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Can you paint a bathtub yourself? The answer is yes! And you don’t need to buy an expensive tub & tile kit. In this post I’ll show you how to paint a bathtub yourself from start to finish, including all the prep work and how to ventilate a bathroom without windows. You’ll be ready to tackle your own tub by the end of this post!

List Of Supplies Needed To Paint Your Bathtub

Rustoleum marine topside paint
Roller w/ foam roller covers (I used a 4 inch roller which worked perfectly)
Paint brush (I used a cheap foam paint brush)
Disposable paint trays
Painters tape
120 and 220 sanding blocks
Tack cloth
Bathtub cleaner and scrub brush
Protective eyewear
Respirator (the one linked below is AMAZING! I couldn’t smell a thing while wearing it along with the cartridges I bought)

Proper Ventilation

Before moving on to the bathtub I want to cover ventilation really quick. If you don’t have a window in your bathroom (which I don’t) or you just want to keep the fumes from taking over your house, you’ll want to read this first. If not, you can scroll on past this section.

Ventilation Supplies

Duct fan
Duct vent hose
Plastic drop cloth
Peel and stick zipper (optional)

Vent Fan and Hose Setup

If you have a window you should stick a fan in front of it. If you don’t have a window, using a vent hose is the next best thing.

The fan has arrows on the side letting you know which way the air flows. You want to leave the end open that sucks in the air, attaching the hose to the end that pushes air out.

Make sure you get a hose long enough to reach your nearest window. The hose I used is 25 feet long, which was long enough to run from the hallway bathroom to my bedroom window. 

I cut a piece of cardboard to the width of the window to vent the fumes out of the window and keep them from blowing back in to the house. Then I cut a hole in the cardboard just big enough to fit the hose through.

I taped the hose in the cardboard then taped the cardboard against the open window.

Make sure to tape around the entire thing to keep the air from blowing back inside.

The last thing you need to create an airtight seal in your bathroom is to hang a plastic drop cloth from the doorway. Tape it off all around the doorway, just leaving the bottom open to run the hose underneath.

I added this peel and stick zipper to the drop cloth so I could easily come in and out of the bathroom without having to peel up the tape each time. It’s not necessary but made it a lot easier.

If you decide to go this route just make sure you use thick plastic. I used a 2 mil. drop cloth which was perfect. Anything too thin would likely rip when you put the zipper on.

Prepping The Bathtub For Paint

To make sure you get proper adhesion with this paint (or any bathtub resurfacing kit) you want to make sure your prep work is done thoroughly.

The very first thing you want to do is scrub your bathtub, getting it as clean as possible. I used comet and a scrub brush, cleaning the surface twice.

After cleaning your tub make sure to let it dry before moving on. Here’s what our tub looked like at that point.

(Our fixtures are in bad shape. I’ll be refinishing and making repairs to the fixtures in my next post, but for today I’m leaving them alone.)

Scrape And Clean The Surface

Using a razor with a protective handle, scrape off anything that is stuck to your tub that the scrub brush didn’t get. Hold the razor at an angle and just gently run it across the surface.

I had paint stuck on the outside walls of the shower. The razor removed the loose paint that would’ve caused issues with the Rustoleum paint being able to properly adhere to the tub surface.

Wipe away whatever you removed with the razor then clean the bathtub one more time.

I decided to use a stronger scum remover this time around, spraying down the surface then letting it sit for a few minutes before wiping everything down and rinsing it off. Let it dry.

Sanding The Bathtub

The surface needs to be de-glossed or roughed up before the paint will stick to it properly. To accomplish this you want to take a 120 grit sanding block and go over the entire surface.

Make sure to wear a mask when doing this since it does create a little dust.

Rinse the dust after sanding the tub then let it dry again for the last time.

Taping Off The Tub And Fixtures

To protect the surfaces around the bathtub you’ll want to run painters tape along the floor and walls.

You’ll also want to tape off around the edges of your fixtures and cover them with painters tape to keep the paint off of them.

When taping off the faucet it’s also a good idea to cover the actual faucet opening just in case it drips so the water doesn’t mess up the paint while it’s drying.

When taping off the drain you’ll want to cover the actual opening as well to keep the paint from getting inside or going down the drain.

To get a clean tape line around the circular drain you can use a box cutter or an exact-o knife to trim the tape off around the edge (Cut gently to avoid gauging your tub).

Wiping Down Tub With Tack Cloth

The very last thing you want to do before painting (finally!!!) is to take a tack cloth and wipe down the tub and shower. This is just to make sure there aren’t any specs of dust or dirt on the tub that will get stuck in the paint.

That’s a lot of prep work, right?! It really isn’t that bad and it’ll make the world of difference in the end.

Now we can paint!

Painting Your Bathtub

The Rustoleum Marine Topside Paint comes in 1 quart. After reading the reviews I decided to order 2.

A lot of people said they needed 1 1/2 quarts to finish the project so I figured it was better to be safe and have extra. I can always use the leftover paint on my next tub.

You also want to make sure you’re wearing a respirator and eye protection before you start painting. I ordered the respirator below along with the cartridges I linked.

They’re rated for fumes like this oil based paint and kept me from smelling a THING while I was working on this tub.

First Coat Application

Stir your paint well before pouring it in to your paint tray. You can use disposable paint trays to make cleanup easier.

Take your foam roller with a small amount of paint loaded on to it and start applying the paint to your shower, starting at the top of the walls (if you aren’t painting shower walls then just start at the top of your tub).

