Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Refinishing the Bath Tub
As I mentioned in the bathroom remodeling post, our choices with the worn-nearly-down-to-metal porcelain enamelled cast iron tub were to (a) bring in a cutting torch and cut it in half to enable two power-lifters to carry it out through the door or (b) tear out the entire exterior wall of the room including removing the weight-bearing framing in order to hoist it out that way.
We chose (c): give the ugly tub a make-over and restore its erstwhile beauty.
I had planned to have a professional come refinish the tub, but no one local does this. So, I bought a two-part spray epoxy kit called "Magic ReNew Tub and Tile Refinishing", and did it myself.
Some years ago, I used spray Appliance Epoxy to paint a built-in oven exterior with good and lasting results. So I figured, as bad as this tub was, I certainly couldn't make it worse by trying.
If we only had one bathroom, we'd have had to arrange to shower at a friend's and brush our teeth in the kitchen for the couple of weeks this project required. As it was, we have two so just kept the door shut on this one.
The hardest part was cleaning and prep. This took a long time (several repetitive hours over the course of a week), but the final result will not work if the preparation is not scrupulous. Any residue of soap or oil hidden in a scratch will prevent the epoxy from adhering and cause it to peel. I was careful not to stay on my knees too much and did as much work as possible from a crouch or sitting position.
I removed the drain cover and overflow cover before starting. The I put on my goggles, my rubber gloves, and set to work. I scrubbed, cleaned with TSP (per directions on refinishing kit & using all precautions listed on the TSP package itself), sanded, steel wooled.. then scrubbed, cleaned with TSP, sanded, steel wooled... some more for at least three times. I'd work on it after work each evening until I gave out, then start over the next day.
After the final final rinse, I let it dry for several days. That's another essential - absolute dryness. Then I masked EVERYTHING.
Seriously, this job can't be done without covering everything from the floor to walls with sheets and paper, as the spray paint will drift and settle and is impossible to remove. I left it all masked until the whole job was finished.
I followed all instructions carefully, especially the safety instructions, and including the interesting chill one/heat one method for mixing the contents of the two cans.
This task requires an experienced hand with canned spray paint. It would be wise to practice by repainting a set of wicker lawn furniture or something until one gets comfortable with the on/off, back/forth motion that covers without drips. I applied the several coats of epoxy over a course of days in the evenings, and closed that bathroom off completely to allow the full length of time to cure undisturbed.
While I will not be volunteering to do this for anyone else, and I still would recommend a professional if you can possibly get one, I am VERY happy with the results for a "homemade" job of it.