How to Paint a Bathtub

It's a budget-friendly fix.

White, luxury home showcase bathroom with soaking tub and parquet hardwood floor
Caiaimage/Charlie DeanGetty Images

It goes without saying that a bathroom is one of the most vital spaces in a home. But what isn’t often mentioned, and what probably deserves a little more attention, is how expensive it can be to fix one up. According to findings collected by Home Advisor, the typical bathroom renovation costs between nearly $6,000 and $15,000, which covers expenses like creating more square footage, updating fixtures, and installing flooring. That’s quite a bit of money, even if a bathroom is indispensable.

But if you can’t shake those nagging thoughts that your bathroom could use some work, then don’t despair over the cost of a complete overhaul. One budget-friendly way to revamp this space—and one that also deserves more attention—is to paint a bathtub. Unlike other easy fixes, like changing drawer pulls or swapping out storage, painting a tub is an unexpected solution that can become a defining feature in your bathroom’s design.

Water running from bathroom faucet into white soaking tub
Caiaimage/Charlie DeanGetty Images

“If you want a quick upgrade without the cost of a full renovation, painting a tub can immediately change the look of a bathroom,” says Joey Corona a senior merchant of paint at The Home Depot. “Adding a fresh coat of paint to a tub could be just what an out-of-date space needs, especially since the tub is often positioned in a highly visible area of the bathroom.”

Corona knows that this project can seem intimidating at first, and that’s why he’s going to break down exactly what you need to know if you’re thinking about taking it on.

How to Get Started:

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Look for an epoxy-based paint. “From fiberglass, to porcelain, to ceramic, most types of tubs can be upgraded. However, achieving a high-gloss finish that sticks depends on your paint choice and the application,” Corona says. “Never pick a water-based paint or any interior paint, because both of these will inevitably crack and peel after a couple of hot bubble baths. Instead, choose a one-part or two-part epoxy kit—both will come with instructions.”

Fully sand and clean the tub beforehand. “This is crucial for ensuring that the paint adheres to the tub,” he continues.

Get a fan and open windows. “In addition to proper ventilation, wear a mask and gloves,” he adds.

What to Avoid as You Work:

Noticing a rough texture. “Not sanding enough or forgetting to remove dust can cause a tub to have a rough texture instead of a smooth surface,” Corona says. “When sanding down the tub, take the time to get every area, from around the fixtures and the drain to the sides and floor.”

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Before/After

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Creating a “tacky” bathtub: “Not allowing the paint to dry can produce a sticky feeling to the tub,” he continues. “To avoid this, make sure you give paint enough time to dry properly before applying another coat. This can also happen if care wasn’t taken when mixing the epoxy paint, so make sure to follow directions carefully.”

What to Do After You’re Finished:

Let the paint dry fully. “I recommend waiting between 12 and 24 hours before returning for a second coat,” Corona says. “Due to the drying time of epoxy paint between coats, the project should take around one to two days.”

Be patient. “That being said, wait at least three days—and if you can, more—before actually taking a bath,” he notes. “I’d also avoid taking a scalding hot bath for a while to let the epoxy cure. Impatient painters who draw a bath too early will be left with a wrinkled tub.”

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