Plastic bathtubs have an advantage, as they tend to last a long time. Despite this, hard water, soapy residue, and other substances can make the plastic lose its attractive finish.
If this occurs, the bathtub can begin to look dated, dirty, and dreary.
You may want to replace the bathtub if this occurs, but can take its toll on your schedule and wallet.
One way of fixing this is by painting your plastic bathtub.
Bathtubs can be affected by the oils our bodies produce naturally, but painting the tub can revitalize it once more.
You can also choose to paint yours a specific shade to match your bathroom color scheme.
You’ll learn how to paint a plastic bathtub in this article. We’ll cover the best painting methods to try, what type of paint to use, and how to get the paint to adhere to plastic.
Can Plastic Bathtubs Be Painted?
Yes, plastic bathtubs can be painted! You may want to do this for several reasons. Paint can hide any scratches or stains, but it can also give the bathtub a fresh, updated appearance.
Whether you prefer a neutral bathroom color scheme or a fun, bold one, painting your tub can make it match the rest of your bathroom decor.
It’s also much more affordable compared to replacing the bathtub entirely, and takes much less effort too.
After you paint the bathtub, you won’t need to use any clear coat or sealant afterward. This will just add unnecessary steps to the painting process.
If you’re bored with your current bathroom, or feel that your tub needs a new lease of life, painting the bathtub is a simple and low-cost solution.
Tips On Painting A Plastic Bathtub
Painting your bathtub will require a specific paint. You cannot use paints used for other common household tasks that you may have lying in your basement.
Bathtubs are filled with water regularly, so the paint needs to be water-resistant to avoid peeling. Standard paint varieties will be unsuitable for this.
You can buy kits that are specially designed for restoring plastic tubs.
These may come with water-resistant paint, or may recommend a type of paint that you can purchase at a hardware store.
Refinishing kits are available for many types of bathtubs, not just plastic ones, so there’s sure to be one that works for your bathroom.
The kits will include items that work well with your bathtub.
Finishing kits usually contain the following items:
- Liquid primer
- Etching cleaner
- Refinishing paint
- Tack cloth
- Foam brush
- Tray rollers
- Anti-slip chemical
Types Of Paint Suitable For Plastic Bathtubs
Acrylic paint is generally the best choice for plastic bathtubs. These non-toxic formulas dry rapidly and can give a satisfying finish. Acrylic also resists hot water temperatures well.
Before you go in with your paint, you need to ensure that your plastic bathtub is cleaned properly.
Bathtubs can be coated with mineral buildup, grease, and soap scum. Painting over this can lead to unsightly bumps and an irregular finish.
If you do use typical acrylic paint, make sure that you prime the bathtub with a primer designed for plastic. This will ensure that the paint adheres to the tub’s surface well.
Apply this primer to a dry, well-sanded, chemically cleaned bathtub.
You can apply the acrylic paint straight on top of the base coat, as long as the paint is designed solely for plastic surfaces.
Other than acrylic, another good paint option is epoxy paint.
This is different from standard interior paint, as these formulas can peel and crack in contact with hot water and other substances.
In contrast, epoxy has great cohesion, and is impressively sturdy once it’s cured. You can also use epoxy paints to paint the tiles surrounding your bathtub too.
How To Make Paint Adhere To Plastic
Ensuring your paint sticks to your plastic tub can be difficult. The job isn’t that difficult if you’re painting the tub the same shade.
However, if you want to change the tub’s color or cover up a flaw on the surface, here are some tips to ensure that your paint will stick.
- The best thing to do is to scrub the bathtub well before anything else. This will eliminate any residue or dirt on the tub. This step will give the bathtub a smooth surface, preventing the paint from peeling off later down the line.
- If you notice any stains on the tub, soak the marks in soapy water for around 15 minutes. The water will soften the stain so that they are easier to clean.
