The complete guide to restoring and changing the color of a plastic bathtub. The process of changing the color of a plastic bathtub is relatively simple. You can either buy a new tub or restore the old one. The latter option is cheaper and we will focus on it in this article.
Bathtubs can start looking dingy and ugly over time, especially white ones. Any bathtub will go through the process of color changes over a few years of use. Whether is a porcelain bathtub or fiberglass bathtubs the signs of wear and tear will start to be visible within a few years, depending on how good you take care of your asset.
The easiest option is a bathtub replacement. While this might be a good choice if you have the necessary budget, this can be expensive, disruptive, or time-consuming. Besides, not everyone can afford to buy a new hot tub. Luckily there are many options for changing the outdated color of an old bathtub and we’ll share these methods further in this post.
A DIY bathtub refinish surface will take a total of about 4-6 hours and about 1-2 days of drying time. Again, if you are ready to pay more, you can purchase a bathtub liner. Bathtub liners are a molded piece of plastic that matches the present tub’s surface and provides you with a brand new bathtub.
Painting your tub in one hour or less is a great way to save money and time. The average cost of a professional painting job for a tub is about $400. Painting your own bathtub is not only cheaper than hiring a professional, but it also gives you the opportunity to experiment with different colors, and finishes and save money too.
Before you try to restore the color of your plastic bathtub, remember that there is no miracle method and the outcome is totally depending on your DIY skills. If you’re not up for this challenge, you can hire a plumber to do the job and all you have to do is to enjoy the new look of your plastic tub.
Methods for restoring the original beauty of the tub
Try bleach first
There are a few methods to restore your fiberglass tub’s color to its original beauty. The first method is to use a bleach and water mixture. This method will help remove the body oils and mineral deposits from the old tubs effortlessly.
For precautions, this process should be done with open windows because bleach is emitting toxic fumes into the air. If there are no windows in your bathroom, then leave the door open and open the nearest window for proper ventilation.
Next, mix one cup of bleach with two gallons of water and then pour it into the water-filled tub. Let it sit for about an hour before scrubbing it with a sponge brush. You can also use this method if you want to try a different bathtub color. For example, from blue to white or vice versa.
Second method and a more natural one – baking soda and cream cleaner
The second method is to use a cream cleaner such as soft scrub and baking soda. You will need one tablespoon of baking soda and two tablespoons of cream cleaner for every five gallons of water that you are using in the tub. Fill up the tub with five gallons so that the cleaner can work its way down.
Use cream cleaner (Cif works great) to scrub away any of the soap scum that is still on the tub and a sponge or rag in order to get rid of any leftover dirt or grime. Mix one tablespoon of white vinegar with two tablespoons of water and then pour it over the entire tub, taking care not to disturb the dirt.
Use a wash cloth or scrubber to gently remove the dirt, grime, and even soap scum that has accumulated on your tub’s surface. No need for harsh chemicals like bleach, just vinegar, and water!
For a complete restoration of the color of your bathtub use epoxy remover
Before starting the complete restoration of the bathtub, cover the drainage hole with masking tape, as well as the overflow drain hole. The same applies if you change the color of a Jacuzzi. Since the paint vapors can create a latter on the items in the bathroom, cover with paper the wall tiles, toilet, sink, and floor tiles, as well as mirrors if there are any.
Next, you need to apply an epoxy paint stripper to the surface of your bathtub.
For a smooth finish, you should apply it to the entire tub. Wait for 30 minutes before you start scrubbing it off with steel wool or wire brush. After that, rinse off the paint residue from your bathtub and inspect to see if there are any water leaks under the bathtub. This part is important before you start painting it with epoxy paint.
First, buy a bathtub refinishing kit
These kits can be purchased at home depot, amazon, or other stores. Bathtub reglazing kits are mainly used for acrylic, porcelain, and fiberglass tubs. Usually, one kit should be enough for an average size bathtub resurfacing.
If you have a larger than the normal tub, you can buy two kits at the same time and return the other one if you haven’t opened it. Make sure they will dry within 24 hours rather than 48 hours.
If you get this kit, you will also require the following:
1. 12-inch masking paper
2. 1-inch masking tape
3. Wooden paint stirrer
Before purchasing the kit check what items are included in it so that you do not unnecessarily purchase them twice. There are also some kits that contain a sand paper and a foam paint roller as well.
