We Know: How to Refinish a Bathtub

Why would you want to refinish a bathtub?

If the bathtub does not have any significant cracks or structural damage, it may be cheaper to simply refinish it than to buy a new one. This is particularly true of antique or clawed tubs.

What are the steps to refinishing a bathtub?

Follow these steps along with the manufacturer's recommendations for any refinishing products you use:

  1. Protect your work area with drop cloths or newspapers. If you are not removing the bathtub's hardware, cover it with newspaper and/or tape. It is extremely important that the area be properly ventilated with blower or window fans. Also be certain to use a fume-approved respirator, goggles, rubber gloves, and protective clothing. Keep pets and small children away from the area.
  2. Thoroughly clean the surface of any soap residue. Also be sure to remove any caulking. Completely dry all surfaces.
  3. Apply a Hydrofluoric Acid etching chemical to the bathtub's surface. It can be applied with an industrial sponge or a large natural bristle paintbrush. Be aware that the acid is likely to damage anything on which it spills. For this reason, do not let the acid flow down the drain. The acid will take about 15 minutes to complete its work of preparing the surface for the new enamel coating. Cracks and chips should also get the acid treatment. To neutralize the acid, sprinkle the surface liberally with baking soda powder.
  4. Thoroughly wash the bathtub's surface with warm water and soap. Remove all powder and residue buildup.
  5. To fill in damaged areas, use fiberglass body filler according to its directions.
  6. Eliminate all water sources to ensure that the tub will stay dry. You can seal off the spout and shower head with plastic baggies and rubber bands. Make sure the tub is dry.
  7. Sand the tub's surface. A palm sander works well for this.
  8. Vacuum then use a solvent to thoroughly clean the tub.
  9. Using a urethane primer, apply two coats. A spray gun works best.
  10. Apply a gloss finish Aliphatic Acrylic Polyurethane Enamel. In addition to white, a variety of colors is available. Two to three topcoats are the norm. Depending on the product you use, expect to wait 24-48 hours before the paint cures enough to use the tub.

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