One-piece bathtub units - replace or live with them?

adrienneprattAugust 9, 2014

Hello, about to move into a home that has 3 full baths with cheap, white, acrylic, one-piece bathtub units in each one. The house was built ten years ago, and the tubs are not in bad shape, probably will look okay/clean enough with a good scrub down. But personally, I have difficulty even looking at these units (which every house in this area seems to have), I think they are so awful. Practical, but awful.

Apart from the master bath, my contractor advises me just to live with the other 2 from a financial standpoint. His opinion is that other people don't think they are nearly as awful as I do (in his words, Americans, because I'm Irish), and that once we replace the vinyl flooring and laminate countertops with good quality, natural materials (which we are definitely going to do), the units will look a lot better because of their surroundings.

I'd like to hear your opinions. 1) Can anything be done to improve the look of these units without replacing them? (I don't know, tile trims, that kind of thing...); 2) If I go to the vast expense of replacing at least 1 of the other 2 in addition to the master, is it financially worthwhile from a house price/rental value standpoint? I plan to live in the house for a few years before renting it out, probably. Do you think future renters or purchasers will appreciate a quality bathroom enough to make the cost worthwhile?

Thanks a lot!

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It's pretty common here in all but the most custom builds to have a tile bath for the master and the one piece units in the kids' or hall bath.

I don't think renters would care much, they would probably rather have something easy to take care of.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 9:00AM
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No, I don't think think future renters or purchasers will be swayed one way or the other by acrylic bath/shower units. They would be swayed by moldy grout or any sign that there is water damage. They are more likely to have an opinion on your tile choice than plain-Jane acrylic that is clean and presentable. Like you, they'll move in and if they care, they'll replace those units themselves (buyers) or live with it (renters). Were I you, I would put good looking shower curtains on the units, be sure the shower head and faucets look decent, and call it a day.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 12:12PM
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I personally think the opposite of what your contractor thinks - once you replace the counters and floor with natural materials, the one-piece units will look even worse. Will it affect resale? I think so. Will it affect rental value - that depends on the location.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 12:13PM
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My home is 15 years old, and most of the couples/families on my street are first-time home buyers, young professionals, in high-paying high-tech jobs. They stay about five years and move to custom homes as their families grow. When they move out, I look at their listing. Seldom do I see any upgrades of even the most basic materials--lighting, towel bars, etc., much less a kitchen or bath remodel.

So I would leave it as is and go ahead with the upgrade to the vanity and flooring. It will be nicer than anything else in your neighborhood until everyone else catches up, which could take awhile. On my street they are just getting around to painting the oak cabinets white and replacing the square white tile countertops with granite or solid surface.

We're a retired couple and seem to care more about making a house a home than our neighbors, so we have remodeled the kitchen and a guest bath. We kept the bath/shower unit but put in a cherry vanity, granite counter, new sink, faucet, light, and floor. We have a pretty shower curtain over the bath/shower, so it doesn't affect the rest of the room.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 1:10PM
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1) Can anything be done to improve the look of these units without replacing them?

A good set of shower curtains.

If they are CLEAN they are not a detriment to rental value.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 12:17PM
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A final thanks to you all for your opinions, very helpful! General consensus is that I should leave them, so I will (as long as I can handle them myself, and I generally find that after a couple of weeks I don't notice most things - just the first couple of weeks are HARD!).

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 2:27PM
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I've specified a one-piece acrylic or fiberglass tub with integral walls, and find at least some of them attractive as well as obviously practical (no caulk or grout lines anywhere). You don't get the elegance of some kinds of tile, but having everything like shelves, pulls, and soap dishes built in can be elegant in its own way. I wouldn't necessarily rip them out, unless they weren't big or comfortable enough.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:29PM
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Leave them. They are not that bad and are easy to keep clean, renters don't care. Resale, I doubt they would affect the value much compared to the cost of replacing. I agree with the contractor (unless you have money to burn of course lol).

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:34PM
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Great, thanks for the advice.

I have another, related question, not sure if I should make it a new thread, but you've all been so great I'll post it here.

The master bathroom is currently fairly small, with a one-piece tub (my bathroom so it has to come out!) next to a pretty large walk-in closet.

