Bathtubs get old. Just like the walls, cabinets, furniture and other things around your house, bathtubs can get scratches, dings and discoloration over time. But unlike other items around your home, most people don’t realize that they can refinish their tubs, they think they have to live with the old tub or replace it.
With a little time, patience and very little money, you can have your bathtub looking nearly as good as the day it was installed (you can even change those old pink tubs to white!).
- Step 1: Gather Materials & Prepare Workspace
- Step 2: Prep and Clean Your Bathtub
- Step 3: Repair Surface Damage
- Step 4: Sand The Bathtub
- Step 5: Painting Your Bathtub
- Step 6: 2nd Coat The Tub
- Step 7: Re-Caulk and Cleanup
- 4″ Mini Roller & Short Nap Cover
- Foam Paint Brush
- Small Paint Tray
- 4′ x 5′ Canvas Drop Cloth
- Utility Knife
- Disposable Gloves
- Painters Tape
- NOISH Approved Respirator
- Caulk Gun
- Caulking Tool
- Scotch-Brite Scrub Pads
- Rustoleum Tub & Tile Refinishing Kit
- Abrasive Cleaner
- Lime Away
- 400 Grit Wet/Dry Sandpaper
- 600 Grit Wet/Dry Sandpaper
- Tack Cloths
- JB Weld Steel Epoxy
Step 1: Gather Tools, Materials and Prep Workspace
Before I get started working on any painting project the first thing I always do is prepare my workspace and materials. This involves going through my list of tools and materials needed and making sure that I have everything for my project. Next, I lay out a small 4′ x 5′ canvas drop cloth with all of my materials neatly arranged so that I know where everything is. This is also the time to remove any items from the rooms that you can to give yourself as much working space as possible.
Step 2: Prep & Clean Your Bathtub
The first thing you need to do to your tub is to remove all metal pieces. Get the metal drain, drain ring and any other metal pieces out of the bathtub.
Now you’ll want to clean the tub as thoroughly as possible. If you have any lime, now is when you will want to scrub the tub with Limeaway. Next, clean the tub with bleach to remove any mildew stains from the tub. Make sure to use your disposable gloves to keep your hands from being affected by the bleach. The final step in cleaning is to scrub the bathtub with an abrasive cleaner like Comet. I prefer to use a green Scotch-Brite heavy duty scrubbing pad to really scrub the tub.
Next, use your caulk removal tool or utility knife and remove the caulk around the tub. Make sure to get the caulk 100% off from around the tub.
Finally, wipe your bathtub down with a clean rag and make sure no cleaning residue is left behind.
Step 3: Repair Any Surface Damage
Now that the tub is clean and area prepared for work, it is time to repair any surface damage to the tub. I personally love JB Weld Steel Epoxy. This is a two part epoxy that is dry in 4 hours and fully cured in 24. It is water resistant, sandable, paintable and is the perfect compound to repair any damaged ares in your tub.
Mix up the JB Weld two part epoxy and fill any cracks, gouges or chips in your tub. Try to get these as smooth as you can to eliminate as much sanding work later on as possible. After filling, you should give the patches a full 24 hours to cure before moving onto the next step.
Step 4: Sand The Tub
Take the 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper you have in your materials and thoroughly sand the bathtub. Make sure to completely remove any gloss from the tub and not to skip any areas. I go over all areas until they have a completely dull / flat look to them. You’ll also want to give extra attention to the repairs you made in step 3. If any of your repairs need extra patching compound, go ahead and give them another coat of epoxy, the extra time you take to do things right now will pay off later with a great looking finish.
HEALTH NOTE: Any time you sand you could be releasing lead dust into the air. It is always a good idea to test any surfaces you plan on sanding for lead before sanding. If lead is present, make sure to seal off the work area, wear a NIOSH approved respirator and thoroughly clean the area when completed. Wet sanding is always the way to go when there is lead present. For more info on lead goto www.epa.gov/lead
Step 5: Painting Your Bathtub
Your bathtub is finally ready for paint! Before you begin, make sure to properly ventilate the area by opening any windows and turning on bathroom fans.
Take one of your tack cloths and wipe down the tub to make sure it is 100% free of any sanding dust from step 4.
Before we get out the paint though, make sure to tape off any metal that you were unable to remove and tape off the floor and walls surrounding the tub with 3M Painters Tape.
Once the tub is clean and any remaining areas are prepped, you can take your Rustoleum Tub & Tile Kit and mix part A with part B in your small painting tray. Stir the two parts together for two minutes before beginning painting.
Start the painting with your 4″ mini roller and pad. Use light even strokes with the roller and don’t try to roll over painted areas too much as the paint will start drying and not lay as smooth the more you roll over it.
After you have rolled everything you can, pull out your small foam brush and paint the edges and any areas that you were unable to roll.
After you have the tub first coated with Rustoleum, give it at least 1 hour to dry before moving onto the second coat.
Step 6: 2nd Coat The Tub
If your bathtub has had at least 1 hour to dry you can now paint your second coat. Repeat the painting process from step 5. An hour after your second coat has dried you can carefully remove any tape you used around the tub.
Allow the tub at least 1 day to dry before re-caulking and 3 days of drying before exposing to water.
Step 7: Re-Caulk & Cleanup
Once your tub has dried for at least 24 hours you can go ahead and re-caulk the tub to the bath surround or tile. To get a nice caulk line you can either use tape or if you are good with a caulk gun you can clean up your caulk line with a rag to smooth it out.
To caulk with tape, run a piece of tape just above your caulk area and one just below. Run your caulk bead between the two pieces of tape and wipe smooth with a wet towel. After the caulk bead is smoothed, remove the tape to reveal a perfect bead of caulk around your tub.
Now it’s time to cleanup and enjoy your beautifully re-finished bathtub! Remember, wait at least 3 days before exposing the tub to water!
Hopefully painting your bathtub yourself was an enjoyable experience and resulted in a great looking tub! If you did this project, let us know and share your photos!