Reglazing, or refinishing, your bathtub is a cost-effective way to repair scratches, stains, chips and rust. A properly reglazed bathtub can look and feel like new, and it costs less than buying a new tub. With proper care, a professionally reglazed bathtub can last between five and 10 years. Do-it-yourself kits are available but don’t expect the results to last as long.
Do-it-yourself reglazing kits don’t contain the industrial-strength bonding agents or delaminating solutions that professional refinishers use. Instead, they contain acetone or alcohol, which don’t work as well. Professional refinishers use silanes, which are silicon and hydrogen compounds used to improve adhesion and water resistance. According to refinisher Mike D. Maddocks, most DIY reglazing jobs fail within the first year when the paint starts peeling off.
Professional reglazing materials consist of chemically hardened acrylic, urethane or polyurethane materials, while DIY kits often contain paints or epoxies. DIY paints aren’t very durable and can start peeling in as little as one week. Industrial refinishing materials include strong acids, solvents and materials that are so toxic they require the refinisher to wear a respirator and protective clothing.
The floor and walls around the bathtub should be thoroughly cleaned so dirt doesn’t ruin the finish on your newly reglazed tub. In addition, all of the caulking needs to be removed around your bathtub, and painter plastic or newspaper should be taped up on the walls to protect them from overspray. The bathtub itself should be cleaned, both to remove dirt and to ensure that the bonding agent bonds better. After rinsing, the tub should be completely dried.
Reglazing a bathtub involves stripping off the old glaze and sanding the bathtub, then cleaning it before applying a primer and several coats of finish. The tub is sanded again in between each coat. Make sure your bathroom is vented during the process to remove toxic fumes. If your old bathtub has holes or cracks in it, the refinisher will repair them as well. It takes a professional refinisher between four and six hours to reglaze a bathtub.
Don’t use bleach, abrasive cleaners or steel wool on your newly reglazed bathtub because it will ruin the coating. Use gentle, non-abrasive kitchen cleaners instead. Avoid bathtub mats with suction cups because they will tear the coating. Waxing your bathtub every six months with a urethane polish will extend its life but be careful using a waxed bathtub because it will be very slippery.