It can be tempting to ignore your home repairs if they don’t seem urgent. But even tiny problem areas can quickly explode into disasters if left untreated. As the focal point of your bathroom, the bathtub should be a priority if wear and tear start to become evident. In particular, peeling finish is a common issue that is both unattractive and can lead to expensive corrosion damage. If you’re dealing with peeling finish, you have one of two options: either pay hundreds to have it professionally fixed or pick up a few items from the store and get it done yourself for cheap. Here’s how to do it.

Things You’ll Need

You can find refinishing kits in most home improvement stores that will include cleaning, sanding, and repair materials as well as paint. More specifically, you will require:
– A respirator
– Painter’s tape
– Plastic sheets
– Sandpaper – of various grits
– Caulk tool
– Tack cloth – several rags

The Process

1. Clean the tub thoroughly using the bathroom cleaner that suits your bathtub. Make sure you don’t use adhesives as they might damage the bathtub’s surface. Remove all the scum or any residue in the tub, then allow it to air-dry.

2. Remove any caulk connecting the bottom of the liner to the top of the tub using the caulk tool.

3. Using either steel wool or sandpaper, rough up the surface of the tub. This will allow the new enamel to adhere to the tub’s surface


4. With a tack cloth, wipe the entire surface of the tub to eliminate any excess dust as a result of sanding.

5. Use the hardener to fill any chips or scratches in the enamel, then apply the hardener to the tub’s surface using a plastic scraper. Be sure to remove any excess until the hardener is flush on the surface. Depending on the type of hardener and the temperature of the room, allow 24-72 hours for the epoxy to cure.

6. Sand the surface to ensure the hardener is smooth.

7. Cover all the parts on the inside and around the tub that you don’t want to refinish using the plastic sheets and painter’s tape. This should include the handles, faucet, overflow plate, and bathtub liner.

8. Use the enamel paint with a 1-inch by 50-millimeter brush and apply with even strokes, starting with the floor, moving up to the sides, and finishing on the rim. Allow the tub to dry for 24 hours before applying the second coat, then wait another 24 hours before using it.

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

While this is a fairly simple project, there’s still a few areas where beginners mess up.

You purchased the wrong products – If you buy the wrong enamel or your paint brush is too thin, your tub’s probably going to come out looking less than perfect. Likewise, if you decide to skimp out and use low-quality products, the results probably aren’t going to meet your expectations. Remember, you’ll save more money in the long-run if you invest in the best materials the first time than if you have to redo it or call a professional.

You cut corners during the prep process – I know, you want your tub to be finished as quickly as possible, especially if it’s the only one in the house. But if you skip any steps in the process, you’re only going to prolong the time it takes to get it back in working condition. Improper procedure can result in consequences ranging from uneven paint to more serious problems like tub leaks. One particular lazy DIY mistake deserves its own point…

You don’t let the tub dry between stages – This is probably the most common – and most damaging – error one can make when refinishing their tub. Waiting for paint to dry might be frustrating, but allowing for the minimum amount of time before applying additional coats or using your tub is absolutely necessary if you want the finish to properly set. As I said earlier, you don’t want to have to spend more money simply because you couldn’t wait.

When done correctly, your bathtub’s finish could last up to twenty years depending on how well you maintain your tub’s surface. Just keep an eye out for the corners of the bathtub, for this is typically where finish begins peeling first. But if you’ve done it correctly, you won’t have to worry about this for a while. Good luck!

Caryl Anne Crowne is a contributing writer and media relations specialist for Re-Bath.