How to Refinish Bathtubs

Two Methods:Preparing the SurfaceRefinishing the Bathtub

You can refinish a bathtub because you want to change it's color. You can also choose to refinish it because it's stained or chipped. Refinishing the surface of your existing bathtub, instead of buying and installing a new tub, is a less expensive way to make a tub look new. This article explains how to refinish bathtubs.


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    Replacement: Tear out your existing tub/shower and replace. What's the worst part of this? The demolition. Cost: $1,000 or more.
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    Refinishing: Refinishing is a hire-the-pro project. DIY is great for many things, but it is virtually impossible to do a decent bathtub refinishing job by yourself. Porcelain, fiberglass, and cast-iron tubs can all be refinished.
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    Tub Liners: At prices equal to or greater than refinishing, bathtub liners are not the bargain option. But they are always cheaper than full replacement, and unlike refinishing, you never worry about the finish wearing away.
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    DIY Refinishing: Worth mentioning as something you probably do not want to take on. Nearly impossible to achieve a smooth finish, and DIY finishes will begin to peel and chip soon after.

Method 1
Preparing the Surface

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    Clean the entire surface of the bathtub with chemical cleaners to remove any soap scum and dirt residue. The chemical cleaners will also help the bonding agent adhere to the surface.
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    Rinse and dry all surfaces thoroughly.
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    Use a palm sander to gently roughen the surfaces you plan to refinish to make it easier for the paint to bond with the surface.
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    Tape paper or plastic over any surfaces you do not want to paint. Keep in mind that you'll be painting with a spray gun, so you may want to cover a larger than you would if painting with a brush.
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    Use a spray bottle to apply a bonding agent before painting if your bathtub is porcelain. Allow 5 minutes for the bonding agent to dry.

Method 2
Refinishing the Bathtub

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    Prepare the primer according to the package instructions. Pour the primer into the paint pot of the spray gun. Attach the paint pot to the spray gun.
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    Paint each surface back and forth in an even motion for consistent coverage. Apply 2 coats of primer, allowing at least 30 minutes between coats for the primer to dry.
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    Apply 3 coats of acrylic top coat. Wait at least 30 minutes between each coat.
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    Allow 24 to 48 hours before using your newly resurfaced bathtub.


  • If you're not used to using a spray gun, practice on another surface, such as a scrap piece of plywood, before painting the bathtub.
  • Do not use bathtub mats with suction cups in a refinished bathtub.
  • Extend the life and beauty of your newly refinished bathtub by waxing it every 6 months with a urethane polish that can be purchased at an auto supply store.
  • Do not use harsh or highly abrasive cleansers on the bathtub once it has been refinished because they can scratch or chip the new surface. Use a soft-scrub cleanser.
  • Over-spraying will cause the paint drips. Stop spraying each time you reach the edge of a surface before reversing direction.


  • Open windows and use the exhaust fan when sanding and painting to avoid toxic dust and fumes. If the bathroom does not have an exhaust fan, use a portable fan to blow dust and fumes out of the open window.
  • Be sure to wear proper protective equipment when using harsh chemicals, sanding, and using the spray gun.

Things You'll Need

  • Chemical cleaner
  • Palm sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Masking tape
  • Paper or plastic
  • Bonding agent (for use with porcelain bathtubs)
  • Respirator or face mask, safety goggles, and rubber gloves
  • High volume, low pressure paint spray gun
  • Epoxy paint or primer
  • Acrylic polymer top coat paint, gloss finish

Article Info

Categories: Plumbing Drains Waste and Vents