Bathtubs always look great when they are brand new. However, as is the case with every type of product, things don’t stay new for long. Bathtubs can and do get old, mainly the glaze. With prolonged use, especially if a lot of heat is involved, as well as a bad glaze job the first time around, that glaze can chip, crack, and peel off, thus leaving the raw bathtub exposed and vulnerable.
Now, you might think that you need to replace your tub or that you need to hire a pro to reglaze it for you, but this is not the case. Let’s get to it and talk about how to reglaze your bathtub, as well as if doing it yourself is a good idea or not.
What Is Bathtub Reglazing?
The process of reglazing your bathtub means that you are removing the old layer of glaze (you may be removing old layers that are chipped, cracked, and peeling off, or you may be dealing with a glaze that is just totally gone), and then applying a new protective layer.
For those of you who don’t know, that layer of glaze is very important for the wellbeing and longevity of your bathtub. That glaze helps protect the bathtub materials underneath from scratching, and more importantly, it keeps the material from absorbing water and from suffering from water-related damage.
A bathtub without a good glaze is not going to look good, it feels rough on the skin, and it will cause the tub to wear down much faster than it otherwise would. If the glaze on your bathtub is coming off or has already come off, it is vital that you take care of it as soon as humanly possible.
Reglazing a Bathtub: Pros and Cons
When it comes to reglazing your bathtub, as opposed to buying a new one, there are various pros and cons that you need to consider.
Pro: You Will Save Money
The simple fact of the matter is that it is cheaper to reglaze a bathtub than to buy a new one. If you are looking to save money then reglazing your tub is the more cost effective option.
Pro: It is Easier than Replacing Your Tub
When compared to replacing your bathtub as a whole, not only is it much more affordable to just re-glaze it, but it’s also much easier. Instead of having to rip out your old bathtub and replace it with a brand new one, thus constituting what is essentially a full bathroom remodel, you just have to cover up the area and do a bit of muscle work.
Pro: You Can Change the Look of it
One of the coolest parts about reglazing your bathtub on your own is the fact that you can actually change the look and color of it. Glazes come in all sorts of colors and finishes to choose from, thus making the world your oyster. If you want to add some spice to your bathroom, try going for a colorful glaze.
Pro: It Will Look and Feel Better
Even if you don’t actually end up changing the look of your bathtub in terms of the color, the fact of the matter is that a glazed tub always looks better than an unglazed tub, or one where the glaze is chipping away. It just looks new and better. There is also the fact that when the glaze comes off of your bathtub, the surface underneath is going to be very rough and that doesn’t feel nice on the skin. Reglazing your bathtub allows for a very smooth finish that will feel good on your skin.
Pro: You Will Help Protect the Tub
Of course, one of the main benefits of reglazing your tub is the fact that you will be protecting it. As we have mentioned before, a bathtub without a good layer of glaze on top is susceptible to all sorts of damage. By putting a new layer of glaze on your bathtub, you are protecting it from all sorts of physical damage, thus saving you money in the long run and prolonging the overall lifespan of the bathtub.
Pro: It is More Eco-Friendly
Even though reglazing a bathtub does involve a lot of chemicals, the simple fact is that it’s still more eco-friendly than fully replacing a tub.
Con: A Lot of Time is Required
One of the drawbacks of reglazing a tub is the fact that it does take time. If things don’t go right, it can take up to four days to complete this task.
Con: Your Bathroom Will Be Out of Commission
Speaking of the time needed to reglaze your bathtub, the simple fact here is that for as long as it takes to do so, your bathroom is going to be out of commission. Of course, if you only have one bathroom in your home, this is going to be a problem.
Con: It’s Not Easy to DIY
Another fact that you need to be aware of here is that reglazing a bathtub involves many different steps, and none of them are particularly easy. If you don’t know anything about epoxy, glazing, caulking, or grouting, then this is going to be a very difficult task and if you don’t know what you’re doing, chances are that your tub is going to end up looking worse than it did before.
Con: There Are Many Poisonous Substances Involved
You also need to be aware of the fact that many of the substances required to replace the glaze are very poisonous. In other words, you need to be careful when working with them.
Con: It May Not Last as Long as a New Tub
The other fact that you need to be aware of here is that if you don’t do a good job reglazing your bathtub, it’s not going to last very long at all. It would not be the first time that we see a reglazed bathtub go bad within a few months of the job being done.
