How to Restore the Finish to a Tub

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An old porcelain tub that's become dingy, dull and scratched doesn't necessarily have to be replaced. If it's real porcelain (enamel baked over an iron frame), it can be refinished using a special stripping chemical, a special primer, and an enamel paint that contains polyurethane to give it that familiar glassy shine. Refinishing a tub is a difficult task that involves specialized and dangerous chemicals, and shouldn't be undertaken unless you've had significant refinishing experience. Talk to someone from your home improvement store about getting the right materials and equipment.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic tarps
  • Masking tape
  • Respirator
  • Goggles
  • Thick rubber gloves
  • Protective clothing
  • Porcelain etching solution (hydrofluoric acid)
  • Brush
  • Baking soda
  • Airless paint sprayer
  • Porcelain primer
  • Enamel paint formulated for porcelain
  • Remove all fixtures from the tub. Tape plastic tarps over all non-porcelain areas. Tape them over the surrounding floors and walls as well.

  • Put on your respirator and other protective gear. Paint the entire porcelain surface with etching solution, using a paintbrush. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Sprinkle baking soda over it to stop the reaction. Rinse and dry the porcelain thoroughly.

  • Load your sprayer with porcelain primer. Still wearing your protective gear, spray a very light coat of primer over the whole surface. Let it dry for 30 minutes. Spray a second coat, then a third, until the tub is completely sealed with primer. Let the final coat cure for eight hours.

  • Reload your sprayer with enamel paint for porcelain. Put on your safety equipment. Apply four to six very light, thin coats of paint, letting it dry for an hour between each coat. Avoid drips, and keep the sprayer moving at all times.

  • Let the final coat cure for 48 to 72 hours before using the tub.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ventilate the room while applying your chemicals and paints.

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References

  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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