How to Refinish Your Bathtub

Remodeling a bathroom is expensive, not only because of the cost of bathroom staples like bathtubs, toilets and vanities, but because of the labor to gut the bathroom and do the work. If you want to improve the look of your bathroom, but have a limited budget, then you may want to refinish your old bathtub as opposed to buying and installing a new one. This process is not the easiest do-it-yourself project, but it is a lot easier than trying to take out the old bathtub and install a new one.

What You Will Need

There are several items that you will need to refinish your bathtub. The general supplies that you will need include: masking tape, plastic, scraper, putty knife, shop vac, ventilation system (optional), and 120 grit sand paper. The products that you will need for your tub refinish project include: a body filler, an epoxy primer, bathtub glaze and finishing products like tint and hardeners.

Step By Step Instructions

The first step that you will need to take is to examine your current plumbing. If your bathtub is in bad shape your plumbing may also be in bad shape. It is a good idea to take care of plumbing problems before you reglaze so that the new finish is not damaged in the process.

Prepare your bathroom for a three day surgery. Remove everything from the bathroom and make sure you have an alternate bathroom to use for the next two to three days. If your bathroom has windows then open them to provide proper ventilation during the refinishing process. If your bathroom has limited ventilation then you may need to rent a portable ventilation system for your project.

Prepare the plumbing for your project. Remove the showerhead, the overflow cap and the spout. These will be damaged if not removed before the glazing process. Keep them in a safe place, or buy new fixtures.

Prepare the tub for pre-glazing by removing the old grout and caulking using a knife. Make sure you clean up the materials that you remove from the tub so that particles from these used items don’t stick to your glazing. You will also want to use a super strength bathroom cleaner to clean your tub’s surface. Also use a 120 grit sandpaper to sand down the surface of your tub and remove calcium buildups and old paint chips. Allow your tub to dry and then wash out the tub with a hydrofluoric acid. Let the acid bath stand 10 t0 15 minutes and then rinse the tub with cold water. Sand again to smooth out divots caused by the acid wash. Rinse again and allow the tub to dry.

Apply the body filler to smooth out the surface of your bathtub. You will want an even and smooth surface as a base for your new glaze. Don’t forget to fill unevenness on the bathtub’s ledger as well as the body of the tub. Allow time for the filler to harden and then sand it smooth and remove dust with a cloth and/or shop vac.

Prepare your bathroom for the glazing process by masking off the floor and draping everything in the bathroom, except for the tub, with plastic.

Use your epoxy primer to apply a tack coat to your tub’s prepared surface. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s directions. Don’t rush the application of your primer coats. You will most likely need to apply two or three tack coats before progressing on to the primer.

Once primed you can mix up your glaze and apply it. Again follow the instructions that came with the glaze. Some glazes will take 48 hours to dry before you can use the tub, while others only take four hours. It is a good idea, however, to wait at least 12 hours before you install the plumbing fixtures and re-caulk and grout your tub.

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