Bathtub refinishing

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Bathtub refinishing also known as bathtub resurfacing is the process of refreshing the surface of a worn or damaged bathtub to a like-new condition. This process starts by accessing the damages that the bathtub currently has and determining what repairs need to be made. Some things that help determine if the bathtub needs to be repaired is if it has chips and cracks, rust, corrosion or does not hold water anymore. If a bathtub has serious rust or corrosion than the bathtub most likely can not be repaired properly, and it should be replaced. If the bathtub is not holding water and has chips or cracks you can repair these issues using Bondo or another type of polyester putty.After bondo or polyester putty is used on the bathtub the surface is prepped with an acid etching. Etching and wet sanding provide mechanical adhesion and clean the surface. Porcelain, enamel, and fiberglass tubs are non-porous and do not provide a good substrate for the new coating to attach to. Etching the surface provides a porous surface that will allow proper adhesion. Another possible method is to apply an adhesion-promoting bonding agent like silane to the surface before applying the coating. The two methods can be used in unison or independently. The greatest adhesion is generally achieved by using both methods together however, some newer refinishing processes claim they do not require the use of etching, by relying on silane alone.

It is important to prepare the bathtub, and the surrounding area properly to ensure the products are not being left behind. The chemicals used in the refinishing process can be very harmful to people, so it is very important to work as safe as possible. Because of this most refinishers will protect themselves and their clients by completely masking the areas that can be affected by overspray prior to spraying any chemical coatings.They also set up a professional exhaust system rated to work with the type of coating system being applied. Then the refinisher will use a NIOSH-rated fresh-air supplied breathing apparatus to and spray suite and gloves to protect themselves from the chemicals being used in the process. After spraying is complete, the refinisher will pick up the equipment and remove the masking and garbage from the home. A new caulk line can be installed and the drain replaced.

By using at least a 1200-cfm exhaust unit, the refinisher can see better and may limit the overspray and settling on the surface, primer (if used), is then applied, followed by a topcoat. Generally, a catalyzed two-component cross-link synthetic white coating is applied, but the coating does not have the durability or abrasive tolerance of the original glass-enamel coating of a factory-new bathtub. Coatings used to create a new bathtub finish can be epoxies, urethanes, hybrid polyester-polyurethane, or polymers. These coatings may be rolled, brushed, or sprayed on. The coating should be in most cases between 5-8 mils in thickness when cured to provide the best, longterm results. This is typically achieved by spraying two coats of primer, and three coats of top-coat. A very experienced refinisher may be able to accomplish this with fewer coats depending on conditions.

Slipping resistance can be added to the bathtub coating to provide a slip-resistant area to the bottom of the tub during the refinishing process as well. In general, when professionally refinished using professional products, the surface will act as a new tub surface and be very slippery when wet. There are also semi-permanent mats available on the market that stick to the surface. They may be more difficult to clean and do not have the life expectancy of many coating systems. Rubber mats are almost always discouraged by the manufactures and they tend to void the warranty in various ways.

Although refinishing your bathtub may seem like a great idea, and much more affordable than buying a brand new bathtub it is not always an option. This is because bathtub refinishing is only a cosmetic fix, and it does not fix any of the underlying issues that the tub may have. With that being said it is important to check the bathtub thoroughly and search for how severe the cracks and wear are to determine whether the tub should be replaced or refinished.[1] If the cracks seem to be a web shaped crack and it only seems to be on the surface then this bathtub can be refinished and last many more years.[1] But if the bathtub has a structural crack then the bathtub can not be refinished, and it should be replaced to ensure no further damage occurs there.[1] One other thing to check is to see if there is rust anywhere on the bathtub. If there is rust on the bathtub then that part of the tub should be removed, and treated as nessary. The issue with rust is that it will spread throughout the whole tub until it covers the whole thing. If the tub has rust you can refinish it for a temporary fix, but somewhere in the near future the tub will need to be replaced still.[1] It is important to access the bathtub before making any changes or fixes since each infraction has its own solution and making the best decision for the tub you're dealing with could save a person lots of time and money.[1]

The cost of refinishing a bathtub averages to cost $480, which is much cheaper than buying a brand new bathtub.[2] The cost varies depending on the material the bathtub is made out of, and how severe the damage is on the tub.[2] There is one thing that could help make the price lower, and that is for the tub owner to take on the job themselves. There are many DIY kits that you can buy that have all of the necessary equipment in them to refinish your own bathtub yourself. Typically reglazing kits cost about $100, which is much more affordable that hiring a company to do it for you.[2] Repairing your tub yourself will allow you to have more control on how and what is done in the process as well as save you money. [3] Even though there are many benefits to using a DIY kit there are some downfalls such as, having a smaller amount of color choses that will match your tub, and the amount of time that you will have to spend working on the bathtub as well as risking the chance that you might not do it right.[3] It ultimately comes down to the tub-owners decision on how much time and money they want to spend working on their bathtub.


Findings from the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program have identified at least 14 worker deaths since 2000 related to the usage of methylene chloride for bathtub refinishing. Products containing high percentages of methylene chloride are used as stripping agents in the process, to remove the old coating on the bathtubs. In an unventilated setting, overexposure to methylene chloride vapors can affect brain function and result in death in the short term, with possible carcinogenic effects in the long term.[4] Once a person can smell the methylene chloride they have already been overexposed to the chemicals.[4]

Measures to prevent overexposure to methylene chloride include the use of stripping agents relying on other chemicals instead, the implementation of adequate local exhaust ventilation, and the provision of appropriate personal protective equipment (i.e. respirators). The local exhaust ventilation is necessary, and this is because opening nearby windows and using bathroom fans will not provide enough ventilation. Using long-handled tools can also decrease workers' proximity from the product, with beneficial effects.[4]

Professional refinishers will often provide the end-user with after-care instructions and warranty or guaranty information. Pay attention to the cleaning and care recommendations to avoid warranty issues. Cleaning in most cases can be best accomplished using a mild dish-soap degreaser like Dawn (Be sure to avoid cleaners with acids or other chemicals the manufacture recommends avoiding). Plugging the tub to hold some water to cover the bottom, mix some cleaner in and agitate, then rub the surface with the sponge. For best results or to clean especially dirty tubs, let the cleaner sit on the surface for up to 20-minutes. This allows the cleaner to break down the dirt and oils to be more easily removed. Waxing the surface around the drain, and in other areas that are not stood or sat on can also assist in keeping the surface like new and improve coating life. Special to note in the cleaning is the caulk line. Take care not to rub on the caulk to the point that it becomes no longer adhered to the tub or wall surface. This will allow water to become trapped and cause peeling. Damaged caulk should always be replaced immediately.

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  1. ^ a b c d e "Bathtub Refinishing - When To NOT Refinish A Bath Tub | Specialized Refinishing Co". 2018-09-22. Retrieved 2023-04-11.
  2. ^ a b c Perry, Christin (2023-03-31). "How Much Does Bathtub Refinishing And Reglazing Cost In 2023?". Forbes Home. Retrieved 2023-04-11.
  3. ^ a b "DIY Refinishing a Bathtub vs. Professional Finishing". The Spruce. Retrieved 2023-05-01.
  4. ^ a b c Hall, Ronald M. (4 February 2013). "Dangers of Bathtub Refinishing". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved 21 January 2015.

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