Repair A Peeling Bath Tub

Repair A Peeling Tub

When a cast iron and porcelain tub gets old, one of the things that happens is the glaze on top gets worn away and the porous surface beneath is exposed. This can lead to staining and rusting.

Bathtub refinishing is big business. Homeowners with older homes and vintage cast-iron tubs can pay thousands of dollars to replace old tubs, or hundreds of dollars for refinishing. Of course, a competent and confident DIYer can save a lot of money doing it themselves. These tips will help you get started.

Gathering Your Materials

All you have to do is poke around on the Internet a bit and you’ll find out that there’s more than one way to refinish a bath tub. Professional refinishers often assemble all their own materials and use their own methods, but as a DIYer, your best bet is to pick up a bathtub refinishing kit from a hardware store or home improvement center.

Many bathtub refinishing kits come with the majority of the tools you need, including materials for sanding, cleaning solutions, repair/hardening mixture and paint. Before you begin work, open up your kit and read all the instructions to ensure that all the materials you need are on hand. Other tools you might need include:

  • Caulk tool
  • Respirator
  • Sand paper (various grits)
  • Tack cloth (several rags)
  • Plastic sheets
  • Painter’s tape


Even if the details vary from one contractor to another, the process is more or less the same overall.

  1. Use the caulk tool to remove the caulk that connects the top of the bathtub from the bottom of the liner.
  2. Rough up the surface of the bathtub with the steel wool included in the kit. If there’s no steel wool in the kit, buy your own or use sandpaper to scratch the surface of the tub. This step will help the new enamel adhere to the surface of the tub.
  3. Wipe down the tub with tack cloth to remove the dust accumulated from sanding.
  4. Fill in any scratches, chips or holes in the enamel with the hardener included in the kit. There will likely be specific directions to follow. Use a plastic scraper to apply the hardener to the surface of the tub and scrape off any excess until the hardener is flush with the surface of the tub. Allow the hardener to dry for the specified amount of time.
  5. Sand the surface of the hardener until it’s smooth.
  6. Use plastic sheeting and painter’s tape to cover up all the parts around and inside the bathtub that you don’t want to be refinished, including the faucet and handles, bathtub liner and overflow plate.
  7. Paint the tub with the enamel paint supplied with the refinishing kit. Apply however many coats you were told to use in the instructions that came with the kit, allowing the coats to dry for the recommended amount of time before applying additional coats.
  8. Remove the sheeting and painter’s tape from the tub.
  9. Let the paint on the tub cure for the amount of time specified by the manufacturer.

Ta-da! Your new tub should look and feel great. Properly refinished tubs can last up to 20 years, depending on your cleaning and maintenance methods. To prevent the porcelain from wearing away again, avoid using abrasive cleaning products and don’t lay anything permanently on top of the porcelain (like a rubber bath mat).

For more information, check out this online video:

Or take a look at this very thorough tutorial.

Good luck with this process. If you have experience with this process and have some suggestions to offer, leave your comments at the bottom of this blog! We’d love to hear from you.