Set up the ventilation and put in PPE
For the plastic bathtub refinishing project, you would need epoxy paint and chemical cleaners. Both these are injurious to your health. Therefore, you should take precautionary measures to prevent toxicity.
For this, you will need the following:
· An extractor fan or a bathroom window.
· A standard portable fan
· Cleaning gloves that you might use to wash the dishes.
· Disposable gloves
· Safety goggles
· A respirator with a proper filter
Remove caulk and hardware
For this step, you will need the following:
· The tools that you would need to remove the bathtub.
· A putty knife and pliers.
· Heat Gun
· Caulk Softener
First, remove the caulk and then the bathtub hardware.
Have a thorough look and see if there are any surface cracks. All surface imperfections have to be repaired before proceeding to paint. Acrylic tub repair can be easily fixed with epoxy filler. You will need a specialty kit and follow the instructions according. Epoxy filler is one of the best and most durable solutions for fixing a chip in the bathtub.
Clean the bathtub surface
If there is grease, dirt, grim, etc. on your bathtub, it will prevent the adhesion of the paint. It will also affect the finished look and how long it will last. Therefore, make sure that you get a thorough cleaning done. For cleaning, you will require the following:
2. An abrasive cleaner with bleach.
3. Abrasive scrubber
6. Paper towels
6. Molds or Mildew remover
Make sure that the water you use is not too hot. This is because steam can be built up and the moisture can also interfere with the paint adhesion.
Prepare the surface for the paint
The refinishing paint will not stick to the moisture or dirt. It will adhere mildly to a smooth surface. So you will need to scuff up the bathtub before painting. For this step, you will need the following:
1. Etching cleaner
2. Dry Sandpaper
3. Hair Dryer
4. Painter’s tape
5. Plastic tarp
6. Plastic bag
7. Towel or paper towel
Depending on the bathroom re-finishing kind that you had bought, you might have received an etching cleaner. Read the instructions on the packaging and etch out the bath. In case you did not receive an etching cleaner in the kit, you can proceed to sandpapering instantly. You should dry out the tub thoroughly. Make sure to protect the tub and other hardware.
Paint the Bathtub
The bathtub refinishing kits are not all the same. But they should come with instructions. So follow the instructions carefully. You will have to follow the steps mentioned below:
· Bathroom refinishing kit
· Foam brush
· Paintbrush, paint roller (small), or paint sprayer
· Paint stirrer
· Paint tray
First, check that all the items have been included in the bathtub re-finishing kit like the paint roller. There are also some kits that have a cup and a comb also included so then you will not need a paint brush or a foam brush.
If you have received a paint primer in your kit, you should apply it to your tub first. Then you have to take the two-part epoxy paint. A hardener and a part B paint will be included with your re-finishing kit. Mix them together by following the instructions.
Wait for the paint to thicken. Even though the packaging instructions do not ask you to let the mixture sit for some time, you should let it sit for at least 5-10 minutes. This mixture will then thicken and you will be able to paint the tub properly.
You can now start painting your tub by applying a thin coat first.
Make sure that the brush or the roller has a lot of paint on it. You should apply the paint in even strokes. If you are using a paint roller, you can use the foam brush for painting along the caulk line.
Some kits will instruct you to wait before applying the second coat. Others, you will be able to do it immediately. When you put the second epoxy coating, you will have to follow the same pattern as before and make sure the paint is creating a nice even finish. Do not lean against the wet paint.
Apply the finishing touches
Once the bathtub paint has dried completely, you can re-caulk. For this step, you need:
1. Caulking Gun
3. Tools that will help you to put back the hardware
Now, you will have to replace the hardware that you had removed in step 3. If you see that there are any spots that have to be touched up, make sure that the bath tub is clean and dry. Use the left over paint for these touch-ups if needed.
Take proper care of your plastic refinished bathtub
Keep in mind not to clean the re-finished surface with abrasive cleaners. Use a gentle but effective cleaner and a soft cloth. Do not use a scrubber or a sponge for cleaning the surface of the bathtub.
If you change the color of your bathtub and the replaced caulk, your bathroom will surely look unrecognizable. This refinish should last for a long time depending on the quality of the kind of tub re-finishing kit that you had bought.
It doesn’t matter if you have a cast iron tub, an acrylic one, or a ceramic bathtub. The best way to preserve the tub look and keep it in good shape, you have to clean it often, keep the water level low and make sure to wipe down the shower curtain and around the edges of the bath tub.