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What are the Best Tips for Refinishing a Bathtub?

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  • Written By: Angela Crout-Mitchell
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2016
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It is not unusual for homeowners undertaking a bathroom remodel to choose to refinish the bathtub instead of buying a new unit. There are a few necessary steps for refinishing a bathtub correctly, including preparing the tub, sanding the finish, and applying the appropriate paint. Most home improvement experts recommend only resurfacing porcelain tubs, as those made from plastic or composite materials are not as suitable for the procedure. It is important that the homeowner takes the time to carefully select the bathtub paint color and finish to fit in with the rest of the bathroom decor. More detailed information about the refinishing process and products can be found online or from the knowledgeable staff of a plumbing or home improvement store.

Before refinishing a bathtub, the surface of the unit has to be properly prepared. In order for the new finish to adhere correctly, the surface of the tub has be carefully cleaned. Any non-slip applications will have to be removed with a heavy duty cleaner and a degreasing agent. It is also suggested that the entire bathtub be cleaned with an abrasive cleaner and pad to ensure no dirt, soap scum, or other debris is left on the surface of the tub. For especially soiled or old bathtubs, these process may have to be repeated two to three times.

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Once the bathtub is clean and dry, it must be prepared for the paint application. Refinishing a bathtub at this stage requires sanding the bathtub surface with 400 to 600 grit wet sandpaper. This process ensures all of the dirt, grease, and original finish has been completely removed. It also roughs up the surface of the tub, allowing the new paint finish to adhere properly to the bathtub. Most experts recommend using a wet sandpaper application so the particles lifted from the tub can be easily washed down the drain.

The final step of refinishing a bathtub is to apply new paint and finish to the surface of the unit. Paint products used for this task will likely require an epoxy glue to be mixed in for a good, solid adhesion. The paint mixture should be applied in smooth, thin, even coats with a clean paintbrush and roller. It is suggested to cover the bathtub completely with the paint in two applications one hour apart, and allow to fully dry. After refinishing a bathtub, caulk should be applied around the tub, in the corner of any shelves, and in the corners of the tile walls.

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