Bath Tub and Shower Refinishing

Though I don't want to discourage do-it-yourselfers from refinishing their own tubs or enclosures, my first instinct is to tell them that it isn't as easy as getting a can of spray paint and repainting a small piece of furniture.  First, to do a good job you need a HVLP paint spraying system. That means high volume, low pressure. If you have never used this type of equipment before, you could make a big mess.  (Or experiment a bit and learn... the way handymen of old learned how to use strange tools!)

Preparation is essential. If not done correctly, the finish will most definitely begin peeling.

What about the "hardware store" bathtub refinishing kits?

You can purchase the kits at your local hardware stores but they are designed to be applied with a paint brush or roller. The result, unfortunately, is that these kit jobs LOOK painted! You may have problems with peeling. If you call a refinisher after that they will charge more because they have to remove all the old stuff.

Choosing a professional refinisher...

When looking for a refinisher ask them the following:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How long have you lived in the area?
  • What type of guarantee to you give? How many years?
  • What process do you use, chemical bond or acid etching?

Most refinishers offer 5 year guarantee, some of the older systems only offer 1 or 2 years. If they offer more than 5, I would be worried because it is only good if that company is still around.

Acid etching is an old method that has a tendency to peel much sooner than chemical bonding.  It was developed to allow the refinishing product to adhere to ceramic tile and porcelain tubs.  A newer option is chemical bonding using a primer that adheres tenaciously, giving a great base for the finish.  It will also work on plastic/fiberglass enclosures.

Here are the general steps in refinishing a bathtub:

  • Put the drop cloths on the flooring (to prevent damaging any carpets or flooring in the home). Be sure to have a plastic garbage bag handy.
  • Hook up an exhaust fan of some type. This is to get rid of any excess fumes from the chemicals.
  • Hook up Positive Supply Air Respirator.
  • Remove all caulking around the tub and the tile walls. Use a flat head screwdriver or Exacto knife. (See article on caulk removal)
  • For refinishing tiles, be sure to remove any loose grouting between the tiles.
  • Scrape down tub removing any paint, or other build up. Look for chips and holes. Scrape the chips and try to make larger. (Scrape with a safety scraper blade.)
  • Scrub the tub or tiles with DNX Cleaner. Be sure to wear rubber gloves. (Use 3M Burgundy scotch brite pad). Be sure to clean around drain and the outside of the tub. After scrubbing wipe off with damp sponge. Keep sponge rinsed and clean.
  • Using Refinishers Power Clean and the scouring pad, scrub the tub or tiles. Wipe off with damp sponge.
  • Sand the chip using water and 220 grit wet/dry sand paper. Remove as much dirt and rust as possible. If the porcelain around the chip seems loose, try to remove it with a blade. (Sometimes a small chip may end up really being 3 times the size after preparation.)
  • Clean around the chips that need to be fixed. Put some Prep Solvent on a paper towel and wipe. Now repeat cleaning with Silicone Wash.
  • Fill in the holes, cracks, scratches and pinholes by using the filler. Sand filler after it hardens. Start with using 220 wet/dry sandpaper and then use 400 wet/dry. Make sure it is as smooth as possible.
  • Clean the tub and/or tile with a cloth for all dust, etc. Using a vacuum can be handy.
  • Using paper or plastic to mask around the room to protect the areas that you don't want to be coated; such as floor, tiles, drain, taps etc. Use a tape that does not pull off paint, wall paper or that paint may leak through. Be sure to mask the drain and the floor well. Make sure that the faucet is not dripping. You do not want any water on the coating.
  • Wipe down surface with Prep Solvent. This step may be done before masking. It is recommended that when using Prep Solvent or Silicone Wash that you wear an Organic Cartridge Respirator or a Positive Air Supply Respirator.
  • Wipe down surface with Silicone Wash.
  • Apply a small amount of Refinishers Bond bonding agent over the entire surface. Be extra careful that you don't miss a spot. This is the key to a no peel finish.
  • Now mix the Refinishers PX Gloss Coating as specified.
  • We recommend using three coats of this coating. The first coat should be a tack coat. It should just have speckles all over. This coat will help prevent it from running. Wait about 5 to 15 minutes between coats. The second coat should be heavier. The last coat, known as the wet coat, should be put on as heavy as possible without causing it to run. It is strongly recommended to be using a Positive Air Respirator during this application.
  • Clean gun and equipment with Prep Solvent, or Refinishers CZ/PX Thinner. Wait until the tub is touch dry (about 15 to 30 minutes depending on temperature), and then start removing the masking around the tub.
  • Silicone between bath tub and wall and where ever else is needed.

Copyright 2019 G George Ventures Inc.