Removing and replacing a plastic tub in the bathroom is an expensive undertaking and could make the bathroom unusable for weeks. A much faster and less expensive way to get a new tub is to refinish it. If started early in the day, most tub refinishing projects can be finished in one day. Doing the job yourself not only gives you a great feeling of accomplishment, but also saves a lot of money. The plastic bathtub, when properly repaired and refinished, will look good for years.

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Preparation of Plastic Tub

The quality of the finish on a plastic tub depends upon carefully following the preparation steps. The preparation determines how well the new finish will adhere and last. Remove all caulking around the tub and remove the ring around the drain.

When working with a kit that contains all the products necessary for the refinishing job, use the included cleaner to scrub the tub surfaces to remove all oils and soap residue. If a cleaner was not included in the kit, scrub the tub with a cleaner such as tri-sodium phosphate. Follow the directions on the container for mixing the cleaning solution. Wear gloves and use a nylon-scrubbing pad to clean all the surfaces of the tub. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a lint-free towel or paper towels.

Repair nicks and gouges in the surface of the tub with an epoxy filler formulated to adhere to the plastic. Allow to cure for the length of time recommended. Sand any filled areas smooth.

Wet-sand all the tub surfaces. Wet 120-grit waterproof sandpaper with warm water and sand until all gloss removed from the tub surfaces. A palm sander makes this part of the preparation go faster. Pay special attention to the area around the tub drain; any residue or gloss remaining in this area will affect the adhesion of the primer and paint. Rinse the tub to remove all sanding residue and dry.

Mask off all surfaces near the tub including the faucets. Enclose the shower head in a plastic bag to avoid water dripping on the tub surfaces.

Applying Primer to the Plastic Tub

Apply two coats of acrylic-based primer, allowing drying recommended time between coats. Apply the primer by spraying or use a paintbrush and a foam roller. Check the tub surfaces after the first coat of primer for any rough areas missed when sanding. Sand these areas before applying the next coat of primer. Keep the area well-ventilated to carry away fumes from the primer.

Applying Finish Paint to the Plastic Tub

Apply two to three coats of the finish paint, allowing drying recommended time between coats. Maintain a temperature in the bathroom of 68 degrees Fahrenheit until the paint is dry. Do not use the tub for 48 hours after refinishing to allow the paint to harden.