Resurfacing Bathtubs Step By Step

If you have priced new tubs lately, you already know that resurfacing bathtubs instead of replacing them can save you a bucket of money. And if you happen to own an older type of tub, you may find it next to impossible to find a new one that is as spacious or as comfortable. Additionally, replacing a tub hardly ever means simply changing them out. Often when removing a bathtub, the surrounding tile gets damaged and must be replaced, too. New hardware must also then be purchased to go with the new tub.


1) The first step to resurfacing bathtubs is to scrape away the old caulk between the tub, walls, and floor using a putty knife. Next take out the drain cover and use tape to cover the faucets. After you have completed your new resurfacing, the edges of it will be hidden by new caulk and the refitted hardware.

2) A very clean surface is necessary for resurfacing bathtubs, and to do this best, use a razor-blade scraper to remove any soap scum and dirt, then go over the tub with an alkaline emulsifier, the same kind used to remove floor wax, wiping it on with an old cloth. Neutralize the emulsifier by applying a citrus-based cleanser, which is acid-based. Rinse and dry well, and then rub the entire surface of the tub with denatured alcohol.

3) With a trowel, use fiberglass putty to fill in any dents, pits, or deep scratches when resurfacing bathtubs. Sometimes the entire surface must be puttied when bleach or abrasive cleansers have been used on previous cleanings of the tub. After the putty has hardened, sand first with very course sandpaper to get rid of any large bumps and then use finer sandpaper, such as 80 grit, for smoothing and feathering-out the putty.

4) Pockmarks in the putty can then be filled with polyester putty and then sanded using the same course-to-fine sandpaper method.

5) Wipe the tub down with a tack cloth and apply a coat of hydrofluoric acid (Caution- protect skin and eyes from this poisonous substance), allow to dry, and then apply a bonding agent. This allows the new enamel to adhere to the old porcelain and is a step that cannot be omitted.

The New Surface

6) For the next step when resurfacing bathtubs, it is important to protect your lungs from vapor and fumes. Use a face mask with a ventilator, if possible, to keep from inhaling toxic chemicals.

Open all windows and doors, and try to get as much ventilation into the bathroom as possible. A portable fan helps, as well, to keep the air moving and from irritating your respiratory system.

7)Using a spray rig, apply three coats of acrylic urethane enamel paint, allowing each coat to dry for about 15-20 minutes before applying the next coat. Allow to cure overnight.

8) Use a wet sander with very fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough surfaces in the paint. Dry off with paper toweling and then use a buffer with a foam pad attached and auto-body buffing compound to go over the entire surface.

9) As the final step to resurfacing bathtubs, you will want to go over the tub with polymer-glaze car wax and hand buff it to a soft luster. Caulk as necessary around all edges, remove tape around the faucets, re-install the drain and you are finished.