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topic 22525

Tub repainting


A discussion started in 2003 & continuing through 2017 . . .

(2003)

Q. How do you paint a bathtub that is not fiberglass or plastic? We have a home that we are remodeling to sell and the bathtubs are avocado green and bright yellow.

BARRY DAVIS
- SUMMERVILLE, South Carolina, UNITED STATES


(2003)

A. This is not just a matter of simply painting, Barry. Steel/cast iron tubs aren't painted, they are porcelained (a molten frit is sprayed on at thousands of degrees; it's much more like coating with melted glass than paint). I think you might need to hire a bathtub restoration service, not try to do this yourself. They specialize in the many steps necessary to do this reasonably well. Then you would have confidence that the refinishing was a somewhat durable change, not a peeling paint job that will come off in a month. If you attempt to do this yourself to sell the house, you won't know how unsuccessful you were until the angry buyer takes you to court :-(

If you intended to stay a while, then you might try yourself after doing the necessary prep work. Good luck.

Good luck.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Rust-Oleum Tub and Tile Refinishing Kit

(2004)

Q. I am looking for instructions to make the proper paint application, after making the proper preparations and obtaining the proper paint. Can you help me please ?

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Rae Hudson
- Mesa, Arizona, USA


A. Hi Rae. Maybe try a kit offered for the purpose and follow its directions rather than trying to adapt other paints -- accepting that paint will never be porcelain. Good luck.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



To minimize searching and offer multiple viewpoints, we combined multiple threads into the dialog you're viewing. Please forgive any resultant repetition.



(2004)

Q. I WANT TO REFINISH MY BATHTUB. WHAT IS THE BEST MATERIAL TO USE. I SEE VARIOUS MATERIALS CAN BE USED AND I AM LOOKING FOR ONE WITH THE BEST TRACK RECORD. DURABILITY, QUALITY, LONGEVITY ARE MOST IMPORTANT. THANK YOU.

JOHN H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
HOME OWNER - MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, USA


(2005)

A. Your best bet is to use an Aliphatic Acrylic Urethane and Spray it on. Sherwin Williams makes a POLANE, PPG makes a Pithaine, and Devoe ICI make a Devthane. They are the best. Whatever you do please do yourself a favor and Don't use an epoxy.

Gary G [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- San Antonio, Texas


(2005)

RFQ: I live in an apartment complex of 204 apartments. I am looking to find someone who does bathtub refinishing for my tub and possibly other tubs at our apartment complex.

Natalie Valente
Insurance - Norwood, Massachusetts
^- Sorry, this RFQ is outdated
     View Current RFQs




(2005)

Q. What kind of paint do you use for a non steel tub and what kind of prep work needs to be done before painting? I have an apartment right now and the paint is wearing away on the bottom of the tub. It is gray, but it is wearing away inside the shower. I would like to know how to re-paint it or maybe even just take the paint off. Will a regular paint stripper work in a tub?

Thank You

Nicole Russell
renter - Bayonne, New Jersey, USA


(2005)

A. Normal stripper may work, you are dealing with a different kind of paint here, and a different surface to coat. I think you would be best off letting the people you rent the apartment from replace the tub. But if you are (as I'm guessing) a diehard DIY freak then start sanding. Due to the fact that your tub could be in any number of polymer families I would stay away from any paint stripper, it could conceivably eat a hole in the bottom of your tub. Sand the outer layer of paint off, prime it, paint it. I'm betting that you can't take it outside to paint so I would suggest bringing in more ventilation, some paints give off noxious fumes that will hurt you if you breathe too much of them.

Marc Banks
- Elizabeth City, North Carolina


(2005)

Q. What is the process of refinishing a steel tub? Anything different? Paint is chipping/peeling. Should I sand first? Please advise. Also is there any safety concerns I should be worried about?

Thanks.

Barbara Eickleberry
- Munster, Indiana USA


(2005)

A. Barbara, the thing about old steel tubs is that the finish was not paint (paint is applied with a solvent that evaporates), it's porcelain enamel (which is more like a coating of molten glass). Porcelain enamel is thicker, harder, and far more durable than paint. No paint, no matter how high quality or how skillfully applied, is the equal of porcelain enamel. But porcelain enamel can only be applied in a factory at very high (molten glass) temperatures.

There are services ('bathtub refinishing') who, with their knowledge and good tools, will come in and do a pretty good job of painting it if that approach interests you. Or you can paint it yourself with an bathtub enamel [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. You may find sanding to be more difficult than you think because the porcelain is hard stuff; so thorough cleaning and very light sanding may be more practical.

