Acrylic bathtubs are a great combination of sturdy, stylish and affordable. Made by alternating layers of nonporous acrylic with reinforcing fiberglass, these tubs are easy to customize and come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. The biggest drawback to these tubs is that, while the tub itself is durable, the acrylic surface is soft compared to other materials and can be chipped, cracked or dented over its lifetime. Fortunately, it's possible, though dangerous, to refinish an acrylic tub with a high-quality epoxy kit.
Refinishing an Acrylic Tub
Small chips and cracks can perhaps be overlooked in your tub. After years of wear and tear, however, your acrylic tub will start to show its age, and simply ignoring chips and cracks may no longer be an option.
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When little repairs start to add up, you may want to go ahead with refinishing (also called reglazing or resurfacing) the surface of the acrylic tub. This is less expensive than purchasing and installing a new tub.
To avoid the use of harsh chemicals, look for a high-quality reglazing kit that does not use solvents. Even if you are using a product like this, you should ventilate the area while you work. You can also choose to use a respirator, eye protection and disposable gloves to protect yourself.
Starting the Project
First, you'll need to remove every bit of caulk around the edges of the bathtub with a utility knife. Wipe down the surface with isopropyl alcohol. Then, sand down the tub and use paint stripper to remove any previously applied coatings.
Next, remove faucets and fixtures and clean the entire surface of the bathtub with bleach and warm water, being sure to ventilate sufficiently. Scrub out any visible dirt or mildew; then rinse the surface with warm water.
Remove rust spots using a rust neutralizing compound. Tape off the edges and around the drain so that nothing will get on the walls or tile around the tub or fall into your drain.
Completing the Reglazing Process
Mix Part A and Part B of your relazing kit together and follow manufacturer instructions for a wait time. You may need to, for instance, mix for 10 minutes, wait five minutes after mixing and then mix again for two to three minutes.
Bend the container in half and pour it in to the tub. Once the entire container is emptied, spread it around the base of the tub and the tub's three walls. Scrape any excess back into the container. Use a foam roller to ensure that you have spread the glaze over the entire surface of the tub.
When you have finished spreading the glaze around the tub, remove the tape from the walls. Some of the glaze will slowly flow back down into the tub as it dries, so you'll need to check in frequently to redistribute the material and ensure it is even. Continue doing this until the glaze is even and has dried on the tub. Once you have finished this process, reapply caulk around the edges of the tub.