How to Restore a Fiberglass Bathtub

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It's possible to refurbish a fiberglass tub and make it presentable again.
It's possible to refurbish a fiberglass tub and make it presentable again. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Fiberglass bathtubs have a surface that is coated in a protective gel that also acts as the surface paint. Over time, chips can form in this surface, causing a path for water to get beneath the surface and cause the surface to deteriorate even more. Clean the tub thoroughly before attempting to restore the gel-coat surface to prevent dirt from permanently being trapped beneath the surface. While some gel-coat surfaces can be brushed on, it's best to spray on the gel-coat to create the smoothest surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Sander
  • Cloth
  • Gel-coat kit
  • Gel-coat spray gun

Sand down the surface of the tub. This will remove the top coat of finish on the bathtub.

Wipe down the tub with a wet cloth to remove all remnants of finish and dust after sanding. Wait for the surface to dry.

Mix together components of the gel-coat liquid, which is usually sold in a kit that contains a small amount of a catalyst called MEKP. Add the liquid to a spray gun made specifically for gel-coat. The special gun prevents the gel-coat from drying inside it, unlike a regular paint sprayer.

Spray a layer of gel-coat onto the surface. Drying time depends on the brand, but could take several days. Immediately after spraying, wipe off all gel-coat remnants from the gun before they dry permanently.

Sand the surface again if there are any uneven areas after the drying is complete. If you do need to sand again, spray on one more coat of gel-coat finish and let it dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Spray the bathtub before restoring it with straight vinegar, using a spray bottle. Let the vinegar sit for five minutes and then scrub the tub with a sponge. This restores the tub by removing hard water buildup and soap scum.

References

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