Re: Changing bathtub color
Posted by Dick--Alaska on February 12, 19101 at 21:49:39:
In response to Re: Changing bathtub color
Yes, Virginia, there is...a do-it-yourself kit for changing bathtub color.

You didn't mention what the tub is made of. Many tubs are classic porcelain finish on steel or cast iron. Others can be acrylic or other plastic. In general, either can be coated with a liquid "catalyzing resin", which consists of a creamy liquid containing the new color plus a smaller container of water-like "hardener".

The key to success is absolute cleanliness of the original tub surface before coating, plus slightly roughening the old surface to help with a good bond.

Reasons against this as a "do-it-yourself" project have to do with your health. If it is a porcelain-coated tub, you are actually sanding glass, not at all good to breathe. By all means get professional advice from either a reliable pait store or marine store (the best coatings are used to refinish Fiberglas boat hulls and can withstand even salt water for many years.)

The sanding can be done with "wet-or-dry" sandpaper and if you wet the surface and keep rinsing your sandpaper in water that will keep the glass-dust to a minimum. A paint store dust mask sells for a few cents and are advisable.

To clean the sanded surface before recoating unfortunately can be done best with a heavy-duty solvent, so keep doors and windows open, point a fan into the area, wear solvent-proof gloves and don't smoke. Read the entire label of the product you choose before starting, and it should list suggested solvents for precleaning. A clean bond is the best insurance against early failure, so don't skimp on this step. Use plenty of throwaway paper towels first, finish with clean cloths, and take both outside as-used to a well-ventilated area to dry--both to minimize solvent fumes inside and to avoid fire hazard.

"Epoxy resin" is available at most paint stores and is famous for sticking "forever" to just about any clean, roughened surface (including your fingers--wear gloves always.) The same store normally will carry special tinting additives iif you want to get fancy.

At marine stores, ask for "Gelcoat" in white or colors. White can also be tinted. "Gelcoat" costs about twice the coating it goes over on boats, is extremely glossy and hard, and designed to take tough wear. For a bathtub I would use gelcoat for all coats if you decide on more than one for smoothness.

Either way, tell the seller what you are doing and ask about two important items--how and whether to thin it, and how to control how much time you have to apply once you add the "hardener". In general, the amount of hardener can be reduced a little to give you more time. Also, having both tub and the coating fluid on the cool side will slow it up.

It's OK to mix the tint coloring (NOT the hardener) into the whole batch to assure uniformity. However, at least until you get the hang of it, mix hardener-and-coating only in smallish batches you can apply before it starts to "set", because whatever is still in the can will shortly turn into a rock once it sets and that portion discarded (or used as a colorful doorstop.)

Also, ask your supplier about selling you a small amount of traction material to sprinkle over the bottom before the material has set. These coatings harden with a glassy finish and are slippery when wet. It is pretty easy to sprinkle the recommended additive (basically clean, fine sand) over the bottom surface to make the finished result more skidproof. I'm not certain, but I think that commercial tubs coat over the grit when it has set with a thinned-down additional layer to make it a little less "gritty", but ask the seller for suggestions. These days, that may require moving up to a supervisor to find someone competent to really advise you, but since this is very permanent stuff it's worth the effort.

Happy coating, and keep the fan on!




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