Can You Paint A Bathtub? | Everything Explained
You’ve moved into that 1970’s fixer-upper, and it has a functional if dated main bathroom. Really, everything works, but who wants to live with Avocado Green or Rose? One quick way to freshen up the room without spending thousands is by painting the bathtub! But, can you paint a bathtub, and if so, how do you do it?
Let’s dive in!
Can You Paint A Bathtub?
Yes, if you use the correct type of paint such as an enamel paint kit designed for use in the bath. With some preparation and patience, you can banish the rust stains, chips, or faded colour into oblivion. However, standard emulsion paint will not work in such a wet environment.
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What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On A Bathtub?
Look for a complete kit like the Tubby Bath Resurfacing kit or Renotub Premium Resurfacing Kit. You will spend between £75 to £100 on the paint, rollers, trays, tape, primer, and sanding cloths. The paint will be labelled as enamel paint intended for use in a bathroom or kitchen. You will need one day for the job itself and up to three days to allow the paint to cure before using the bathroom again.
How To Paint A Bathtub | Step-By-Step
You cannot skip steps and still get a beautiful paint job on your bathtub. Take your time to do each step right for the best result!
1. Prepare the Surface
The final paint job for a bathtub will only be as good as your prep. Follow every instruction precisely as described on the paint can or box.
Remove All Doors, Curtains, and Mats
Take everything out of the bathroom that may be harmed by paint. The tub and enclosure should be completely cleared out of toiletries, scrubbies, hooks, and removable shelves.
Scrub the Tub and Scrub it Again
Remove any glue or adhesive left behind by shower doors. For a crisp finished look, also take out the caulk along the edge of the bath. Use your usual cleaner to eliminate as much staining, soap scum, and dirt as possible. Once you think the bath is clean, clean it all a second time.
Use Supplied Sanding Cloth
You need to knock down the glossy finish to provide a good surface for the new paint. Rub the sanding cloth vigorously over every inch of the tub inside and out. Once you got it all, do it again. Vacuum out any dust and then wipe it down with a damp cloth.
Thoroughly Dry the Entire Bathroom
The paint you are using will not stick to even a slightly damp surface. Run the exhaust fan and take a hairdryer to the entire bath and the surrounding walls. Spend extra time heating the drain. Do not use any water in the bathroom during the project. If it is a humid summer day, you may want to wait until dryer weather arrives to tackle the job.
Tape Off the Edges, Drain, and Taps
Use painters tape all around the edge of the bath to prevent accidental droplets from getting on tile, walls, and floors. Put plastic bags over the spout, taps, and overflow drain cover. Tape those in place.
Fully Ventilate the Room
The epoxy paint you are using is noxious. Run the exhaust fan, open all windows, and you should wear a ventilator mask designed for work with high VOC paint. If the kids and pets can spend the day outside or at a friend’s house, that is a good idea.
2. Start Painting The Bathtub
Now you are ready to start painting!
Apply Primer If Needed
You may need to use a primer coat if you had a shower door mounted to the edge of the bath. It helps to seal any adhesive or silicone left behind by the mounting hardware. The kit may suggest other reasons to use primer.
Apply Non-Skid Coat to the Bottom
Your bathtub paint kit comes with a little mixing jar and a small amount of texture to be mixed with the paint. You will roll this out on the floor of the bath or shower for a non-skid surface. Let dry according to the label before working on the rest of the tub.
Use Foam Brush for Edges and Around the Fittings
Fill up your foam brush with a generous amount of paint and dab it into the corners all around the edge of the tub. Never skimp on the paint when working with bathtub paint. A thicker layer is better.
Roll Out Paint Over the Rest of the Tub
Now start painting the inside walls of the bath. Use a 4 or 5-inch roller instead of the larger one intended for painting walls. Work the roller in multiple directions and never let the roller run dry. Paint the edges along the wall and then do a second coat on the inside of the bath. Pay extra attention around the drain. Once you have two good layers on the back edges and the inside, you can work on the front edge and the outside.
Apply a Second Coat
Follow the directions for dry time between coats and follow the same working pattern for the second coat. The second coat delivers that professional gloss that you expect in any bath.
3. Drying Time And Finishing Touches
You’re almost there. Just a few last finishing touches.
Follow Instructions for Dry Time and Removal of Tape
Your paint kit may recommend removing the tape before the paint cures or letting it dry fully. Follow the instructions on the label. You may need to let the bath cure for up to 72 hours before you can use the bathroom at all. Even using the sink before the paint cures can result in bubbles, drips, and poor adhesion.
Apply a Line of Silicone Caulk
For a finished look that also prevents any water from getting behind the bath and walls.
Repair Chips to Maintain the Surface
Your painted tub will keep looking like new for years when it is maintained. If you notice any chips, use a bathtub paint chip repair kit to fill them and stop the paint from peeling. Use a soft cloth and non-abrasive cleaner to keep it gleaming.
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Can You Spray Paint A Bathtub?
Yes, there are enamel bathtub spray paints available. However, it is much harder to get an even and professional coat using spray paint. You will also need to cover the entire bathroom to prevent overspray from getting on other fixtures, the floor, windows, and lights. If you are DIY-ing this, you are more likely to be happy with the roll-on paint.
Is It Safe To Paint A Bathtub?
Yes, it is safe to paint a bathtub. However, while painting you need to follow all the recommended safety instructions for ventilation, protection of skin, eyes, and lungs. Also, check with your local council for proper disposal of the paint cans, rags, and rollers. Once the bathtub paint has fully cured, the surface will be just as safe as the rest of your bathroom fixtures for daily use.
There you have it! Everything you need to know about painting your bathtub.
It’s totally possible to freshen up the look of your dated bathtub and give it a new lease on life by painting in. Make sure you have the correct paint, take your time with the steps above and follow the instructions to get a good as new finish.
That’s your weekend plans sorted.
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Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.