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How to Resurface a Tub

by Paul Sanders

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Old claw-foot tub refinished

Things You Need:

  • Spray gun
  • Respirator mask
  • Goggles
  • Primer
  • Acid-based cleaner
  • Acid etching paste
  • Spray polyester
  • Top coating

Porcelain, acrylic and cast-iron tubs can chip and rust after years of use. Instead of installing a completely new tub, you may be able to resurface the old one to look like new. Follow these simple bathtub-refinishing steps to safely restore your old bathtub and revitalize your bath.

Resurfacing Your Tub:

  1. Set up ventilation in the bathroom. You'll be using chemicals with harmful fumes. During cleaning and painting, use a respirator, goggles and gloves. Leave none of your skin exposed. Open windows and set up a fan for ventilation.

  2. Remove caulk and clean the tub. Use a utility knife to remove the caulk from around the tub, being careful not to damage the tile. Clean up excess caulk with a razor blade.

  3. Use fine-grit sandpaper to sand down chipped or rusted areas.

  4. While wearing your respirator, use an acid-based commercial cleaner to scrub the tub surface. Rinse thoroughly.

  5. Use the acid etching paste on the entire tub surface. This will make the surface porous in preparation for the primer. Rinse thoroughly.

  6. Apply spray polyester to damaged areas. The polyester spray will fill in chips, cracks and rough spots. Give it about 45 minutes to dry. Alternatively, you can use putty rated for refinishing.

  7. Cover the floors, walls and fixtures. Use plastic or paper sheeting to cover everything and tape it down. Remove drain gaskets and other easily movable fixtures on the tub itself. Cover everything else in the room, including mirrors and windows.

  8. Apply the primer. Using the spray gun, apply an even coat of primer to the surface of the entire tub and allow it to dry according to instructions.

  9. Apply the top coat. Using the spray gun, apply the high-gloss top coat. Allow it to dry. Keep the room ventilated during the drying period.

  10. Clean up and apply caulk. Once you've properly disposed of the plastic and chemicals, reapply caulk to the edge of the tub and reinstall any hardware you removed.

Tub Resurfacing Tip:

  1. The fumes from the tub-resurfacing chemicals are extremely toxic. Properly ventilate the room and keep the bathroom sealed off from other parts of the house during resurfacing if possible.

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