If you are one of the millions of Americans that have an old cast iron bathtub you may have noticed it has become a bit tired, or perhaps chipped, due to the years of faithful service it has provided you and your family.
You have three choices if your tub has lost it’s original luster. You can install a cheap fiberglass bath fitter over top of it, you can tear it out and install a completely new tub, or you can re-paint it with a durable epoxy finish.
As a handyman, I would implore you to choose the last option. By re-painting it you maintain the aesthetic integrity of your bathroom and save a boat load of money.
Painting a bathtub is easy, though it requires a bit of labor and 72+ hours of cure time.
To begin with you want to clean the bathtub as if you were going to eat off of it. Then you want to clean it some more. Cleanliness is the key to this whole project. If there is once spec of dust, hair, or grime left on the surface of the tub, it may result in the epoxy chipping later on.
Most all-in-one box re-finishing sets will provide you with a special cleaning powder that when immersed into a bucket of water provides a cleaning solution that gets deep down into the microscopic cracks and washes away particles that will cause chipping issues later on.
After this cleaning you will sand the tub with steel wool to etch the current finish. By sanding you are introducing scratches that will act as anchors for the enamel paint to adhere to. Finally you want to clean the surface with the cleaning compound once again. Rinse the tub, and then dry it thoroughly. Repeat this process at least once or as many times as you can stand.
After you have dried the tub completely, (And I mean completely, one drop of water will cause the epoxy paint to bubble and dilute) it is time to tape off your fixtures. I recommend blue painters tape for this.
*Handy tip: Choose the blue painters tape with “Edge-Lock”. This tape is specially designed to give you a sharp edge which will help protect your fixtures from paint creeping under the edges.
Now you are ready to paint the tub. Open the can of paint and mix the two part epoxy together. Stir slowly, and never shake the can to mix it, as it will introduce bubbles into the paint which will transfer to your finish.
Note: A lot of my customer have asked me what refinishing epoxy I prefer. I've experimented with many different kinds and ultimately settled on Rust-Olium Tub & Tile. This product has a long lasting durable finish with the added benefit of a faster then normal cure time.
When applying the paint to the tub, patience is key. You are going to paint this bathtub at about the same speed as you get your finger nails painted if your a women. Slow even strokes will allow for a smooth flat finish. If you erratically paint in a hurry, it will show. You will end up with a lumpy uneven finish.
Let the first coat sit for 3 hours, then reapply 2 more times. Depending on how old your tub was, you may need more then 3 coats.
Lastly, find a friend, or family member, that lets you shower at their house. Your new tub needs at least 72 hours to dry. If you are planning a vacation you may want to consider painting it prior to leaving so you allow your tub more cure time. This paint dries slowly, and I mean slow! I have seen instances where the enamel hasn’t fully cured even after the 72 hour grace period.
After you’ve exercised extreme patience and worn out your welcome with your friends and family, you are ready to pull off the painters tape. Sometimes you may want to re-caulk around the tub for added water sealant, or vanity.
Enjoy your sparkling new tub!
If you are interested in contracting this service, it only takes me 1 day to have your tub looking like new again!
K&A Handyman Services
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