Uncle Bobs Tips

Bathtub Refinishing

Bathtub Refinishing

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Save yourself a large bundle on a new bathtub with a DIY bathtub refinishing kit. While a new tub won't cost you too much on its own, removal, installation and retiling will run you big bucks at the end of the day. Instead, save your greenbacks with this inexpensive alternative. Refinishing bathtubs can be done to cover unsightly stains and discolored spots or just give a fresh look to a worn out tub.

While many kits provide you with a small paint roller, rollers are not recommended for this project. This is because often, rolling paint leaves a cheap, painted on look to your tub that's not satisfactory. To get the best results from your bathtub refinishing project, use a heavy-duty paint sprayer (arv: $100).

Safety notice: Bathtub reglazing uses chemicals that are hazardous if inhaled for long periods of time. When refinishing bathtubs, be sure the area is well ventilated and a respirator is used during application. Add additional air circulation if necessary. Vapor masks, gloves and eye gear are available for projects such as bathtub refinishing, and should be used for your safety and health.

Here's how it's done:

1. It's a good idea to cover and tape up any surfaces that are not being refinished with plastic sheets or painters' plastic, especially if using spray on.

2. First step is to remove any old caulk/silicone from around the tub, and clean the surface thoroughly of all grease, dirt, soap scum, flakes of paint etc. Clean really well because any slight residue will reduce the longevity of your results. Sand down the area to provide a good surface for the coating to adhere to (120/320 grit waterproof sand paper does the trick). Vacuum sand dust, rinse thoroughly, and allow tub to dry completely. Remember, the surface must be rust-free, clean and dry prior to starting. Repair any cracks or chipped areas and clean surrounding area thoroughly before starting your bathtub refinishing project.

3. Some companies sell a primer reducer that works as both a cleaning agent and an aggravated surface for the paint material to stick to. Apply this solvent, and wait until it dries.

4. Before you even begin the next stage of this project, make sure you have the time to finish it. Once the coating and hardener is mixed, the bathtub refinish mixture must be used within six hours. Otherwise, it will solidify and be useless to you or your bathtub.

5. After taking the appropriate safety precautions (safety gear donned, proper ventilation, additional exhaust options if necessary), mix the primer according to the directions found in your kit.

6. If you're using a roller, using smooth even strokes, apply the primer of your bathtub refinishing material. With a sprayer, be sure you're spraying evenly across the surface. Either way, work your way from the bottom up for best results. Allow to dry (about an hour, hour and a half).

7. Apply the topcoat with the same method as above. (Some companies supply enough paint for a double coat. Use this only if necessary.) Again, allow to dry approximately 24-48 hours.

Things to look out for:

Coating should obviously be water-proof and be sure that it won't crack under hot water.

Caustic materials are a big no no.

Make sure the refinishing material you buy can be used on the type of surface your tub is made of.

A good professional job will last you 10-15 years, while a DIY job will probably start to wear significantly before this. Make sure you are getting the highest quality acrylic polymer coating materials to extend the life expectancy of this refinishing job, and be prepared to redo this home improvement project within a few years (not that this is bad, just a reminder). Alternatively, the market is competitive, and you can always let someone else do the work for you for $300-$500 for a standard tub (larger models or specialized materials will cost you more).


The way to get a job well done in this project is to prepare the surface really well prior to application. This is because 1. Any rust, chips or particles will show through the new coating and help to wear away the finish faster and 2. The coating needs a good surface consistency to adhere to.

Detach the drains and outlets and cover with masking tape to protect the pipes and area. Then you can either reinstall or replace these with new ones and a fresh layer of plumbers' putty.

It is helpful to place plastic bags around any faucets or overhead shower nozzles prior to beginning the project. This will prevent residual water droplets from dripping down unexpectedly.

Use a small paintbrush to get the hard to reach spots and areas that will not accept the roller head. Be sure your strokes are smooth and even so as not to be left with a cheap painted on impression. (One of the benefits of spray on is you don't have to worry about this.)

Silicone caulk is more mildew resistant than its counterparts.

Clean paint smudges on walls or other surfaces with lacquer or epoxy thinners.

While the tub itself can be used 48 hours after bathtub reglazing, it is advisable not to introduce suction cups and slip-safe bathmats back into the tub for several days (10 days).

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