Is it time to replace your old cast-iron bathtub? A tub modeled after an antique or even a period-style replica can easily cost thousands of dollars. Refinishing your bathtub yourself is a more cost-effective option if you’re on a budget.
Refinishing kits can be purchased for around $30 at your local home improvement store, which makes them an easy choice for cost conscious homeowers.
But bathtub refinishing is not a simple task you can do in a few hours. It takes time.
And while an old stained bathtub can be transformed into a brand-new version of itself over the course of a weekend by DIYers with the necessary skills and time, it’s important to be prepared for what it will take before jumping into this kind of project.
Before You Start
It’s critical to read all of the instructions for this do-it-yourself project before starting. Before going out to buy additional tools and materials, you should review what is included in the bathtub refinishing kit and make sure the work area is well ventilated.
Be prepared for potential surprises
You never know when a simple bathtub refinishing project might develop into a huge bathroom remodel.
For example, it may be necessary to replace any water damaged areas that are discovered when the caulking around the edges of an old tub is removed. Be ready for anything because older homes can be full of surprises.
But keep in mind that a DIY job is unlikely to be as durable as one done by professionals, and that DIY refinishing kits do not produce the same results.
Taking the time to clean and prepare the surface and following the manufacturer’s instructions are the keys to a successful DIY tub reglazing project.
Note: To preserve the finish on a recoated tub, do not use any abrasive cleaners.
It is overly optimistic to claim that modern bathtub refinishing kits are “odorless” products that don’t require ventilation.
The best products for refinishing are two-part mixtures that combine an epoxy resin with a chemical hardener, a process that invariably results in fumes.
Even though the majority of DIY refinishing kits don’t include strong stripping agents, it’s still critical that you properly ventilate the bathroom where you’re working by opening the windows, using the exhaust fan, and putting up at least one additional fan that can blow air out the window or door.
Remember that some chemicals can sink into the tub and become trapped there rather than rising to the height of a window because they are heavier than air.
You’ll want to use breathing protection or a respirator as directed by the manufacturer, especially when sanding the old tub as part of the preparation process.
Taking stock of tub refinishing equipment
Take your refinishing kit out of the box to see what tools and supplies are inside. If the kit only contains paint, you will need to buy the other necessary project supplies separately.
These include, but are not limited to, cleaning supplies, safety equipment, and painting tools.
While a brush and roller can produce a satisfactory finish, a paint sprayer will produce a more polished appearance. The equipment and supplies required for this project are listed below.
- ⬥ Abrasive pad
- ⬥ Sponge
- ⬥ Utility knife
- ⬥ Paint roller and tray set
- ⬥ Paintbrush
- ⬥ Paint sprayer
- ⬥ Bleach
- ⬥ Cloth
- ⬥ Screwdriver
- ⬥ Putty knife
- ⬥ Gloves
- ⬥ Respirator
- ⬥ Painter’s tape
- ⬥ Drop cloth
- ⬥ Box fan
- ⬥ Bathtub refinishing kit
- ⬥ Tub repair putty
- ⬥ Safety glasses
- ⬥ #400 to #600 wet/dry sandpaper
- ⬥ Paper towels
- ⬥ Caulk gun
- ⬥ Shower caulk
Remove cover plates and escutcheons from plumbing fixtures if at all possible. Tub spouts can be unscrewed and taken out during refinishing.
Clean any dirt or caulk residue from around openings in the bathtub, using a putty knife.
Clean the Bathtub
Clean the tub thoroughly and remove all caulking from the joints around the tub. If necessary, use a chemical caulk remover to remove all traces of caulk from the surfaces.
Use bleach to clean away any mildew stains, then scrub the entire area thoroughly with an abrasive cleanser, or with LimeAway applied with an abrasive pad. Rinse thoroughly with clear water.
When soap scum and accumulated grime are eliminated, it allows the refinishing agent to do its job.
Dry the tub with a clean cloth and check for any debris, such as soap scum, grime, or leftover caulking. Remove any remaining debris from the tub, dry it off, and get ready with your personal safety gear.
Mask off areas around the tub
Use drop cloths and painter’s tape to mask off floors and walls around the tub. The epoxy coating will be hard to remove, so make sure to guard against drops and spills.
In order to prevent accidentally spraying any shelves, plumbing fixtures, or other shower components that are close to the tub, these items should be wrapped in plastic and secured with painter’s tape.
Consider taping loose plastic or masking paper to the shower walls if you are unsure of your paint-spraying abilities in order to provide more adequate protection.
Ventilate the room
As noted above, ventilation is crucial.
The etching, sanding, and coating will create dust and fumes. In addition to the epoxy fumes, the process of sanding can cause fiberglass dust that shouldn’t be inhaled.
Open windows, turn on the exhaust fan, or put up portable fans to increase ventilation before you start working.
Sand the tub
If the kit you purchased includes etching powder, sprinkle some on the bathtub’s surface and scrub the tub with an abrasive pad to dull the finish.
You might discover some chipped or pitted areas in the tub as a result of this process. Putty should be used to fill the chips and pits, then dried. Rinse the tub with water to get rid of the etching powder after the putty has dried and the surface has been etched.
After the bathtub has dried, thoroughly clean it with paper towels to remove any moisture or debris.
Wipe down the bathtub
The tub should first be thoroughly dried with paper towels before being cleaned with a tack cloth to get rid of any dust or paper remnants.
Use the primer that came with your bathroom reglazing kit. Apply it with a foam brush and roller as indicated, then allow it to dry.
Certain refinishers self-prime, thus a separate prime coat is not necessary. Use only the primer that comes with the package you purchase; do not prime bathtub surfaces with regular commercial paint primer.
When using a roller cover to apply primer or an epoxy finish, clean it to prevent lint from getting on the bathtub surfaces. Sticky tape works well to remove any loose lint from the roller cover.