Contractor recommends installing separate shower and tub by reducing size of closet. Says that is important when it comes to rental or resale.

For me, I just need a shower and I like my big closet! But I could go with his advice if it really made financial sense.

So, what is your opinion of the contractor's recommendation?

Much appreciated!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:40PM
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Is there another tub in the house? I don't think anyone wastes space on more than one tub anymore. Around here, just a shower in the master bath is common as long as there is a tub somewhere.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 3:05PM
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Hey SJ, thanks. House has THREE full baths for some reason (totally unnecessary in a 2000 sq ft house, methinks), but they are all those white one-piece ones. No nice, classy, e.g. corner tubs of the kind you really enjoy sinking into with a glass of wine and lots of bubbles....

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 3:30PM
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I'd want both a tub (a deep one) and a shower in the master bathroom. I don';t wan't to have to don a bathrobe and chillily walk to another room to shower off a bit after bathing, that assuming the other room is available. If you never use a tub and will stay in the house for years to come, go ahead just put in a shower, but I'd include space to add one if a upcoming buyer wants it. Not having one would be a dealbreaker for me, but a substantial portion of the populace never takes baths so you'd still have plenty of buyers if your room was shower-only. Just not as many.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:16PM
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Don't think this has been mentioned. I'm not fond of my one piece tub/shower, but it's completely hidden by a great looking shower curtain.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:25PM
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I would not reduce the size of the closet to accommodate a shower when there are two other showers in the house. Closet space is prime real estate in my part of the world!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 8:38PM
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I prefer the one piece shower/tubs. I didn't know I did until I moved in to my current house and realized how much I actually hate tile (the grout, cleaning it, and how tile seems to go out of style faster than any other surface). And resale considered, it is VERY taste specific. As far as making the closet smaller, it would have to be a VERY large closet (think bedroom sized that would fit a king mattress) to begin with for that to even begin to make sense to me. A fancy bath is nice, but a bigger closet is always better.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 8:42PM
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I like them also, but then I like low maintenance and they are. The new things builders put in are a cleaning nightmare and in a few years a new fad will come and they will be obsolete.

I would like to remodel my master bath to do away with the two sinks. I prefer one sink in the middle with a row of 6 lights over head. I would put in two banks of drawers for my underwear, socks, etc.. Then you don't need a dresser, you have room for a large screen TV in the bedroom.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 10:37PM
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We were longtime renters. I have no idea what makes people think renters don't care. The reality is, renters have learned to just accept what they get in the unit, in almost all cases, because they have no choice in the matter. We always left the houses with upgrades. The better the deal we got in the rent, the more they got back at no additional cost--garage door openers, replacement of dead appliances, landscaping and irrigation systems, upgraded lighting and switches, etc.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 2:00AM
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Most landlords know you care but these are temporary homes. We don't expect you to rent the place if you don't like it. It is your decision, you can't expect to come in and renovate it like it was "your" home. If we did make it like our home you would like and appreciate it but the next person may trash it. We just did the basics and left it move in clean. That was the top compliment of our renters, even in the low income area. We did not buy in the low income, my husband rented in a temporary housing development put in by the government for A/C workers during the war. When it was no longer need they could not tear it down because it would displace to many people. When the government sold it he bought the one he lived in. He never got rid of anything even homes he had lived in.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 10:16AM
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The master bathroom is currently fairly small, with a one-piece tub (my bathroom so it has to come out!) next to a pretty large walk-in closet.

Can you post a floor plan?

I'd keep the closet, convert the tub to a low-curb shower, and use one of the other bathrooms if I wanted to soak sore muscles.

A separate shower at the expense of closet space sounds like a bad tradeoff.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 10:26AM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Go for the shower only and the keep the closet. I agree with the others here who say no problem as long as there is a bathtub available in another bathroom.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 2:13PM
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Great stuff, all advice much appreciated. Contrary to my instincts (but heartily supported by my bank account), I will ignore two of the one-piece bath surround thingies, and replace the third one (in my bedroom!) with a nice swanky shower area and leave my lovely big closet!

Grateful to you gardenwebbers!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 1:07PM
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