DIY: Refinish a Bathtub

Refinishing a porcelain bathtub isn't like repainting a wall or re-staining a floor. Porcelain has to be treated with etching chemicals to remove the shine from it before you can attempt to re-top it, or the new paint won't stick. Then you have to use specialized primer and paint, applied in very thin, even layers with a pneumatic paint sprayer for that glassy, smooth finished look. This is an advanced refinishing project (not for the novice), and should be undertaken in consultation with your local home-improvement or refinishing expert.

  • Plastic tarps
  • Duct tape
  • Respirator mask with goggles, thick rubber gloves and protective clothing
  • Hydrofluoric acid solution for etching porcelain
  • Paint brush
  • Pneumatic paint sprayer
  • Porcelain primer
  • Paint-polyurethane enamel for porcelain
Remove all fixtures from the tub. Seal off the walls and floor around it with plastic tarps and duct tape.

Put on your respirator, gloves and protective clothing. Brush hydrofluoric acid over the whole porcelain surface, using a paint brush. Let it etch the porcelain for about 15 minutes, then rinse well. The porcelain should be dull and free of any shine. Let it dry completely.

Spray on porcelain primer, using your pneumatic paint sprayer. Spray it in a very light, even coat, covering the porcelain surface completely. Let it dry for an hour, then spray a second coat. Let it dry for another hour and spray a third coat.

Re-load your paint sprayer with paint-polyurethane enamel for porcelain. Spray it on the in same manner as you did the primer, in a very light, even, thin coat. Let it dry for an hour.

Re-coat the tub with paint-polyurethane enamel four to six times, until the desired gloss finish is reached. Let the paint cure for two to four days before using the tub.

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