Homeowners can patch, fill minor cracks and refinish an older fibreglass or ceramic coated metal bathtub with a variety of epoxy-based products. Major cracks and damage cannot be repaired this way, but a functional yet unattractive bathtub is easy to refinish with a new epoxy coating. This extends the life of the bathtub and delays or prevents the need for a full bathroom remodel.
Sanding the surface of your bathtub smooths out any minor cracks or pits in the surface, and roughens the smooth acrylic or enamel finish so the epoxy paint can stick to it. The experts at RepairHome recommend using a high speed palm sander. This will make the job go much more quickly, and will create a more level surface because the sander vibrates as it sands. If you need to sand out cracks, a palm sander can prevent you from sanding a dip into the bathtub's surface. 300 grit sandpaper will roughen the surface without damaging it. This tool can be used on both enamel coated and acrylic bathtubs.
Muriatic Acid for Fiberglass Tubs
Muriatic acid is a very strong and possibly hazardous chemical, but on a fibreglass tub/shower unit, it may be the difference between a smooth and beautiful epoxy finish and peeling paint. Muriatic acid will strip all grease, soap scum and dust from the fibreglass surface after you have sanded it down, according to Finishing.com. This creates a clean surface that the adhesives and epoxy coating can stick to. Other chemical cleaners, like rubbing alcohol and grease-cutting hard-surface cleaners, can be used but may not be as successful. Muriatic acid creates dangerous fumes that can damage stainless steel or other surfaces, so dust sheets and a respirator must be used, as well as strong ventilation in the bathroom.
Choose an epoxy paint or coating designed for coating appliances for the best results if you are trying to refinish or repair cracks in an enamel-coated tub, says the Finishing.com website. Epoxy paints marked for marine use on fibreglass boats are the best choice for fibreglass bathtubs. Kits designed for repair or refinishing a bathtub should contain a quality coating, but check reviews of the kit before purchasing it to ensure the paint won't peel during your first bath. Epoxy coatings that can stand up to hot water and constant use may come in a limited variety of colours, so you may need to reconsider your plans for a bright purple or yellow bathtub.
For a smooth, glossy and easy to clean finish, a high-volume low-pressure spray gun is the best way to apply an epoxy coating. The experts at Finishing.com say that brushes and rollers will smear the paint or create a rough finish that will trap soap scum and dirt. All spray guns create some amount of over-spray, so be sure to cover the floors, walls and other bathroom appliances or you may need to replace them after refinishing your bathtub. Epoxy paint is nearly impossible to remove, especially from a very porous surface such as drywall.
A chemical bonding agent or quality epoxy primer will help the coating stay attached to the bathtub's surface, according to Refinishing Online. Without an adhesive agent, many epoxy coatings begin to peel or bubble from the heat of the water after just a few uses. This chemical should be applied after the tub has been sanded and cleaned, and then sanded lightly before the final epoxy coating is sprayed on. Roughening the surface of the primer or bonding agent creates a very strong bond that will hold up for many years. Look for a primer designed for use on the specific material your tub is made of. A primer that coats enamel may not work on a fibreglass tub.
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