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.
- Purchase a bathtub repair and paint kit.
- Clean the tub, repair imperfections, and let it dry.
- Use painter’s tape to mask edges and hardware.
- Apply two coats of epoxy paint, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.
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.
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
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.
- Empty bucket.
- Abrasive bathtub cleaner.
- Epoxy putty.
- 400-grit sandpaper.
- 600-grit sandpaper.
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
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.
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.
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.
Still unsure? I promise it’s an easy task. But this extra info might set your mind at ease.
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.