Bathroom Makeover Day 11: How To Paint A Bathtub

How To Paint A BAthtub

I did it! I painted my bathtub! The process wasn’t fun, but it also wasn’t too terribly difficult, and I’m quite pleased with the result. I used a bathtub paint from Rust-Oleum called Tub & Tile Refinishing Kit*.

Bathtub paint from Rustoleum called Tub & Tile Refinishing Kit

It’s a two-part epoxy paint that you mix together in the one-quart container (no additional container needed…just use the Part B container). You can use it on porcelain, ceramic, and fiberglass.

I treated the tub just like I was painting a wall. In other words, I used my 2″ Purdy sash brush* to do the “cutting in” on areas that I knew couldn’t be reached with a roller, and then I painted all of the big areas with a 6.5″ roller.

Paint a bathtub with a 6.25" roller for smooth surfaces

As you can see, I didn’t use a foam roller.  (I’m not a fan of foam rollers at all.)   Instead, I used a regular roller with a 3/8″ nap for smooth to semi-smooth surfaces.

Use a woven roller to paint a bathtub with Rustoleum bathtub paint

It gave the paint a really nice subtle texture, which you can see here…

Use a roller with bathtub paint for a subtle texture

I used a bright white paint, and as soon as I started on the first coat, I could tell a huge difference between the original bathtub color and the color of the bathtub paint.

Bright white bathtub paint

The overall working time was about 4 1/5 hours, but the overall time from start to finish (including drying time after the prep work, and drying time between coats of paint) was around 8 hours.

The prep work took about 1.25 hours, and was a multi-step process that included:

  • Washing the tub with a water and bleach solution to remove any mildew,
  • Scrubbing the entire tub with Comet,
  • Scrubbing the tub with Lime Away* and a scouring pad, and
  • Sanding the tub with 400/600 grit wet/dry sandpaper*.

After all of that, I brought a fan into the room to dry the tub completely.  I let it dry for about an hour and a half while I had dinner, and then it was ready to paint.  I wiped it down really well with a dry cloth before painting, and then did the “cutting in” with a brush, and followed up with the roller on the large areas.

How to paint a bathtub with Rustoleum bathtub paint

The one thing that I absolutely must warn you about is the smell.

Oh my gosh…the smell!!!

It’s so bad.  I mean, really, really badDo not even consider taking on this project without using one of these painters masks*…

Use a painters breathing mask to paint a bathtub

But even though I was wearing this mask the entire time, and I couldn’t actually smell the fumes, they were still so strong that they burned my eyes and made my eyes water.

After the first coat of bathtub paint was applied, I let it dry for about 1.5 hours before applying the second coat.  At that point, the first coat was completely dry, and the paint was very durable…so much so that I stood in the tub with my bare feet to reach some areas of the tub while applying the second coat, and it didn’t mess up the paint at all.  In fact, I even sat on the edge of the tub at one point, and even scooted my bum across the edge of the tub, and the paint was perfectly fine.  So I have no doubt that after the required 3-day drying/curing time, the paint will be incredibly durable.

So that’s it!  That’s my experience with painting a bathtub!  If I’ve left out any info that you want, or if you have any questions, just let me know and I’ll do my best to answer!

Edit: I had quite a few questions about the process, the product, etc., so instead of trying to answer them all individually, I decided to write a follow up post to answer all of the questions.

Here’s a little video I made of my bathtub painting adventure…

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Comments

  1. Kim W. says

    That looks incredible — I would have never thought that could be a DIY project. Can’t wait to see the completed room. It is turning out so nice… just like the rest of your place :)

  2. says

    We want to do this in our bathroom, so I’m TOTALLY excited that you did this. We’re looking to do it during spring break when my stepson is with his mom, so we can use his bathroom while we do the master…

  3. says

    This is really good to know! I’ve been looking forward to this post since you mentioned it at the beginning of your plan for the bathroom. I didn’t know you could paint a bathtub like this until a couple of months ago, so thanks for showing us how! Was it recommend to do all those prep steps, or did you just do all that for good measure and caution? And it looks SO much better, the nice crisp white against the dark teal, just beautiful, I LOVE contrast like this!!

  4. Christine L. says

    From someone who knows from experience, please be careful in your newly painted tub! The paint seems to make it more slippery. It looks wonderful! :)

  5. Monica says

    I really need to do this to our tub. The previous owners painted the mauve tub a light yellow with latex paint, complete with paint runs down the outside!!. We can’t use it and it flakes off like crazy. I need to somehow sand it down and refinish it. How long did the fumes hang around?