But it sounds like what you are seeing is not the original porcelain; it sounds like someone already painted it and it's peeling. If you can get that paint off, either with turpentine or sandpaper, it would probably make for a better base.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


(2006) -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I need to paint a shower that has been painted a dark blue color. Is there a certain type of paint I need to use and can you give me some tips on how to go about this project.
Thanks, Belinda.

belinda medlin
- marion louisiana


(2006)

Q. Hi,

I recently bought a home and the tub is a sky blue and dislike it. What can I do to change the blue color to white (the tub is plastic) without the expense of replacing the entire tub.

Despina Pleitez
home owner - Bel Air, Maryland, USA


A. Hi Despina. In addition to the options of having professionals try to paint it, or painting it yourself per the earlier entires in this thread, it is also possible (and perhaps better) to have an 'insert' installed. This is a thin plastic skin custom measured to your tub.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



To minimize searching and offer multiple viewpoints, we combined multiple threads into the dialog you're viewing. Please forgive any resultant repetition.



HOW DO I REFINISH PORCELAIN SINKS

(2006)

Q. My name is Rebecca and I have a problem with a porcelain sink. It is an old farm-style unit. Metal cabinets with side boards. I love the unit, but I can't get the porcelain clean. It is stained and brown. If I can't find a way to re-do them, I am afraid I will have to get rid of the unit, which I really do not want to do.
Please help.

Thanks,

Rebecca J Totten
Homeowner - Columbia, South Carolina


A. Hi Rebecca. Try hydrogen peroxide on the stains, as described in letter 8229 before giving up.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


(2007)

Q. I'm not sure what my tub is made of. I tap it, it sounds like it's a metal tub; it was installed well over twenty years ago. I'd really like to paint it. Do you know if it is metal, and what kind of paint do I use to paint it.

Greg Brown
buyer - Lytton B.C. Canada


(2007)

A. Try a magnet, Greg. If it's magnetic, it's iron/steel. But it's unlikely that the coating is "paint", it's probably vitreous enamel, which is more like melted glass than paint. No paint will approach the performance of such porcelain enamel -- but clean the tub, sand it, and try a paint as described in earlier entries.

A better alternative is probably to call a bathtub refitter. Some use a plastic shell exactly matching the dimensions of your tub, and drop it in and over your existing tub. Obviously, this would cost a lot more than trying to re-paint your own tub though.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



Hazards of bathtub refinishing/resurfacing dust?

(2007)

Q. Hi,
Yesterday I had a bathtub resurfaced.
There is a thick coating of white dust everywhere (on computer, bedding, couch etc.)
I am wondering what it is, if it is dangerous to my electronics, lungs, bedding etc.
I also do not know how to clean it.
I live in an apartment and am awaiting a call back from the leasing office but I am sure they will not know what this stuff is or how to safely remove it from the various surfaces.
Can anyone out there help?
Thanks,
Donna

Donna Sanders
- Bellevue, Washington, USA


(2007)

A. No dust is good for you, Donna, but I don't know what satisfactory answer people can offer you if the leasing agent doesn't respond. It's not clear whether the dust is porcelain or fiberglass, but I'd bet on the fiberglass. Either way you're not going to pay tens of thousands of dollars to have people enclose the house in a bubble and come in in moonsuits and clean it up with specialty equipment and burn all your bedding as if it was anthrax. So it comes down to the fact that it has to be vacuumed up, and the only question is whether you want to do it, preferably while wearing a paint filter, and using a HEPA vacuum cleaner, or insist that the refinisher have their workers do it :-)

It's probably possible to wash hard surfaces rather than vacuum them, but that probably wouldn't make much difference regarding your exposure.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



September 21, 2011

Q. My bathtub has some rust at the bottom of it just before where the drain is located. I want to spray paint it. Can I just do that or do I have to sand the area first? Also, from putting shampoo bottles and things like that on the corners of the tub, the shiny finish has worn away for some reason. Can I just spray paint a clear coat of something to bring the finish back? I want to do as little work as possible. Thank you.

Cheryll Chiasson
amateur - Belle Chasse, Louisiana


September 22, 2011

A. Hi, Cheryll.

Many people have reported easy removal of rust stains on bathtubs with hydrogen peroxide [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. I am confident that it's the best thing to try. See letter 8229.

