How to Refinish and Paint a Bathtub With Epoxy Paint
Can you paint a bathtub?
The short answer is "Yes, you can," but there is more to it than that. If you use some types of latex paint, I can guarantee that your satisfaction in a job well done will be very short-lived. The paint won't last past the first few baths. Things to consider before you begin:
- The type of paint you use will play a large part in determining the quality of the work, as will preparation. Prepping the surface and using the right materials are key to success here.
- The difficulty of the project needs to be considered. Are you prepared to take on a home improvement task?
- Your expectations of the finished product need to be evaluated. The finish will not be absolutely perfect, and if you don't like the result, it could well require a complete bathtub change.
Each of these points will be discussed in detail below.
Bathtub paint from Amazon
What kind of bathtub paint should I use?
There are several products and manufactures that supply paint intended for bathtubs, tile, and sinks. Both one and two part epoxy paints can be used, and I would recommend the two part brush on epoxy paint even though it requires mixing two paints into one. Any leftover material will not be usable, but it is a small price to pay for a high quality job. The one pictured here, from Rust-Oleum, is the one used in this article, and I was very pleased with the result.
While a spray can of epoxy paint is also available and might give a better, smoother surface, it will also be extremely difficult to clean up places where the spray breached or worked its way behind the masking material. In addition, a spray requires a great deal more care in masking off areas that are not to be sprayed.
Under no circumstances should you use regular paint (not made specifically for bathtubs) as they are simply not designed to stand up under constant water conditions. It is one thing to have paint that is occasionally rained upon, and quite another to have it underwater for long periods of time.
How to Paint a Bathtub
The first step is obviously to read the directions on your chosen paint. A two part paint will require mixing the two parts into one container while a one part will not.
- Clean the tub thoroughly with soap and water and make any repairs as necessary before beginning. Easy-to-remove pieces such as faucet handles, trim, and the water spout should be removed. If the shower door is fitted to the bathtub, consider removing it as well; removal and installation will take only a few minutes and is probably quicker and easier than masking and carefully painting around the bottom track of the door. It may be necessary to do some sanding with 200 grit up to 600 grit sandpaper, and a thorough cleaning with TSP is a good idea as well.
- Mask off the wall at the tub edge with masking tape, as well as any other parts not to be painted, such as the drain. Don't try to paint right up against these items without masking them, as removal of excess epoxy paint will be difficult, if not impossible. Extra time spent masking is well worth the effort.
- Painting can be done with a small paintbrush for the edges that are masked off and either a large brush or a roller for the larger surfaces. Brushes and rollers won't really be cleanable, so don't use your best brush; buy a cheaper brush and discard when finished.
- Two coats are almost certainly required and the drying time will vary depending on which paint you use, as will the instructions for what to do with the epoxy while the tub is drying.
- Following the instructions for your particular paint, then re-apply after drying the recommended amount of time. Store the paint and brushes during this drying period as instructed on the paint—different paints and manufacturers recommend different storage methods.
- After a second drying period, remove masking tape and re-affix any removed items such as faucets. Again, check the paint instructions for the time necessary before using the bathtub and wait at least that long if not a few days longer.
My Personal Experience in Painting a Bathtub with Epoxy Paint
When my wife and I bought our latest home it came with hideous avocado green fixtures throughout the house. While I changed out the kitchen sink and toilets, I did not want the expense or work of replacing a bathtub and instead decided to try painting it.
I used a two part epoxy paint that required mixing with no trouble. Interestingly, the instructions were to store the paint brush and paint in the freezer overnight while the first coat was drying. I very nearly decided that they really meant the refrigerator, but finally wrapped the brushes in Saran Wrap and stored them, along with the paint, as instructed. The next morning the brush was still soft and pliable and the paint in good condition, ready for the second coat. (Lesson learned: Follow the instructions.)
My own paint job turned out very well, with no runs or streaks. The paint was very smooth and it was hard to tell it had been painted at all. I also painted a small bathroom sink at the same time with the only problem there being that my brush was really too large. Nevertheless, it also turned out well. I did wait a week before using the bathtub or sink even though the instructions did not indicate that it was necessary to wait that long. As I have another bathroom available, it was not a particular hardship and I felt the it wasn't worth any risk at all of peeling the paint up prematurely.
That work was done nearly 10 years ago, and I am just now seeing some chipping and peeling of the paint. One very large spot in the bathtub has chipped off, along with a couple of very small areas as well as a couple of small chips in the sink. It has actually lasted longer than I expected it to, and I plan on re-painting the bathtub. The sink, being more difficult to get a good job in and much cheaper and easier to replace, will probably be replaced in the near future along with the countertop.
Overall, with the understanding that the paint will not last forever and will need to be redone some time in the future, I found that painting was a good alternative to replacing.
Questions & Answers
My tub is rusted around the drain. I am selling my house and the bathroom will be completely re-done, so I don't want to spend much money. The city inspector said to either paint it or replace the whole (built-in, cast-iron) tub. My question, Can I use the Rustoleum Tub spray epoxy to cover just around my drain? Also, what grit of sandpaper should I use to get the best adhesion?
Yes, you could paint just around the drain, but it will be visible. There is almost no chance the colors will match exactly and the edge of the paint, even sprayed, will also be apparent.
I'd use around a 60 grit to get rid of the rust, followed with a 120 or so anywhere you're going to paint. If a spray is used, follow the 120 with a 240 or so.
My epoxy paint is not drying with a gloss finish?
I have used the Rustoleum brand twice now, on different projects, and both times it came out very glossy. Could your paint roller have been too rough, or spray not put on heavy enough?
As a fix, you might try sanding, ending up with at least 400 grit sandpaper, but it will be a tough job.
Can I touch-up a bathtub using epoxy paint, and a gravity brush gun?
I can't imagine that being very successful. The epoxy paint is just too thick for any kind of gun, and I think you would have a very hard time feathering the edges into the existing. I also don't know how you would ever get the gun clean again - it would likely be a throw away after putting epoxy through it.
I have a bathtub and sink both chipping to expose a sage green. Don’t know if it is steel or cast iron underneath, though the bottom of the sink resembles cast iron, but doesn’t have the same sound as a cast iron fry pan. Either way, the refinishing/painting appears to be new and poorly done (bought the house eight months ago) so I am not concerned about lead paint. Can I continue to use the tub without worry? Will the chipping just spread?
I'm sure you can use both without worrying about lead. But while the chipping will almost surely continue to spread, it just won't cause any harm when it does. It will just look ugly.
© 2010 Dan Harmon