  6. Martha says

    Kristi!
    I’m sitting here with my mouth hanging open! What a transformation! I have a similar situation in a hall bathroom where the acrylic insert isn’t cream and it isn’t white….and this is exactly what it needs! I am always amazed at what you accomplish!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Martha

  7. Carolanne says

    Did you have any chips in the tub at all? The tub AND shower stall in our house had chips that the previous owners tried to cover up somehow (looks like nail polish to me!). I’d love to do this to both bathrooms, but I’m not sure how the chips would come through.

    • says

      Hi You need to use steel wool to sand down the chips, you can not do this to your tub if you have chips. Although she made it look easy this is not a simple project. If you attempt it do it, do it when it’s warmer outside so you can open your windows. It smells horrible for hours. Pam

  8. Kelly says

    Just make sure the filter is an R type (and replace after every 8 hours of exposure to oil based fumes) or a P type (and replace after every 40 hours of exposure to oil based fumes). An N type filter will not do anything to remove oil fumes.

    And when Ellen says “we” she means me!! haha. I am glad that you shared as I was under the impression that you had to wait days between coats. Of course, when we do this, the rest of the bathroom is going to look even more horrible…

  9. Diane Mansil says

    That looks fabulous! Now I’m extra excited to tackle the ugly pinky-peach tub in the house I’m buying on Friday! I had planned to tear it out and put in a shower before moving in but I’m going to wait a bit (buying a house is expensive and my cash pile is getting thin)…this is a great alternative for now!

    I may just steal your entire bathroom look so…just giving you a warning that there’s a copycat on here! LOL

    Gorgeous work!

  10. says

    I too have been waiting for this post. We have an enameled cast iron tub that I think someone tried to paint in the past and didn’t do such a great job (there are drips). I’ve been eyeing the Rustoleum kit for awhile as a possible temporary solution as we don’t have the cash to rip the tub out (and have to redo the flooring and all the tile work for the whole room) nor to have it professionally sprayed.

    Couple of thoughts/questions if you do a follow-up post after the curing:
    - You said there’s a 3-day cure. I assume you can’t use the tub during that time at all?
    - The fumes…I’d love to know how long they linger. Our bathroom has no window, so we’d have to basically rely on the vent fan or rig something more complex up.
    - You liked the texture from the roller. What if you wanted it as smooth as possible? Do the instructions suggest the best type of roller or brush to do that?
    - Do the instructions suggest what you can do to fill chips in the original enamel before painting? We have a pitted area in the bottom of the tub where either the original enamel or the first paint job chipped off. I know the pro’s use Bondo (like for auto body work), but that seems extereme for a DIY job.
    - How long do you have to work with the paint once the two parts are mixed? Clearly, enough time to do two coats.

    • says

      There are other types of paints that dry faster and self level not leaving marks from the roller (smooth) in 24 hours so you can use the bathtub sooner like in a day – check out the link I provided refinishingonline.com

  11. says

    This is amazing!!! There is nothing you cannot DIY! You just saved yourself so much money hiring one of those bathtub resurfacing companies to do this. So glad you put the warning out there about the fumes. So many people do not protect their lungs with working with paint chemicals. Looks great!

  12. Cim Allen says

    How about coming and doing mine know :) lol I so want to paint my 50′s peach tub and mint green tile .. I just haven’t found the courage yet. On tile what kind of bruch would you use or could you roll that too ?? Love you blog .. the bathroom looks fabulous !!

  13. says

    I have been waiting on this post too. I cannot wait to show my husband. The bottom of our shower and tile needs to be done and I am not wanting to replace before we list our house… This is the answer!! Thank you!!

  14. says

    A few years ago I wanted to paint our bathroom tiles so badly. They were a hideous shade of pink, peach AND mint. Before we painted we decided to replace a few loose tiles first. When we popped the first tile out, we noticed mold behind it so we pulled a few more tiles off of the wall. That led to a complete bathroom reno! Ah well…. the life of a home owner.

    Love the super new white against the wall color! It’s looking great!

  15. says

    Holy Smack woman!!!!!!!!!! This is amazing!!

    Ok, so would this work on a faux marble bathroom vanity? I have a pink cultured marble bathroom countertop that is itching for a coat of this stuff if it would stick!

      • says

        I got here from Pinterest because I’m in the middle of a bathroom remodel. Painting my contractor grade tub insert? I’m so in! (At least, I’m in when summer comes around.)

        However, I’m leaving a comment because I have used a great product to recover my countertops. Rustoleum has a great bathtub kit but their countertop kit is, well, awful. Instead I used the countertop recovering kit from Daich Coatings. I did my kitchen two summers ago and I’m still thrilled with it. It was easy, fume free, and one of the more hassle free projects I’ve completed. I bought a second kit only last week to do my bathroom counters and will complete those this morning. Check it out…it’s an inexpensive solution to awful laminate.

        http://www.daichcoatings.com/spreadstone_countertop_kit.html

        • says

          My mom actually sent me a link to that website about a month ago! That product looks quite amazing. I haven’t tried it yet, but I definitely have some laminate countertops that could use some attention.

