sloped back? Hard to tell from the drawings at Kohler's page but it seems like it would be quite comfortable. I have to slouch so much in our tub that I get a back ache because I'm unsupported.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 6:52PM
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I found the specs on that tub. Just needed to look in the right place. ;-)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 7:18PM
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Just looked up the Underscore--great looking tub!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 8:34PM
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Yes, it is. It's moved to the top of my list (thanks for the suggestion, lynneblack). Now I just need to find a place that has one on display so I can sit in it and see how it feels.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 11:50PM
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the underscore is a nice tub for the price, my husband is a bathtub guy (I like showers) and he sat in the tub and said it was just perfect (he's about 5'11" 175 lbs)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 11:54PM
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Lynne, your 5' long Underscore tub fits your 5'11" husband? Wow, good to know. I was afraid it might be too short for anyone taller than me (which is most people ;-).

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 12:45AM
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I just wanted to comment that my personal beliefs are to do what pleases YOU when you decide to remodel your home and not second guess what a future buyer may want. TV shows have convinced people that they must do this or that to please would be buyers, when in fact, it is more important to please yourself if you plan to live there awhile. When you do sell your home, a buyer will appear that likes your home. Everything doesn't have to be brand new or a certain style. Generally buyers will want to make changes themselves, just to make a place seem their own. I've actually seen on tv shows, buyers ripping out thousands of dollars of perfectly fine previous remodeling efforts, just to make changes. It's my pet peeve that some shows suggest that owners must do things to please future buyers. Don't believe that; it's your home, so choose to please your tastes. Make yourself happy in your home!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 11:39AM
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@Lisa, he said the size is perfect, our old oval shaped tub was about 6' x 40" but more shallow than the new one he said there's no way a person his size needs a 6' tub since if you laid yourself out flat in the tub you would drown or need a snorkel lol

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 11:55AM
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"...need a snorkel." Ha, that made me LOL, too!

Thanks, lynneblack, I'm glad to hear that the 5' fits him. I like that it only takes 81 gallons to fill up, not the 102 gallons the 5.5 version requires, and yet it's still a great soaking tub. Ha, "only" - 81 gallons of water is still a lot of water. At least we'll finally have a water heater large enough to fill a tub that large.

lachase, I'm trying to keep the "what will future owners want" voice to a whisper as much as possible but it's hard to do. And it has nothing to do with HGTV, it's the way I was raised. My folks tended to fix up the homes we lived in just before putting them on the market. We lived with dog-pee stained carpets for 9 years only to get new carpet right before moving. I refuse to do that but the whole get-new-stuff-for-the-next-owners is pretty firmly ingrained in me so it's sometimes hard to stifle that thought process.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 12:21PM
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A couple of points...if you will use the soaking tub regularly, if it will give you enjoyment, then why not pull the trigger and get it. It's a tub, not a towel bar. Meaning that it's an in-your-face fixture. It's big. It'll stare you down every day. Will you make excuses to friends and explain away the rationale for holding on to the old tub when you show then your renovation? How much will that old tub gnaw at you if you hold on to it?

Like others wrote, sell your old tub. If you get $50 or $500, who cares. You sold it. You got something for it. If it doesn't sell, donate it to a resell store.

Don't fret over cast iron versus acrylic. Having CI in one bath and Acrylic in the other, no big deal. Also, Acrylic today, the molds are better, the engineering is better...today's acrylic is not the acrylic of yesteryear.

So...keeping the old tub versus getting the new one...never mind resale, think about how it will affect you and how you'll use the bathroom.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 3:48PM
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Thanks, mongoct! And wow, have we met? How else would you know that yes, I would rationalize and make (flimsy) excuses to my friends about why we kept the old tub? ;-)

After reviewing everyone's feedback (isn't GW great?), I've decided that yes, the old tub goes and we're getting a new one. I sent a list of 4 candidates to our contractor. Now I'm just waiting to hear what our costs will be for each (2 of them will require some modification to the tub deck) before picking one of them and moving forward.

I can't wait to see that old tub go. I think I'll celebrate by buying some new bath oils. ;-)

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 6:50PM
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Fori is not pleased

My last house had had one of those acrylic tubs (American Standard) installed when they remodeled for resale. We only put a few years of use into it (kids!) but it was a very nice tub. I can be a snob about materials at times, but it was totally acceptable and I wouldn't mind having another.

I think you'll be much happier with a new tub, even acrylic!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 10:37PM
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Thanks, fori, that's good to hear. I'm already happier with my decision and I don't even have the tub yet. ;-)

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 1:07AM
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