Should You Reglaze Your Bathtub?
There are two things that you need to consider here. First off, what is your budget like? If you want to save as much money as possible, then you’re obviously going to want to do it yourself, because hiring a professional costs money. However, with that being said, the other thing to consider here is how much knowledge and skill you have in relation to this project.
If you don’t know what you are doing, chances are that you’re going to do a bad job and your tub is going to end up worse than before. If you are not confident in your skills and knowledge surrounding all of the aspects that are involved in reglazing a bathtub, then it is probably best to hire a professional.
How to Reglaze a Bathtub
OK, so now that we have covered all of the basics, such as whether or not you want to reglaze your bathtub yourself, what it actually means, and what the pros and cons of doing so are, it’s time to go over a step-by-step tutorial. Let’s get to it.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
In order to get started with reglazing your bathtub, you will first need to gather all of the necessary materials for the job. Refer to the list below to find out exactly what you will need to reglaze your bathtub:
- Masking tape or painter’s tape
- Sandpaper (120 grit)
- Air compressor or shop vac
- Bathtub glaze
- Caulking and caulking gun
- Scraper and chisel
- Bathtub body filler
- Air fan
- Industrial bathtub cleaner
- Hydrofluoric acid
Step 2: Prepare the Bathroom
Keep in mind that preparation is always half the battle when it comes to this kind of thing. If everything is well prepared, it is going to make life a whole lot easier. In order to prepare your bathroom for bathtub reglazing, there are a few things that you need to do.
Refer to the bullet points below for an exact list of everything that you need to do to prepare your bathroom for bathtub reglazing:
- The first thing that you want to do is to move everything and anything from your bathroom, besides those things that are stored in cabinets or cupboards. You do not want anything being damaged by the glazing process.
- You will also need to remove a variety of fixtures from the bathtub. To allow for adequate access to all areas of the bathtub, you will need to remove the showerhead, the faucet, and any other such components. Anything made out of metal or screwed onto the bathtub needs to be removed. On that same note, if you need easy access to the bathtub, you may even need to remove your toilet from the bathroom (depending on the layout of your bathroom).
- One of the more difficult and time-consuming things that you will need to do before you can start the reglazing process is to remove all caulking and grout that immediately borders the bathtub. Use chisels, scrapers, and various other tools to remove any and all grout and caulking from the immediate area. Moreover, once you have removed all of the grout and caulking, make sure to thoroughly clean the area and remove all of those loose pieces. You do not want old and loose grout or caulking settling into your fresh glaze.
- The various chemicals and glazes that you will use for your bathtub can create some very noxious fumes that can result in headaches, nausea, and other such symptoms. Therefore, before you begin reglazing your bathtub, you absolutely need to open all possible windows and if possible, put a good air fan into the room. You absolutely need great ventilation when doing this. If you are unable to open windows, then some good air fans for ventilation become just that much more important. If you are unable to achieve good ventilation in your bathroom while glazing your bathtub, you will need to wear a respirator to protect your lungs. These chemicals can be extremely dangerous when inhaled in large quantities, so this needs to be avoided at all costs.
- To avoid getting epoxy, glaze, and other such substances on the floor, it is a good idea to cover everything with a basic tarp. These chemicals and substances will make quite a mess if they get onto your bathroom floor. At this point, it is also a good idea to put that painter’s tape to use, to cover off any areas that you want to avoid getting epoxy or glaze on.
Step 3: Clean and Prepare the Tub
Now that the bathroom as a whole is ready to go, before you can start putting new material onto your tub, you must first thoroughly clean the bathtub, and yes, this involves removing the old glaze and paint, particularly in the areas where it is coming off already.
Refer to the list below for all of the steps that you need to follow in order to prepare your bathtub for reglazing:
- Use an industrial-strength bathtub cleaner to very thoroughly clean the bathtub from top to bottom. Once the bathtub is clean, thoroughly rinse away any remaining chemicals and residue. Once all residue is gone, use the shop vac to dry the entire area.
- Now it is time to put that 120 grit sandpaper to use. You need to thoroughly sand the bathtub to remove all paint, calcium deposits, and old glaze. Once you have removed as much as possible, you must once again rinse the tub with water, and then blow it dry with the shop vac.