  16. says

    Kristi, I think this may be the first time that I’ve ever done a double take online! I think I literally said “oh that’s cool…Wait, do what!?!” I didn’t even know that Rust-Oleum made this! Very cool and what a great transformation! Your hard work really paid off!

    • Gwen Blackman says

      I’m in total agreement with Matt@theDIYvillage. I knew Rust-Oleum made the cabinet and counter transformations kits (used the cabinet one),but one for the tub? WOW! I could have saved a couple hundred when I had the claw foot tub refinished a few years ago. Absolutely a great job!

  17. says

    Wow, what an amazing difference. I have those same fiberglass tub surrounds – easier to keep clean than tile/grout, but so ugly. One question on the paint – once it’s mixed, I’m assuming it doesn’t keep very long? Like if you did one tub, and then a month (or 6 or 10) later wanted to tackle the other?

    Really glad to have found your blog (I think I got here through a Pinterest link to some “best of” round-up on another blog, and then here). I’m in a 950 sq. foot condo so have been looking for a blog I could relate to more – you’ve really done a great job customizing and upgrading your space, incorporating storage, etc. Can’t wait to see more.

  18. Sandy says

    This looks amazing!! I had no idea it was possible to paint a bathtub/shower! I definitely need to do this to ours. We were considering replacing it, but the huge cost factor stopped us pretty quickly. If you don’t mind me asking, how much did this project cost?

  19. says

    Kristi, That is amazing! Do you think it would work on my fake marble sinks/counter tops? How are you supposed to clean it? I may have to go buy this!

    • Norma from Norma's Kentiques says

      Fascinating story. I’ve been wondering about doing something like this for our tub also. It’s from the 40′s, cast iron I guess. But it’s become so porous and cannot get it clean anymore.

      Your tub and surround looks fabulous! Does it say what products to use or NOT use for cleaning the tub now? Can foam cleaners be used?

  20. says

    I’m so glad you reviewed this product!! I’ve been wanting to try it on my ‘almond’ fiberglass tub (another 80′s remnant, sigh) that, while in perfect working order, doesn’t match the white vanity cabinets they installed to update the bathroom. Asking them to replace a perfectly functioning garden tub with jets would be insane, but asking to repaint an almond tub white to match is almost a guaranteed yes. It’s great to see that it works well!

  21. Sue says

    You did a great job! That bright white is perfect with the walls/teal paint. You made this process look easy. Maybe I should give it a try.

  22. says

    I never knew you could do this to a tub and stall. After you mentioned how bad the fumes were, I decided not to try it. I’m allergic to a lot of things and I am afraid the smell and the fumes would get the best f me. I admire your ambition. You are truly and inspiration to DIY.

  23. says

    You answered my big burning question…does it smell. I’m now wondering how much a mask like that costs and do you use it for other projects and does it get in the way of your being able to see what you are doing? Also wondering about the 3/8 nap. Isn’t there a smoother nap roller that would have left a less textured surface, aside from foam, and how did you make your choice?
    The bathroom is looking fabulous. I can only imagine how excited you are.
    BTW….love seeing your cute face showing up on other blogs. Will you be sharing about your little Rust-oleum adventure? Glad you were able to get away, too!

  24. says

    Hi Kristi,

    I’m glad you told others about the dangers of the paint fums because I’ve literally got sick to my stomach when I used a similar product and felt sick the rest of the day. Seeing that your using bleach first and then another product this all adds to what you could be smelling. I had trouble with it settling at the bottom did this at all happen to you? I would like to try it again but worried I’ll run into the same problem. Pam

  25. Del Marie says

    I have this exact kit sitting up on a shelf in my laundry room. I bought it, bondo, sandpaper, etc about a year and a half ago. All excited to dive in, then I read the directions. I wasn’t that brave after all. You didn’t mention it, but how did the bondo-ing part go? Or did you even have to use it?

  26. Robin Rakes says

    I’m sick. Just this week we contracted to have our old blue tub replaced, as the salesperson told us we couldnt paint fiberglass. I did know about this product, & honestly hubby nor I could have done all the prep needed. :( Oh well…
    So glad it worked. I hope it holds up for a LONG time.

  27. Leanne says

    I love your blog–and share your sense of style. I also just bought those exact “shasta” vinyl tiles for my bathroom remodel (which exists in my head, but not yet in reality.) I like them because they are speckled like a bird’s egg and they have a hint of turquoise….they are also warmer and I think prettier than the ceramic ones.

    Thanks for this post–I was wondering how I could get my old off-white tub to match my bright white new tub surround.

  28. carlo morelli says

    I read the article and then I watched the video, and I have to say, I was excited to get started with this project until I got to the part regarding the fumes and the mask. I have tried painting with a mask before, and I have an aversion to chemical fumes, so that being said, I will not be trying this system for refinishing my bathtub/shower. Thanks anyway.

