If your bathtub has seen better days, you don’t have to demolish it for a cheap plastic model – restore it to as good as new!
Professionals don’t recommend lay people restore their own tubs, and sometimes for good reason. They get paid to be the experts and honest contractors will stand behind their work for the lifetime of their product. However, if you study, prepare and buy the necessary materials, you can restore your tub and save hundreds of dollars in the process.
The Internet is full do-it-yourself refinishing kits, but short on answers. Some of the best advice you can find will be given at your local paint stores. Ask your Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore or ACE Hardware representatives for their best advice.
Buy the Right Materials the First Time
Once you’ve learned as much about tub restoration as possible, it’s time to gather supplies. First and foremost, you’ll need protection for your face, hands and eyes. A pair of comfortable knee pads would be beneficial as well. When painting and sanding your tub, you will also need ventilation, protective clothing and a respirator.
For the job itself, you will need wet sandpaper (an electronic sander would be a great help), epoxy, the color of paint desired and a high quality brush or spray rig.
Pick your epoxy carefully, reading the fine print to ensure you’re getting the full amount stated. The last thing you want to do is run out of product halfway through your job. Don’t skimp on products to save money. You want to do this job right the first time and not have to worry about a peeling bathtub!
The Restoration Process
Begin by cleaning your bathtub. Scrub away as much grime and any anti-slip pads. Use abrasive pads, Lime-A-Way and degreasers. You’ll find what works best on your tub by trial and error.
Use 400- to 600-grain wet sandpaper to finish the cleaning process. Also, you will want to create a very abrasive surface so that the paint and epoxy will stick. Be sure to clean all residues and dry the surface extremely well.
Now it’s time to follow the instructions on the high quality epoxy you purchased from your favorite paint store.
Mix the epoxy and paint according to the directions, and apply with an air powered painting rig or a high quality hand brush. Rigs and compressors are the preferred method and can often be rented from your local ACE Hardware.
Most epoxies call for two coats, applied three hours apart. Be sure to brush in only one direction and allow sufficient time for each coat to dry. Feather the edges for a uniform coat. When the painting is done caulk any joints, also peeling and replacing any areas where the caulking has become brittle. Wipe away excess caulk with denatured alcohol, your finger or a rag.
Let your work dry as long as needed. Remember, better safe than sorry when waiting for wet paints and caulking to dry. Patience is a virtue!