Bath tubs are not painted, they are porcelained (a glass-like powdered frit is melted onto them at a temperature of thousands of degrees). Paint is not likely to stick well, or wear well, but you could try Everbrite [a finishing.com supporting advertiser] clear coat for the dulled shelf areas. This is often used on aluminum siding to restore luster. It works by adding some smoothness to the surface so the reflected light comes back shinier rather than being scattered and diffused. Good luck.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


How much ABF and HF for bathtub etching?

Calcium Gluconate
for HF acid burns

May 8, 2017

Q. I am making an etching solution for etching porcelain bathtubs before refinishing them. I am adding a 49% Hydrofluoric acid mix at a 1:5 ratio, so 9.8 percent HF content. I need to know how much ammonium bifluoride to add. The tubs etch much better with a mix of HF and ABF but I'm not sure how to calculate the ABF.

I'm mixing 5 gallons at a time. How do I convert and calculate the ABF? Let's use 1 gallon of water as the example.

Matt W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
bathtub refinisher - Oregon USA


May 10, 2017

A. IMHO: (1) A trained chemist should be able to answer this question rapidly.
(2) Only a trained chemist should be working with highly concentrated hydrofluoric acid. It is dangerous stuff.

Spill some on your skin and the proper treatment is subcutaneous injection of sodium gluconate so that you lose only the tissue and not the bone. I hope if anyone wants to use this stuff they are completely prepared for an adverse outcome.

tom_rochester
Tom Rochester
Plating Systems & Technologies, Inc.  
supporting advertiser
Jackson, Michigan, USA
plating systems & technologies banner ad


May 2017

A. Thanks Tom. I was hoping someone else would say it because I've said it so many times :-)

It MIGHT be okay for professional tub refitters to use this mix if they've been carefully trained in it and they have the right equipment, and if there is no reasonable alternative ... but they should not be trying to formulate it :-(

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"


simultaneous May 10, 2017

A. That is very scary dangerous stuff.

Wear your PPE. It'll burn holes in you that are very slow to heal.

Maybe just the ABF will do? Much kinder than HF.

dave wichern
Dave Wichern
Consultant - The Bronx, New York


May 10, 2017

Q. Hi, thanks for the concern.

Is it possible to get an answer to my question?

Matt W [returning]
bathtub refinisher - Oregon USA


Glass etching cream

May 2017

A. Hi. Although HF and ABF do much the same thing, the ammonia in ABF is a "buffer" which slows the reaction. The semiconductor industry reportedly uses a range of ratios depending on how aggressive they wish the etching to be. It's very hard for people without experience specifically in porcelain bathtubs to suggest how fast etching you would prefer, or how much is too much, and therefore how much ammonia you should add to slow it down.

You can try commercial products like Armour Etch, XIM Etch-I-M, Etchall Etching Cream, & several others, and see which is closest to what you want, and download their MSDS sheets giving their composition. It's probably a faster way to optimize than experimenting. Safe travels.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"


May 11, 2017

A. Hi Matt

Ammonium bifluoride is used as a SLIGHTLY less hazardous substitute for hydrofluoric acid. I have never seen an application where they are mixed.

The warnings on this thread are SERIOUS. You need PPE and training. There should be a tube of calcium gluconate gel in your pocket at all times - there is not time to go looking for it.

You should seriously consider what happens WHEN NOT IF it goes wrong.

The fact that you have asked this question strongly indicates that you should not be using these chemicals.

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire,
      England



simultaneous May 11, 2017

A. In the 1970's and perhaps thereafter an ammonium bifluoride/hydrofluoric acid mixture was used to frost glass used in television sets and other similar applications.

tom_rochester
Tom Rochester
Plating Systems & Technologies, Inc.  
Jackson, Michigan, USA



May 11, 2017

thumbs up sign  Thanks for the info on the ABF slowing the reaction. I did not know that.

I made a couple of phone calls yesterday and was able to express my needs more clearly. I'm not the best writer.

I was looking for a way to calculate the ABF solution. Not how much ABF to add. Due to its solid form I was having problems coming up with a way to get an accurate weight % in liquid form.

Lacking the basic chemistry vocabulary prevented me from doing the right Google searches.

I now know that a liquid gallon of water weighs 8.3x lbs. So, converting a solid to liquid is simple now.

For those who are curious the solution I am making is 5 gallons with

10% HF
20% ABF
20% Phosphoric

I'm happy to answer any refinishing bathtub refinishing questions that come along in the future.

Matt W [returning]
bathtub refinisher - Oregon USA



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