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Can You Paint a Bathtub (Yes! With the Right Tools)

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Is your old bathtub chipped and yellowed? It might be time to consider painting it.

Is your bathtub chipped and cracked, but you can’t afford a replacement? Then it’s time to learn how to paint a bathtub the DIY way.

A fresh repair and paint job can make your old bathtub look new. This is great for budget renos, rental properties, and more.

Painting a bathtub as a DIY project can cost between $75 and $200. Hiring a professional can cost you up to $750, which is close to the cost of a new tub. So, allow me to show you how to do it by yourself.

How to Paint a Bathtub

  1. Purchase a bathtub repair and paint kit.
  2. Clean the tub and surrounding area. Let it dry.
  3. Tape off the walls.
  4. Fill holes and scratches with putty. Let it dry.
  5. Sand the surface.
  6. Mix bathtub epoxy paint.
  7. Apply a thin coat and let it dry.
  8. Apply a second coat and let it cure for at least three days.


Can You Paint a Bathtub?

Yes, painting a bathtub is possible, and it’s quite an easy process at that. The most demanding part of painting a bathtub is cleaning it and removing its hardware.

The cleaning process has to be very thorough to ensure the paint properly adheres to the surface.

The paint in bathtub refinishing kits is applied with brushes and foam rollers. Don’t use anything other than what the instructions recommend. Other applicators can produce poor results.

Rust-Oleum has an epoxy kit for DIY jobs just like this. I highly recommend you go with it because it’s a trusted brand that’s proven to work for baths and showers.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on a Bathtub?

Ensure your bathtub renovation is as professional as possible by taking the proper measures to obtain an even, opaque paint covering. But maybe even more crucial is understanding what type of paint can be used on bathtubs.

Consider the Materials

When choosing your bathtub refinishing product, you need to consider what your tub is made from. This will impact what prep work needs to be done and the application techniques that need to be used.

Think Waterproof

The paint for your bathtub should be chosen carefully because it is a very specific product. The paint must be waterproof, resistant to harsh cleaning chemicals, and designed specifically for the material your bathtub is made of. You can opt for white paint, but you can also repaint your tub in other colors.

Analyze the Paint Options

When painting a bathtub, bathtub refinishing kits are an extremely popular option. Many of these kits include everything you need to complete your project with a professional finish.

The kits typically have an epoxy acrylic paint mixture intended to mimic the appearance of a porcelain coating. What’s great about them is that they can be applied to a variety of bathtub construction materials.

If you can’t find an epoxy acrylic paint kit, you can purchase it separately. If you opt to go with this method, note that you’ll also need a bonding agent to serve as a primer.

How to Prepare a Bathtub for Painting

young woman cleaning bathtub

The biggest part of knowing how to paint a bathtub is preparing and cleaning the tub. The painting process is almost identical for fiberglass, acrylic, or porcelain enamel steel tubs.

What You’ll Need

  • Caulk removal tool/spackling knife.
  • Screwdriver.
  • Bleach.
  • Water.
  • Empty bucket.
  • Abrasive bathtub cleaner.
  • Acetone.
  • Epoxy putty.
  • 400-grit sandpaper.
  • 600-grit sandpaper.
  • Sponge.

1. Remove Caulk and Hardware

Grab a caulk removal tool or a spackling knife and get rid of all the old bathtub caulk. Use screwdrivers and other appropriate tools to remove all the hardware pieces from the bathtub.

2. Clean the Tub

Proper Ventilation

Open the windows and turn on the bathroom exhaust fan. You’re going to be using a lot of chemicals, and you need all the fresh air you can get.

Clean the bathtub using a mixture of 10 percent bleach diluted in a water bucket. Rinse the tub and use an abrasive cleaner to clean the tub further. Next up, use acetone to wipe the tub to remove chemical residue or grease.

3. Repair the Imperfections

If you notice any scratches or other imperfections on the surface of the tub, it’s time to repair them. You can use either tub repair kits or epoxy putty for this step.

Sand the surface of the bathtub in two passes. First, use 400-grit sandpaper and then 600-grit sandpaper. Rinse the tub and allow the surface to dry.

Application Tip

It’s very important to allow the tub to dry completely because any moisture can cause poor paint adhesion.

How to Paint a Bathtub

Now that the prep work is done, you can proceed with painting!

What You’ll Need

  • Two buckets/containers.
  • Container cover.
  • Tub refinishing kit/bathtub paint like this kit from Ekopel.
  • Painter’s tape.
  • Paintbrush/roller.

1. Prep the Area

Cleaning the tub was only the first step of preparation. Use painter’s tape to mask the bathtub edges and any potential pieces of hardware that shouldn’t be painted.

2. Mix the Epoxy

Put on your respirator mask and make sure the windows are still open. If you opted for a two-part epoxy kit, you have to combine the paint before applying it.

Grab an empty bucket, pour each part inside, and then mix it thoroughly. Carefully follow the directions when mixing to get a perfect consistency.

Put half of the mixture into another container as you’ll be using this for the second coat. Cover this container to avoid the mixture drying out.

3. Apply the Paint

Start applying the paint from the top corner and work your way across the tub on its diagonal. Aim for a thin and even coat using a roller or a paintbrush. Smooth out any stray drips with the brush as you go along.

Once the first coat has dried (about 48 hours), you can apply the second one. Let the paint cure for at least three days before using your bathtub.

Keep In Mind

Epoxy is a self-leveling product, so don’t worry too much about brush marks and bubbles.

Tips For Painting Bathtubs

With proper painting techniques, good products, and some maintenance, you can have a nice-looking bathroom for years to come.

  • Paint adhesion is significantly improved with thorough cleaning and scraping.
  • Before painting a metal bathtub, make sure the rusted areas have been cleaned and filled.
  • Using a paint coat as a substitute for filler is not acceptable.
  • Be careful of dropping objects in the tub. You can chip the enamel even if you drop a small and soft shampoo bottle on it.
  • Regular cleaning of your refinished tub will help to keep soap scum at bay.
  • Use a funnel to keep the caustic product from dripping onto the finished tub if you’re using a liquid drain opener.

Alternatives to Painting a Bathtub

If you don’t want to paint the bathtub, consider some other alternatives.

  • Spruce up the bathtub by adding some tile on its edges.
  • Build a custom bathtub frame.
  • Re-caulk your bathtub.
  • Use a polishing ball to make your bathtub shine.

FAQs

Still unsure? I promise it’s an easy task. But this extra info might set your mind at ease.

Why is My Bathtub Peeling?

Having your bathtub finish flake off indicates that it has been refinished in the past. If the refinishing was done correctly, the finish should last 10 to 15 years.

If the finish has been applied incorrectly, it will flake and peel considerably faster.

How Long Does a Painted Bathtub Last?

If you properly care for your bathtub, the paint job should last between 10 and 15 years. I recommend you go with a trusted brand like Rust-Oleum or Ekopel.

What is the Difference Between Reglazing and Refinishing Bathtubs?

Bathtub refinishing refers to a complete restoration of the tub. While reglazing is a commercial coating applied at the end of the refinishing process.

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Can You Paint a Sink?

Yes, it is possible to paint a sink. It’s also quite straightforward, with the most time-consuming part being the prep work.


In the End

As a result of daily use, bathtubs are among the hardest-hit areas in the bathroom. If you want it to last for many years, you must learn how to paint a bathtub. It’s easy, and it can save you hundreds of dollars.

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About the Author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author and Award-Winning Interior Designer. Using her years of hands-on experience, she now writes about design and DIY. She currently resides on the rocky East Coast of Canada with her family and slobbery bulldog.