Reglazing a bathtub may be your only option if it looks faded and scratched. When you compare the costs of replacing your bathtub, it could be the cheapest solution.
We show you how to refinish a bathtub, compare reglazing to a replacement, and explain the pros and cons.
Can I Reglaze My Bathtub Myself?
The DIY approach can seem daunting, especially if you’ve never refinished a tub before. Luckily, there are reglazing kits you can buy to make the task easier. This Ekopel DIY Tub and Sink refinishing kit is a great example of the products available.
It means your bathtub can get refurbished, and you save on professional costs. But, and it’s a big but, be under no illusions that refinishing a bathtub is a job for those with moderate DIY skills.
If you lack the will, confidence, or time, it would be better to call the pros and get the work done correctly.
Reglazing a Bathtub Pros and Cons
Every DIY task has ups and downs, but what are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of performing a tub restoration?
- Cheaper than calling the pros.
- Do the work when you want.
- Instant results.
- Increases the lifespan of your tub.
- Better for the environment.
- Less hassle and mess.
- Takes some skill.
- Takes a lot of prep work.
- Doesn’t work well on cheaper bathtubs.
- You might need to vacate your home due to odors.
- Can only be done once.
- Reglazing doesn’t last as long as a new tub.
How to Reglaze a Bathtub
Before we get down to business, we need to gather the right tools for the job. However, because chemicals in the refinishing kit are dangerous, you will need the proper safety gear.
- Rubber gloves.
- Safety goggles.
What You’ll Need
- Putty knife.
- Abrasive pad.
- Bucket and sponge.
- Paint roller and tray.
- Sponge paintbrush.
- Drop cloths.
- Caulk gun and waterproof caulk.
- Chemical caulk remover.
- Abrasive cleaning agent.
- Painter’s tape.
- Wet and dry sandpaper (400 to 600-grit).
- Paper towels.
- Tack cloth.
1. Remove Tub Hardware
You must strip the tub back to its bare shell before you recoat. Remove any escutcheons or cover plates, unscrew faucet spouts and use the putty knife to scrape away any soap grime, caulk residue, and dirt.
Try using caulk remover for hardened sealant. This Crown Tuff works wonders on stubborn caulk spots.
2. Clean the Bathtub
With the fittings removed, give the bathtub a thorough clean using bleach. If you have heavy mineral staining, try Lime-A-Way Calcium and Rust cleaner. Clorox is another popular and effective brand.
Don’t forget to don your gloves and safety goggles. Bleach burns when it makes contact with skin and eyes.
You can use an abrasive pad because it doesn’t matter if you scratch the tub surface. When done, rinse with water and leave the tub to dry.
3. Lay the Drop Cloths
Lay the drop cloths around the tub’s base and secure it to the floor with painter’s tape. Do the same where the tub touches walls and tiles. This Frogtape adheres to multiple surfaces and doesn’t leave any residue when removed.
It protects your work area from epoxy splashes that can be hard to remove.
4. Work in a Ventilated Environment
Coating a tub is smelly and dirty work. Sanding can produce toxic dust, which is dangerous if inhaled, so do your respirator for this next bit. Open windows and doors and switch on the bathroom extractor fan.
This 3M Respirator is popular and protects against vapors, gases, and particulate hazards like dust and fiberglass.
5. Etch the Surface
Your kit should include an etching powder to dull the tub’s surface. Apply it to the tub using water and an abrasive pad and scrub for all your worth. When finished, rinse the tub with water.
6. Time to Sand
Start with the 400-grit wet and dry sandpaper and then move on to the 600-grit. Do this while the tub is still wet. Rough up the edges and corners to ensure that the refinish adheres. It could be the difference between the enamel coating sticking or peeling off.
This stage is crucial to help the epoxy bond, especially if your kit doesn’t come with an etching powder.
Wipe down the tub with paper towels to ensure it is completely dry, and then use the tack cloth to remove the last dust residues.
7. Time to Prime
Before you start, check that your kit is not self-priming. Assuming it’s not, apply the primer with the paint roller and foam paintbrush. You can buy Pro-Grade Brushes online or from your local hardware store.
Leave the primer to dry for the recommended time on the packaging.
Avoid leaving lint on your primed surface by rubbing sticky tape over the roller cover. This removes loose particles.
8. Mix the Epoxy
Use the paint tray to mix the hardener and epoxy according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Work rapidly because it starts to thicken and set when you add the hardener. Read the label to get an idea of the working time you have.
Mix enough to coat the tub in one session.
9. Apply the Epoxy Resin
Use the roller to apply the epoxy to your tub’s surface. Use horizontal and vertical stripes to reduce drips and roller ridges. Start with the tub sides and then coat the tub base. Use a foam paintbrush for the edges and corners.
Check the label guidelines before starting the second coat. Some require an immediate application, while others tell you to wait a couple of hours between layers. Once the second layer is on, follow the drying times.
Some products might take two full days to cure.
Seal off the bathroom to prevent odors from seeping into your home. Open windows and keep the extractor fan working for the first day of drying. Some products are so pungent that you may have to leave your home while the tub dries.
10. Caulk and Replace Hardware
Once the tub is dry, install the hardware and caulk between the tile and tub. Let the caulk dry for 24 hours before using the bathtub.
You may need to fill the bathtub with water so that it is at the correct level when you recaulk it.
How Long Does Bathtub Reglazing Last?
Your bathtub recoat is only a temporary solution. It won’t last as long as the glaze on a new bathtub, so you’ll be lucky to get two or three years before it fades. However, getting it done professionally may extend that lifespan to 10 years.
Average Cost of Refinishing a Bathtub
If you lack the will and skill to complete redoing your bathtub, you need to call the pros. The average cost of getting a professional to refinish ranges from $285 to $950.
Refinishing Vs. Replacing a Bathtub
A lot depends on the quality and condition of your bathtub. If you’ve spent a small fortune on the tub and want to keep it as long as possible, it would be better to reglaze it. However, if the tub is beyond saving, maybe it’s time to replace it.
You may be fixing up a rental property and are looking for a budget tub. If that’s the case, there is no point spending $150 plus on a reglazing kit when you can get a completely new tub for $100 more.
All Praise the Bathtub Reglaze
The difference in your bathtub before and after a reglaze is stark. It looks like a new tub and should last a good few years before it wears out.
Knowing how to resurface a bathtub is a practical and valuable skill. Think of the cost of a new tub, and you can see why refinishing it instead saves you money. So, now you know how to reglaze a bathtub; what are you waiting for?