Re-enameling bathtub: what are my options?
October 12, 2020 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Our landlord says he can have our peeling tub/shower re-enameled, but that we would have to vacate the apartment for 48 hours. Are there any other options?

What it says on the tin. He says this is because of the fumes used, but because of COVID/life circumstances finding another place to stay would be tricky. Is there any other way to do this that wouldn’t require is to stay somewhere else for two days? If you’ve done this before, did you have to vacate? Whether or not he will go for it, I’d love to present him with alternative methods.

PS- he also said we wouldn’t be able to use the shower/tub for two days, which is fine, I can accept that. I just want to be able to sleep in my apartment.
posted by cakelite to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've had two bathtubs professionally refinished and in neither case was the entire unit unoccupyable for any significant period of time. Maybe a couple of hours; I'm not sure if even that was the case. Certainly the tub itself was unusable for longer, and the bathroom might not have been a good idea to go in, so if the apartment only has one bathroom that might be the issue (i.e., if the apartment has no bathroom that's safe to use, it is considered uninhabitable).
posted by likedoomsday at 1:22 PM on October 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yes....I think I misread his email and panicked. It says we cannot use the shower for 48 hours and must vacate the apartment “while the work is being done.” Is this more in line with people’s experiences? How long does it take?
posted by cakelite at 1:26 PM on October 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Yeah I would make sure that it will be safe to use the bathroom (assuming your toilet is in the same room as your bath). The fumes from bathtub refinishing are dangerous during and immediately after the refinishing, and often unpleasant (and possibly still dangerous to people who are sensitive to them) during the 48-hour curing process.
posted by mskyle at 1:31 PM on October 12, 2020

If you have a Miracle Method franchise near you I would recommend calling them. They do this. They quoted a project for a house I'm selling this week and there was no discussion of not being able to use the bathroom for two days!
posted by zdravo at 1:35 PM on October 12, 2020

We did this fairly recently (summer 2019), and while we were able to go back into the apartment on the same day, the fumes are indeed a LOT. As in we slept with the windows and screen door open and every fan in the house going and everything smelled like nail polish remover. So if you do stay in, make sure you have plans for ventilation and maybe invest in a purifier/extra box fans.

I ended up being glad that I'd booked our cats two full days in boarding because while I'm willing to subject myself to that (doubly so now, given COVID), I wouldn't do it to anything smaller or with less lung capacity than me. Heads up if you have animals, children or breathing challenged folks in the house.
posted by theweasel at 2:10 PM on October 12, 2020 [6 favorites]

Yeah, the corrected reading sounds reasonable to me. I think the process itself probably takes 2–4 hours (depending on things like whether there's a glass door, in which case the extra masking takes time; whether you're having them caulk too; and whether you're doing extra stuff like a non-slip surface), but it would be better to get that information directly from the installer, since it might vary depending on the techniques and materials they use.
posted by likedoomsday at 2:10 PM on October 12, 2020

Our bathrooms were enameled before we moved in to our apartment. I'm not sure how many days had passed (it could have even been just the day before) but the smell was extremely strong and unpleasant. It was early September so we were able to have windows open and strong fans going, so it was bearable. But again, I'm not sure when it was done. If it was two days or more prior, I imagine the fumes on the first day would have been overwhelming.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:53 PM on October 12, 2020

For the workman's safety, you should vacate the apartment at least 4 hours before he arrives (so the air is not filled with droplets), and be sure to leave all the windows open. I would be looking for all-day activities for something to do.
posted by sexyrobot at 2:57 PM on October 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

A reason you may be asked to vacate for a while is that one chemical used in some bathtub refinishing materials is a paint stripper called methylene chloride, which has killed people who have used it without proper ventilation.

You could ask your landlord to use a product that does not contain this chemical, which uses safer alternatives. Another option to ask about is a plastic enclosure that goes over the bathtub, instead of re-enameling.

Otherwise, to be safe, you would want to find another place to stay for a couple days, and ensure that your home is well-ventilated before you return.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:30 PM on October 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

I’ve had this done twice. Both times the fumes were intense, and even with a fan and window in the bathroom I could smell it everywhere and worried a bit about my cats, but I also didn’t find it as unbearable as many do. I think the first time I did it was not at all bad, but that might have been a clue because they did a terrible job and did nothing to cover the gouges and scratches and it began to fail around the drain and other points fairly quickly. The second time I hired Miracle Method and I do recall it being much more intense, but I came home after a full day and it was survivable but unpleasant. (And hasn’t failed except where I e dropped heavy things and chipped it. ) It was the only time I let my cat stay outside at night willingly. I’d suggest if it’s cold where you are this time of year, and you can swing it, a hotel might be a better option.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 6:25 PM on October 13, 2020

I've inquired about this process and contractors have told me tenants need to leave the house for a day or two because the fumes are toxic.
posted by xammerboy at 7:38 PM on October 13, 2020

Kind of a weird solution, but... do you like camping? You could buy a tent for less than a hotel room, and stuff it with all your blankets and pillows (which will also keep them fume-free) and OMG I think I just figured out how to get out of my own apartment for a while. Thanks!
posted by sexyrobot at 11:02 PM on October 13, 2020

If you look around you may be able to find a hotel you feel comfortable staying at. Maybe something with a door that's accessible from outside? Or a hotel that guarantees the room has been cleaned and then left untouched for a few days? There's likely good advice to be found online.

Is your landlord helping you pay for a hotel? Have you explained you have nowhere else to go and asked them what they think is fair in that regard?
posted by xammerboy at 6:59 AM on October 14, 2020

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