  29. says

    It looks awesome and difficult to believe that its DIY project. How much does the materials cost and is it possible to do a DIY shower fitting job we haven’t got one always have to draw a bath which takes up a lot of time.

    • Ruth says

      We had contractor put a shower head added to our tub. They have to be able to get to plumbing & go up the wall to fit the shower head. We also have a window that I had to craft a mini shower curtain to cover it while showering. They were able to cut the surround to fit around the window. Love it.

  30. Cheryl Johnson says

    You did such an awesome job on this tub and surround but my question is…I live in a manufactured home (mobile home) and the tub is not your standard steel tub. I believe its more like the same material as the tub surrounds….will this kit work with my tub? I don’t want to have to but new tub and surround for my trailer that is 14 yrs old when I’m on a low income. I have bookmarked your site. I just love the mirror you did with the plastic spoons I am thinking of making one but in a different color and smaller for one of my bath rooms…so cool! Hope to hear from you soon……Thanks.

  31. Julie says

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’m completely inspired, and I’ve just ordered the kit from Amazon. Rustoleum should pay you commission!

  32. MISSY says

    Can you please give a follow up on this? Did the tub peel at all? I’ve seen several reviews that these tub kits peel after a while…

  33. says

    Very useful information. I just leased a 1905 Victorian house to use as my interior design studio and there are two bathrooms that need major help. One is an original claw foot tub (excited about this one) the other is a sunflower yellow tub that was added in the 50′s. This will definitely save me loads of cash. Thank you!

  34. Cheryl Kellogg says

    I purchased my kit online at Amazon. Did the prep work required, fille d one badly eroded area and then applied the first coat. The fumes from the epoxy paint are really intense and dangerous. I have a large whole house fan that helped to pull fresh air into the house. I left the area every 5 minutes for fresh air for a 5 minute period as instructed. A respirator would have been better. I decided not to do the second coat the same day because I felt sick from the fumes. The paint stays workable for up to 6 hours, so instructions say. I only mixed half a batch and plan to wait a few days before doing the second coat. I plan to lightly sand before the second coat, recommended on another blog. Even first coat is a wonderful improvement. Most important, have plenty of ventilation. Smell leaves once epoxy hardens for a day or so. Great for those on a limited budget and don’t want a big expensive redo. Your video was helpful in making my decision to proceed.

  35. glenda says

    what if I have a tub with tile around it? It is probably the original tub from the 50′s. I don’t have a vent in the bathroom and I get mildew from the steam. Can I do this and make it look new again, what about the tile? I don’t really have money to redo my bathroom, but its hideous……. the tile is the subway tile and it wraps around the entire bottom half of the bathroom, and over the top half of the shower. I am pretty artsy, and I think I could paint it and come up with a nice hand painted design on tiles, similar to a stencil. What do you think, should I just get a remodel done? or is there a paint for those small square subway tiles???? Also what about the caulking aspect that is normally around the top of tub where it meets the tiles? would I paint over it?

  36. SHANNON RAY says

    I was wondering how the tub is holding up now? Does the paint seem to be lasting? I bought the paint and am going to tackle it this weekend. It will be better than the yellow I have now and cheaper than buying a new surround tub.

    • says

      Shannon, we actually moved out of this condo last October. But from the time I painted it in February until we moved out in October, it was holding up perfectly. It still is, but of course, it’s never used now. :)

  37. Shannon says

    Oh my goodness!!!!!! You just saved me a ton of money! One of our tubs is a complete surround and the other has the same problem, a white tub and off white cheap surround. We are looking to update on a minimal budget and thanks to you I just ordered all that I needed for both tubs! I cannot wait to see the results! Thank you so much!!!!!!!

  38. Sally says

    Hi,
    Question: how safe is it, in terms of chemical release from the paint afterwards, to bathe a child in this tub?
    Just curious, i understand this is actually a paint, but still, how much danger does it pose?
    Thank you

  39. Yvette Gerace says

    I cannot believe I found probably the only other person in the entire world with the exact same tub enclosure that I have! I absolutely hate mine too but I can’t afford a bathroom redo. Mine was never white to begin with; it’s beige and being the largest surface in my bathroom makes it hard to match things. I want white! Anyway I never thought I could paint the material it’s made out of but if you can, I CAN! From your video (s), (I’m a huge fan of yours) It appears we have the exact same bathroom too. I finally ripped off the foil wallpaper after 20 years and can’t wait to paint the walls. I have a skylight in my bathroom and personally love darkish colors. You’ve more than inspired me so I’m off the get the supplies I need and the painters mask!

  40. SHANNON says

    You inspired me to do my own tub and I’m VERY happy with the results! Looks like a brand new tub!

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