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Do you want to revamp your bathtub? Use this easy to follow guide

When it comes to renovation of a bathroom, you might be tempted to drop everything and start over. After all, nothing says relaxation less than soaking in an old, water-stained bathtub — and that’s not exactly the aesthetic footing you want to put on your back when spending all sorts of money to transform the rest of your space. Still, there’s one at-home solution you can undertake that will save you money while still delivering that sparkling new bathroom design you’ve seen in your Pinterest fever dreams: refinishing your tub.

Finishing your tub might seem like something best left to the pros, but it’s actually a surprisingly easy project for weekend do-it-yourselfers to tackle. Finishing a bathtub usually involves using a DIY kit (available at many hardware stores) to cover an existing enamel, acrylic or fiberglass tub surface with a new hard epoxy coating that will extend its life and repair any small issues, such as cracks or rust. Below, we walk you through the step-by-step process of refinishing a tub, including materials, safety considerations, and more.

KARYN MILLET, Karyn Millet

You will need:

Before starting…

When it comes to refinishing your tub, it’s essential to start with the right protection for both you and your bathroom. The chemicals needed to properly recondition your bath’s surface can be harsh, so it’s important to protect yourself accordingly with a mask, gloves, and adequate ventilation in your work area. Likewise, the epoxy used to refinish your tub can be very difficult to remove from unwanted areas, so be sure to protect any nearby backsplash or flooring with construction paper or drop cloths before beginning your project.

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Step 1: Remove hardware from tub

Start by turning off the water supply to your tub, then carefully remove any fixtures or finishes in the surrounding area, including drain covers, tub spouts, etc.

Step 2: Scrape off old putty

Finishing your bathtub is a great opportunity to also preserve its performance for years to come. A foolproof way to do it? Replacement of existing caulking. To remove what’s currently in place, use a scraper or stainless steel blade to gently loosen the caulk from your tub’s surface and peel it away. In more difficult cases, you can also rely on a chemical stripper if necessary.

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Step 3: Thoroughly clean the tub

In order to get the best possible finish on your tub, you are going to want to start the refinishing process with a perfectly clean surface. Using bleach or another abrasive cleaner, clean your tub and surrounding area thoroughly, paying particular attention to any cracks, crevices, or joints where mold and mildew might reside. Rinse out your bathtub and dry it well with a towel.

Step 4: Roughen the tub surface

If you’re working with a tub refinishing kit (and we suggest you do for ease and brevity!), many come with etching powder, and now’s the time to break it out. This will make quick work of any glaze that still exists on your tub surface, allowing the new finish to adhere more easily. Apply etching powder according to package directions, which usually involves adding water and rubbing with an abrasive pad. Rinse the tub well when finished.

Step 5: Sand the Tub

To further prepare the surface for its new coating, you will need to roughen your tub again, this time using 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Be sure to follow this step carefully, as it will have a direct impact on the appearance of your finished product. If your chosen refinishing kit does not contain etching powder, you will need to spend even more time sanding your tub surface. When finished, rinse the tub again and dry it well with paper towels.

Step 6: Prime the Surface

Many tub refinishing kits come with a primer that must be applied to the surface before the epoxy. If this is the case with the kit you have chosen, you can apply the primer now using a foam roller and a foam brush. If your kit doesn’t include a primer, chances are it’s because the topcoat included is self-priming, so this step isn’t necessary.

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Step 7: Mix and Apply Epoxy Coating

Your tub refinishing kit will include two items that need to be combined at this stage: an epoxy resin and a hardener. Mix the two according to label instructions, while taking note of your kit’s “working time” or “open time” (i.e. how long you have until the epoxy hardens). Working quickly, apply the coating to the tub surface, completing the entire tub in one sitting. Apply a second coat according to package directions, then allow the tub to dry and harden for at least two to three days.

Step 8: Caulk and Reinstall Hardware

The time has come for the finishing touches, which will bring your DIY bathtub refinishing project to a very satisfying conclusion. Start by sealing the bathtub joints (where they intersect with the walls, floor or tiles) with silicone sealant and let it cure overnight. Reinstall your gear (or pop out for some shiny new stuff!) and you’re ready for the hottest, well-deserved bath. already.

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