How to Refinish a Bathtub

Written by Fred Hae of All About Kitchen and Bath
Updated June 20, 2015
refinished bathtub in remodeled bathroom
This refinished bathtub shines in the bathroom after a full remodel with new tile and paint. (Photo courtesy of Angi member Lixin L. of Eden Prairie, Minnesota)

What if your bathtub could be transformed in one day from embarrassing to your bathroom's sparkling centerpiece?

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Maybe your tub is looking lackluster, yet you don’t want to tackle a major bathroom renovation. Bathtub refinishing can be an alternative to replacing your tub. From start to finish, the process can be done in a day.

 If you’re thinking about having your bathtub resurfaced, this guide will walk you through what you can expect.

RELATED: Should You Refinish or Replace Your Bathtub?

1. Preparation for refinishing

Your existing bathtub will be professionally cleaned  with specialized industrial cleaners. Some of these products will actually break down the original surface in preparation for a brand-new finish.

All dirt, soap scum, detergents, dyes and other contaminants will be removed. The existing plumbing fixtures and drain will be specially prepared for the process.

Surrounding tile walls will be prepared if they are to be refinished. The original caulk line on the bathtub, which is often mildewed, will be removed. Any pits, chips or other damage to the original bathtub surface will be repaired using specialty products designed for these surfaces.

Your bathroom will be masked off, which protects surfaces not meant to be refinished. Masking off your bathroom also minimizes dust, to ensure a pristine refinished surface. Air registers and dampers in the bathroom will be shut off and masked. Special lighting and ventilation equipment will be set up. A nonslip tub surface may be installed at this time, if ordered by the customer.

claw-foot bathtub in process of refinishing
This 100-year-old claw foot bathtub undergoes refinishing. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Jared F. of Hampton, Virginia)

2. Application

Your new bathtub surface will be applied in three phases:

• Surface prep phase

• Bonding/priming phase

• Topcoat phase

All of these phases may require several application steps. Much of this work takes place in a sealed room, performed by trained personnel wearing protective equipment.

You should NEVER enter a room where a refinishing process is taking place, unless escorted by a tub refinishing professional. Many of the products used are applied by special spray equipment, to ensure a beautiful, durable high-gloss finish.

RELATED: Angi Guide to Bathroom Remodeling

3. Finishing touches to bathtub

The bathtub refinishing professional near you will remove the equipment and check the surface. Cure times for the products may vary depending on the type of system used. Your bathtub refinishing professional will discuss this with you ahead of time.

A nonslip bath mat may be installed at this time. Bathroom surfaces will be unmasked and a new bathtub caulk seam may be installed. The plumbing and drain will be made ready for use.

Once the refinishing process has been completed, your bathtub will look as shiny and beautiful as the day it was first installed.

Are you thinking about refinishing your bathtub? Share your thoughts and concerns in the comments section!

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally published on Dec. 11, 2014. This article first appeared on All About Kitchen and Bath’s website.

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Fred Hae has been in the sink, tub and shower repair business for more than 18 years. All About Kitchen and Bath provides bathtub refinishing and bathroom and kitchen remodeling services in Phoenix, Arizona.

As of June 19, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angi. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angi for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angi.

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