Work from the top down, applying a thin and even coat.

This paint is self leveling but any big paint runs or thick paint lines won’t disappear. You want to go over each section and smooth out any runs or lines as well as you can. Mistakes can be fixed with sand paper so it doesn’t have to be perfect, just do your best.

I noticed a slight textured look created by the roller but the paint did level out and the texture disappeared as the paint dried, leaving a nice and smooth finish.

When you get to the fixtures you want to use your paint brush to paint around the edges then go back in with your roller to paint the rest of the wall around them.

Continue around the tub, painting one wall at a time, working from the top to the bottom.

Use your paint brush to get in to the corners and any other nooks and crannies that the roller won’t fit in to before rolling out the rest of the surface around it.

When you get to the bathtub you want to do the same thing, working your way from the top to the bottom of the tub.

I found it best to start at the back and work my way towards the front.

The curved areas can be a little tricky. I had a little trouble with lines on the edge of the roller when going over those areas. I found that it helped to go back over the curves with very little pressure and without reloading the roller with paint. That took care of it.

This paint takes 24 hours to dry so once I was done with the first coat I walked away for the day.

This is what my bathtub looked like after the first coat.

By the way, it took me less than 30 minutes to apply the entire first coat! Not NEAR as long as I had thought it would take.

Prep Work Between Coats

To prep your tub for a second coat of paint you want to go over it with a 220 grit sanding block. This will give you better adhesion with your second coat of paint.

At this point you can also sand down any drip marks or lines in your paint if there’s anything you missed while applying the first coat.

After sanding you want to go back in with a tack cloth and thoroughly wipe everything down.

Second Coat Application

Applying the second coat is the same process as the first.

Once you’ve finished your second coat you can decide if you need a third coat or not.

My tub looked great after the second coat and the shower walls were about perfect, but the bottom of the tub still had a few stains showing through (old green paint stains from washing out a floor stencil).

You can’t really tell in these pics but up close and in person I could see them. I decided to repeat the steps, prep the tub and apply a third coat.

If you have a lot of stains you will likely need a 3rd coat, possibly even a 4th depending on how bad they are or how dark your bathtub was originally.

Before And After: How To Paint A Bathtub

With the 3rd coat dry my bathtub is done! And let me say, I’m SERIOUSLY impressed with the end results. My tub looks brand new, not painted.

This product was better than I thought it would be and exceeded my expectations, which were already pretty high.

This paint finish is a beautiful high gloss bright white (there are other colors available) and it looks and feels like a rock hard enamel once it’s dry.

I mean, just look at this side by side comparison. Isn’t the difference dramatic?!


The only downside is how AWFUL my fixtures are and they look even worse now up against that bright white (you’re next, fixtures!)

Check out the rest of the after photos below, along with a sneak peak of the fixtures after I refinished them! (That blog post will be up on the blog soon)

Thank you for following me!

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Bond Corp

    Thank you for sharing this informative article! All the information provided by you is really very helpful for all. I agreed that by using tack cloth you can keep your project dust-free and it is useful for cleaning fine dust off a surface and gives you a smooth finish. Everyone should follow the tips provided by you, it will make their work easier. Keep Posting! Keep Sharing!

  2. Chad

    This is great. Did you use white or semi-glossy?

    1. Cherie

      Thank you! So the way they list the colors is weird. The one that just says “white” is actually gloss white, then there’s the “simi-gloss white”. I used the one that says “white” that is actually a gloss finish.

  3. Charlotte

    Hey! Beautiful job and kudos to emphasizing how important the prep is. I just wanted to mention if you don’t already know that the paint you use offers a nonslip additive that can be mixed to make the tub surface safer. I haven’t yet used it. I live in the hot desert and didn’t have enough time to get started doing this same thing and spend a fortune on keeping the house cool while the window was open. Not to mention how miserable it would have been cause there’s no way the room would stay cool enough. If you could send me an update as to how well it’s held up I’d sure appreciate it! Nice work!!!!

    1. Cherie

      That is a great point and I meant to mention it so thank you for bringing it up! I do want to test out the nonslip additive, maybe when I do the next bathroom I will. So far it has held up really well, there isn’t any change in the tub frim day 1 to today. I will do an update post after about 6 months. Maybe you’ll get some cool weather soon and be able to tackle your tub, I know it’s hard to battle that hot desert weather! Thank you for the comment!

  4. Heather

    You’ve inspired me (and you make this look/seem easy)! The shower walls that I’m attempting have panels of laminate and are secured together with thin metal strips. Any knowledge or experience with this? Wondering if it would work to follow all of your steps but painting over the metal strips.

    1. Cherie

      I’m so glad to hear I’ve inspired you! I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any experience with the type of shower you have but I do know what you’re talking about. As far as this paint goes, I don’t remember seeing anything about it working on metal but you might double check the list the surfaces it’s suggested for. Personally, I would probably tape off the metal strips using painters tape (You can use an exact-o knife to trim the tape perfectly along the edges of the metal strips before painting the tub). After you’ve painted the tub and it’s cured you could tape off the tub around the metal strips and paint those using spray paint meant for metal surfaces if you feel like those need to be updated as well. I spray painted the fixtures in my tub since I didn’t want to pay to replace everything at this point and I used the Rustoleum paint + primer. I hope that helps, feel free to let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck, I hope yours turns out amazing!

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