- Let your bathtub’s surface dry fully before you paint it. If the tub is too wet, the moisture on the surface can cause bubbles underneath the paint, affecting how your bathtub looks.
- Make sure that you use a minimum of two coats of paint.
- This will help the end finish look even across the whole tub. You can use a paint roller on bigger areas as this will help save time.
- You don’t need to apply a wax or a clear coat after you have painted the tub, but doing so may prevent scratches and peel later. Add these protective layers once the paint has dried and cooled down fully.
Precautions To Consider Before Painting A Bathtub
Before you start this project, make sure that you wear a vented mask and keep your working space clean and well-ventilated.
Paint can give off dangerous fumes, so you need to lower your risk of inhaling these.
As mentioned above, make sure that you scrub your bathtub thoroughly and sand it down beforehand. This will save you money and time later as you won’t need to repeat the process later.
Related: Tips on painting Laminate flooring.
Length Of Time To Paint A Plastic Bathtub
Painting plastic bathtubs can take between one and two days to finish. This involves letting the paint dry fully, as well as roughly four hours to sand and clean the bathtub.
Remember, if you spend more time sanding and cleaning the bathtub’s original surface, the paint job has a better chance of adhering to the tub.
Painting A Plastic Bathtub
After you have selected your paint or purchased your restoration kit, you can now begin painting your tub to restore its appearance.
Follow these steps to paint your plastic bathtub:
- Begin by cleaning your plastic bathtub with a cleaner, taking the time to remove grease, soap residue, and dirt.
- Use 200-grit sandpaper to sand the bathtub. This will help the paint adhere to the tub better. Sand the tub until the paper starts wearing away, then rinse with warm water to clean the dust from the tub. Leave to dry.
- Once the tub has dried completely, use an epoxy filler to fill any holes, creases, or cracks. Smooth the filler with a putty knife. The epoxy will need at least 24 hours to dry.
- Cover any tiles, fixtures, or knobs with paper tape to avoid the primer coating them. If you are using paint that is designed to adhere to plastic, don’t prime the tub.
- If you are using a primer, you will need to apply it before you start painting. The primer will help the paint retain an even finish. Leave the primer to dry for three hours before you paint the tub.
- Shake the paint to ensure that it is smooth, then pour around a third of the contents into a plastic tray. Follow all of the advice on the label surrounding paint mixing.
- Use a brush to apply the paint, focusing on any places that are harder to reach. Examples are around fittings, drains, and corners.
- Switch to a paint roller to apply the paint to the rest of the bathtub. Apply three, even coats, leaving one or two hours after each layer to dry.
- Take the paper tape off and leave the tub to dry. Wait 48 hours for the paint to fully dry before you start using the repainted plastic tub.
Frequently Asked Questions
Enamel paints aren’t usually used on plastic as they can wear down the material. This is also the case with latex paints, unless the label specifies that they are suitable for plastic. Latex paint is generally thinner than oil-based varieties, so you may need to apply more coats to fully cover the bathtub’s surface.
The best way of ensuring your paint applies smoothly on plastic is to clean and prepare the surface prior. This involves cleaning the plastic well with water and soap, using chemical cleaners to remove any residue, and leaving it to dry fully before painting. Remember that a humid environment will increase the time it takes to apply the paint.
Painting a bathtub may be ideal if you are searching for an affordable way to revitalize your bathroom. Older bathtubs can have stains, fading, and dullness that can make your bathroom look shabby. If your bathtub is somewhat free from imperfections and scratches, painting the tub can give it a nice new look. However, if the bathtub has lots of wear and tear, you may need to replace it entirely.
The Bottom Line
Now you know how to paint a plastic bathtub! This method will cost you much less than replacing the whole tub.
You can paint it the same color or also opt for an entirely new shade, the choice is yours!
Just be sure to carry out each step properly, making sure that the tub is scrubbed and sanded well at first.
This may take a while, but it is the best way to ensure that your bathtub has a smooth and even paint finish later.