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Can You Paint a Bathtub?

red paint can with brush on wooden plank background
boonchai wedmakawand / Getty-Images

We all strive to create a bathroom space that reflects our unique style and personality through remodels and renovations. The average cost of a bathroom renovation is $11,362, while installing an average bathtub might cost you $500 to $1,000. As such, an easy and inexpensive way to update your bathroom is by transforming your bathtub using bathtub paint.

Repainting your tub can be daunting, particularly if you’ve never done it before. This post summarizes all you need to know about painting your bathtub.

How to paint a bathtub yourself

Before you begin, you will need to take the necessary safety precautions. For starters, make sure you have a respirator mask and a ventilation fan. A respirator mask is particularly essential for individuals who are allergic to particulate matter.

Next, you will need to decide on the tub paint. Regular and low-quality latex paints might not be able to withstand the high moisture levels in a bathroom, and the results will not last long. The paint you should choose depends on your type of tub. For cast iron tubs, use oil-based paint and primer, and for an acrylic tub, use an acrylic polymer paint.

Finally, decide on whether to use a spray gun, roller or paintbrush. A spray gun will give you a professional finish, but it is expensive compared to a paintbrush. On the other hand, using brushes and rollers might not give the precision a spray gun can.

Step-by-step guide on how to paint your bathtub

  1. Clean the tub and remove all caulk using a caulk removal tool or a spackling knife.
  2. Carefully remove the faucet and drain hardware.
  3. Mask off the area around your tub and any fixtures remaining in place.
  4. Set up your ventilation fan and open the windows in your bathroom.
  5. Etch your tub’s surface with etching cream or powder. The cream dulls its finish so that the new coat of bathtub paint bonds better.
  6. Rinse the tub and wipe it with a dry cloth or paper towels and let it dry completely.
  7. Apply the primer or epoxy, depending on what you’ve purchased, and let it dry as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  8. Start applying the paint on the sides of the tub, alternating between horizontal and vertical strokes to help prevent drips. Paint the tub deck and use a sponge brush to finish the edges.
  9. If necessary and after adequate drying time, apply a second coat of paint.
  10. Allow your tub two to three days to dry up completely, and then re-caulk the tub, and reinstall the faucet and any other hardware.

Products and tools for painting a bathtub

You will need the following products and tools for this project:

When to call in a professional to paint a bathtub

If you’ve ever taken on a DIY home remodel, you know that some projects are much more challenging than others. In those cases, you might want to consider hiring a contractor as they are more experienced in bathtub repaint projects. Qualified contractors have an eye for detail and can give direction on the best approach to remodeling. They can also create custom paint colors and help you avoid any health and safety issues within your specific space.

Though DIYing a bathtub paint job can save you a few hundred dollars, a professional contractor will save you time you’d have spent purchasing products and learning the techniques needed. They have access to professional tools that will make the job efficient with minimal flaws.

You’ll also want to hire a professional if you have no expertise handling the plumbing system or your bathroom’s waterproofing.

Alternatives to bathtub paint

Rather than repainting your bathtub, an inexpensive but equally effective alternative would be using a tub liner. When you install a tub liner, your bathtub is measured by a professional who specializes in it. The liner is slipped over your old tub like a glove, and existing fixtures are installed over the new liner. Choosing a tub liner over DIY painting saves you the hassle and mess involved in the latter.

If you want a long-term solution, you might want to consider bathtub replacement. Although it can be expensive, you get to choose your preferred tub material and design.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you paint a bathtub?

Yes, bathtubs can be painted with a near-new finish with a little elbow grease. You just need to make sure you have the right equipment and tools such as an epoxy primer and resin finish.

Are there bathtub painting kits?

There are a lot of DIY bathtub painting kits available. They usually come with the products you’ll need, and new ones are continually being introduced. The kit you should choose depends on your preferences and desired outcome.

How long will my repainted bathtub last?

The duration depends on the quality of the materials you’ve used and how well you’ve done the job. You also need to have given your bathtub enough time to cure before using it since a recently painted tub is susceptible to chips and scratches if you abuse it. With care, your bathtub refinish can last anywhere from ten to fifteen years.

How long will it take to repaint my bathtub?

A standard bathtub will take you three to five hours to repaint without encountering any issues. However, this depends on how well you are prepared for the job and your painting proficiency. If you’re just learning, expect it to take longer.


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