DIY Bathtub Refinishing

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We get asked a lot about DIY bathtub refinishing kits. I’m not sure why prospective customers ask us. Its sort of like asking an accountant what he thinks about Turbo Tax software. However, we don’t mind helping customers save money, even if we loose a sale. Besides already being so busy, my thinking is that perhaps they’ll refer us to a friend or family who isn’t quite the handyman.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of DIY kits.

Pros: Extremely cheap; Satisfaction of doing the work yourself

Cons: If done improperly, it could look worse than it did before; It likely won’t last nearly as long; Cost of safety equipment can add up if you don’t already have it; If you make a mistake, stripping the coating off is a hugely messy process; Surface won’t be even unless you use a paint sprayer

This is not a job for the timid. The chemicals used in these kits are hazardous and you should be prepared with a tyvek suit, chemical proof gloves, and a respirator. Our experience has shown that most people who buy these kits are sellers who are simply trying to get the tub to look better prior to the sale and don’t really use the tub after they reglaze it. I think this is why the Rustoleum kit has decent reviews on Amazon because people we know who have diligently applied this product stated that it started peeling around the drain before the 6 month mark. I have mixed feelings about using this product on a home prior to sale. On one hand, sellers are entitled to make improvements that increase the value of their home. On the other hand, if they don’t disclose that they refinished the tub themselves, it seems a bit deceitful.

The process of the DIY kits and a professional job like the one Oahu Tub Experts offers are completely different. The main concern is adhesion. To create a good bond, we either use a chemical adhesion, which we wipe on, or a physical adhesion, which is done through an “etching” process which makes the surface of porcelain porous. Both methods are designed specifically to work with the coatings we use. The DIY kits don’t include etching chemicals, nor chemical adhesion chemicals, so they rely entirely upon the coating’s ability to adhere to the bathtub without a dependable physical or chemical bond. As a result, DIY kits should work better on fiberglass tubs because you can sand the surface before applying.

We don’t believe DIY kits are appropriate for most people because of the use of strong, hazardous chemicals, and materials that are beyond the capabilities of most homeowners. HOWEVER, for those who believe they are able, please take note of the below safety tips that we believe are vitally important:

1. VENTILATION – The chemicals used are explosive, so you need a specific fan with a sealed motor to vent the room.

2. PERSONAL PROTECTION – Full body Tyvek paint suit, goggles, respirator and chemical gloves that extend beyond your forearm are essential

3. CLEANING – Follow the directions to the letter. Your job will only be as good as your preparation. If not properly cleaned, the coating won’t stick.

4. COVERING – cover the entire bathroom floor with 3-mil plastic sheathing. Mask around tub completely.


About the Author:

Oahu Tub Experts aims to provide you with helpful home remodeling tips. We really like to focus on what we call "Value Added Remodeling". In other words, Remodeling -- or as we sometimes refer to as "Rejuvenation" -- that actually increases the value of your home measurably by more than you actually spent.