- Once the tub is totally dry, you need to wash the bathtub with hydrofluoric acid, and then let it sit for about 15 minutes.
- Rinse the bathtub with cold water, and blow it dry again. Now you need to go back to using the 120 grit sandpaper to continue sanding the surface until all old glaze, paint, and other materials are removed.
- Now you need to blow dry the bathtub for the final time, with this round of blow-drying being the most important. You need to make sure that there is absolutely no moisture left before moving onto the next step.
Step 4: Apply the Bathtub Body Filler
The next thing that you need to do is to use that bathtub filler to fill in any holes, divots, or areas that have suffered severe acid damage. Apply the body filler as directed on the product instructions. Generally speaking, you will need to use some kind of scraping or leveling tool, something similar to a trowel, to easily spread it around.
Keep in mind that bathtub body filler gets very hard once dry and is nearly impossible to sand off. So, when filling in those areas, be sure to work very clean and tidy. The less sanding you have to do afterward, the better.
Sand off the body filler until everything is totally smooth. At this point, your bathtub should look brand new, without any holes, divots, or damaged areas, just without a coat of glaze. You will most likely need to wait upwards of 24 hours for the body filler to totally dry.
Step 5: Apply the Epoxy Primer
In order for the glaze to properly adhere to the bathtub, you will first need to prime the bathtub using a special epoxy primer, one that is specially designed for this exact purpose. Using a smooth brush, apply a thin and even coating of epoxy primer to the entire bathtub.
Once you have applied the epoxy and made sure that everything is totally smooth, you will need to wait for it to dry before moving onto the next step. Depending on the product in question, as well as ambient air conditions, it may take 24 hours or longer for the epoxy to totally cure.
Step 6: Glaze Your Tub and Let it Dry
Alright, so before you get to the actual glazing process, if you have not already covered absolutely everything with tape and plastic sheets, now is the time to do so.
That glaze will stick to everything, and it is nearly impossible to remove. You do not want glaze particles sticking to your mirrors, toothbrushes, combs, and everything in between. Now is also the time when you want to dawn your respirator and jack up the ventilation to the maximum possible level.
All that you need to do now is to apply the glaze to your bathtub according to the instructions on your product. Make sure to follow the directions as closely as humanly possible. Leave the room as soon as possible because you do not want to inhale these fumes. You will now need to let the glaze dry.
Step 7: Replace the Fixtures
Once you have allowed the newly applied glaze to dry for about 24 hours, you can then replace the fixtures, such as the overflow valve, the spout, and the showerhead, as well as the curtain rail. Once you have replaced the fixtures, move onto the next step.
Step 8: Re-Caulk and Re-Grout
Once you are certain that the glaze is totally dry to the touch, you can then re-caulk and re-grout the bathtub. This is a very important step that you must not forget. Grouting and caulking is very important to create a watertight seal.
Of course, grouting and caulking a bathtub is an entire process of its own. I wrote about the latter here.
Step 9: Apply Finishing Touches
Wait for at least 48 hours after glazing and at least 24 hours after caulking, to use the tub. At this point, you can remove the tape and tarps, return everything to the bathroom, remove the ventilation system, and you are good to go.
Now it’s time for a bubble bath!
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
To finish this article off, below are some additional tips to keep in mind as you go through this process:
- Never apply new layers of anything over old layers, when the layer underneath is either wet or dirty. If you expect epoxy and glaze to adhere, the surfaces must be clean and dry.
- It is strongly recommended that you wear an industrial-grade respirator when working with tub glaze and other such poisonous chemicals.
- You also want to wear eye protection, because you definitely do not want any of those substances getting into your eyes.
- Although you may not need to hire a professional, you may want to consult one, especially if you are unclear as to what needs to be done.
There you have it, folks, everything that you need to know about reglazing your bathtub from A to Z. Now, keeping in mind everything that we have said here today, although glazing your own bathtub is definitely doable, it is not fast or easy. It is going to take a whole lot of preparation, work, waiting, patience, and a good deal of skill to accomplish this task successfully.
In terms of DIY, this is probably one of the harder and more time-consuming things that you can do in your home. That said, if you are careful, patient, and can closely follow instructions, then you should be totally fine to do it yourself.