The average cost for a brand new bathtub can cost hundreds, if not thousands, and that’s not even including installation. But that doesn’t mean you need to suffer through the sight of your 90’s avocado green tub every day. A new coat of paint can spruce up your tub and make it look new without breaking the bank. So how can you paint your bathtub like a professional?
To start repainting a tub, remove the caulk and hardware first, sand the surfaces, and deep clean it. Next, repair scratches, prime the surface, and apply two coats of paint. Finish with a re-caulk and then re-install the hardware. A DIY bathtub refinishing kit includes everything you need.
Bathtubs are usually quite large and tough to move around, and the surface is difficult to get a smooth finish on. But with a little bit of preparation and the right tools, you can give your tub a new lease on life. Let’s look at what you’ll need and how to go about it.
Is It Possible to Repaint a Bathtub?
Yes, almost any bathtub can be repainted; the trick lies in the preparation. Bathtub renovation requires specific tools and materials like base primers, epoxy paints, caulk scrapers, special brushes, and respirators to cover the fumes.
Of course, you can buy all of these tools and materials at hardware stores, but luckily, Amazon sells refinishing kits that include everything DIYers need to repaint their bathtub successfully.
How Much Does It Cost to Repaint a Bathtub?
Getting a professional to paint your bathtub can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. This price range varies depending on the size and type of bathtub, the amount of prep work that needs to be done, and the finish you choose.
On the other hand, doing it yourself is a much more affordable option. A good repainting kit and the remaining tools will cost you no more than $100-$200. For starters, check out this Ekopel 2K Refinishing Kit (on Amazon).
And don’t worry about the finishing; if you follow the steps closely and maintain your patience, you too can achieve a pro-like finish.
What Type of Paint/Finish Do You Need to Repaint a Bathtub?
The type of paint you need depends on the material and surface of your bathtub. Acrylic paint is the best option for plastic or fiberglass surfaces, while the epoxy is good for porcelain and enamel surfaces. You’ll need an oil-based primer and paint if you have iron tubs.
In terms of finish, matte and satin are both good options and easier to apply than a high gloss finish.
So before choosing paint for your bathtub, make sure it suits the surface type. Plus, the paint must be high-quality, water-resistant, and durable. Cheap paints will chip under moist conditions and aren’t worth your time and money.
How Do You Repaint a Bathtub?
Now that you know what you’ll need and what type of paint to use, it’s time to start the renovation process.
Remove Old Caulk and All Bath Fixtures
Use a caulk scraper to peel off the old caulk. If you don’t have a scraper, a sharp knife or blade can also do the job. This will be a messy process, so make sure you have a garbage bag and plenty of newspaper handy. It’s also tedious and might take around thirty to forty minutes.
Next, remove all the hardware attached to the bathtub. This could be the drain, taps, etc. If any of these is rusted or difficult to remove, use a wrench or screwdriver to loosen them up first.
Sand Down the Surface
Use medium grit (400-600) sandpaper like this one from POLIWELL (on Amazon) to sand down the tub’s surface. If you have an electric sander, it will make the process quicker, but hand sanding is also an option.
Sanding will remove the old glossy surface, rust, and other blemishes on the tub. And it will also help the paint adhere better to the surface. Use a damp cloth to wipe off the dust and residue after sanding.
Clean Your Tub
Now that the surface is prepped, it’s time to clean your tub as you’ve never cleaned it before. Open the windows or doors to create ventilation. First, use a 10 percent bleach in water solution to rinse off the tub.
This solution will kill any bacteria or mold and act as a degreaser. Then use any abrasive tub cleaner to remove leftover grease or stains. Give the tub a good rinse with clean water to remove all residue. Then wipe it clean with a dry towel.
Repair Scratches or Chips (Optional)
If your tub has scratches or chips, you can repair them before painting. This can be done with a touch-up kit, such as the Porc-A-Fix Touch-up Kit (on Amazon) or a tube of epoxy paint. Match the color of the paint to the surrounding area and use a brush to fill in the scratches. Let it dry for 24 hours before sanding it down smooth. Do two passes with 400 and 600 grit paper.
Rinse the tub again, wipe it dry, and then let it dry completely before painting.
Apply the Primer
It’s time to seal up those pores and make the surface ready for paint. Use a high-quality primer that’s made for bathtubs and suits the paint you’re going to apply. We are going to use epoxy primer in this tutorial. So acetone-based primer will do the job nicely. A simple wipe of acetone with a clean cloth will do.
It’s also a good time to mask off areas around the tub and surrounding tiles with tape. You’ll have a neater finish and less clean-up to do afterward.
Paint Your Tub
Bathtub paint kits come with two parts of epoxy that need to be mixed before use. Epoxy paints are super stinky and can give you a headache, so be sure to work in a well-ventilated area. Use a mask or respirator if you’re especially sensitive to the smell.
Mix the two parts in a bucket and stir well for at least two minutes, then pour half of it in a different bucket for the second coat and seal it to keep it from drying out.
The paint can be applied with a brush or a roller, but the best finish is achieved with a spray gun. If you don’t have access to one, start with a brush and then go over it with a roller.
Start from the top corner and paint in short, smooth strokes. Epoxy paints are self-leveling, so any bubbles or dips will disappear in a few minutes; still, make sure you do a thin, even coat.
Let the first coat dry for a few hours before applying the second coat. You can go for a third coat after 24 hours, but two coats are usually more than enough.
There is no hard and fast rule for how long epoxy paint takes to dry. It could be a few hours or a few days. Once the epoxy is cured, re-caulk the tub with a silicon-based caulk and remove the protective tape.
Give the new caulk another day to dry before using the tub. Install the hardware and fixtures, and there you have it! Your tub might as well be brand-new.
The care for your newly painted tub is the same care required for any porcelain or fiberglass tub. Be sure not to use abrasive cleaners, steel wool, or scouring pads on the painted surface.
Instead, a mild detergent and a sponge should be all you need to keep it looking new.
How Long Should You Wait Before Using a Repainted Bathtub?
This depends on the type of paint you’re using and also the climate. Instructions on the paint kit will tell you how long to wait before using the tub. But in general, it’s a good idea not to use the tub for at least three days after painting.
Also, keep in mind that if you’re using high-end epoxy paint, it takes much longer to cure than other types of paints.