How to Refinish and Paint a Bathtub


Refinishing a bathtub can save a lot of money because it delays or replaces the need to purchase a new bathroom suite. Chemical stripping and refinishing procedures should only be attempted by competent adults using safety equipment.

Things You'll Need

  • Bathroom cleaner
  • Brush
  • Sheeting
  • Tape
  • Knife
  • Blade
  • Caulk remover
  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • Goggles
  • Disposable brush
  • Etching solution
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Plastic bags
  • Elastic bands
  • Fiberglass filler
  • Sandpaper
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Refinishing kit
  • Sprayer

Preparing the Bath Surface for Painting

  • Begin by cleaning the bath thoroughly with a commercial abrasive cleaner and a plastic scrub brush. Remove all surface grime, rust stains, lime scale and soap scum before proceeding; this will allow any treatments to permanently and correctly adhere to the surface of the bath. Ensure the bath is clean and dry before proceeding.

  • Prepare the area by laying plastic sheeting or old shower curtains on the floor and fixtures surrounding the bathtub. Tape the sheeting in place so that it doesn't move during the refinishing process. This will prevent accidental spills damaging the area.

  • Remove all sealing caulk from around the tub using a scraping tool such as a sharp blade. To make the removal process easier, consider purchasing caulk remover that softens dry, hard sealer, and decrease your necessary physical effort. Use a single razor blade to carefully scrape away residual caulk.

  • Open the window, turn on the exhaust fan and put on gloves, a ventilation mask and goggles. The chemicals used to refinish a tub are highly toxic and should not be inhaled or touched with bare skin. Respirator masks are available at do-it-yourself stores.

  • Use a small disposal scrubbing brush to apply acid-etching solution to the clean dry surface of the bathtub. Carefully scrub the entire surface of the tub to remove the top surface coating. Allow to set for approximately 20 minutes.

  • Shake baking soda over the entire surface of the tub to neutralize the acid. Let set for a few minutes, and then rinse with cold water. Keep pouring water over the entire tub to make sure all of the etching solution is washed away.

  • Dry the bathtub completely before proceeding and ensure no water touches the surface of the tub. Protect against any chance of water entering the tub at this point by covering the shower head and bath taps with a plastic bag held in place with elastic bands.

  • Repair cracks, chips and nicks with fiberglass filler made for bathtubs before refinishing. Kits are available at home stores; stricly follow the directions on the label. Use sandpaper to smooth down repairs and remove sanding dust with a vacuum cleaner. The bath should still be completely dry before proceeding.

Refinishing and Painting

  • Purchase a bathtub refinishing kit in your chosen color that includes a cleaning solvent, a primer and a top coat; read the directions very carefully. They should instruct the use of a full mask respirator and professional grade low-pressure sprayer for working with the chemicals.

  • Clean the bathtub using the solvent in the kit and completely dry the tub following the instructions on the packet. Wait for the tub to be completely dry before proceeding.

  • Prepare the primer in accordance with the packet directions and place in the sprayer. Spray evenly across the tub creating a single smooth coating. Allow to dry. The drying time should be written on the packet.

  • Finish the painting process by mixing the top coat and spraying over the primer. Allow to completely dry before removing the plastic sheeting from around the bathroom and enjoying the tub.

Tips & Warnings

  • The chemicals in refinishing kits are dangerous. Follow all directions carefully.

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