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Painting a Bathtub and Tile: An Honest Review

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 16:48
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We recently traveled to Florida for a week, so I decided to try painting the tub and tile surround in our main bath before we left.


I read the instructions on the box, watched Rustoleum’s YouTube tutorial, and read a few posts by various bloggers who used the kit in their own homes. A few thoughts on my experience:

A proper respirator is an absolute MUST. I wore a spray paint respirator and used a fan to blow air out of the bathroom window while I was painting, and closed the door to the bathroom when I was done, including stuffing a towel around the gap to keep the smell from spreading through the upstairs. It still stunk. I’m so glad I did this before we left for vacation; I swear there was still a faint smell when we got back a week later. Obviously we had to keep our windows closed while we were away, so plan for a time of year that you can open your house or apartment up as much as possible to air out the fumes. 

I did the whole job (prep + painting + clean-up) in one day because we were going away, but I would definitely break it up over a couple of days if I could do it over again (one day for prep, and one day for painting and clean-up). I would highly recommend making arrangements to sleep over with family or friends the first night after painting, just because it’s so stinky.

The instructions on the box tell you to use a brush and NOT a roller, but they use a roller in the video so go figure. I saw a few other blog tutorials where a small foam roller was used, so I went that route, mostly because it’s so much faster than brushing everything (obviously you’ll still need a brush for edging and some spots around the inside of the tub).

It took two kits to cover my tub and tile. It’s a standard-size tub and surround, but the second kit was necessary to fully cover the pattern on our tile. If you’re painting a solid colour tile, I don’t think you’d have this problem (one kit would be enough), but keep in mind that depending on your tile pattern, it may take even more paint to get full coverage.
The instructions clearly state that prep work is everything, but I’ve also done quite a few DIY projects over the years and I’m confident that I followed the directions properly. I don’t know what went wrong, but for some reason in the drying process small divots formed in some places. It seems like an adhesion issue, but again I thought I cleaned and sanded thoroughly (though apparently not thoroughly enough). I didn’t use Rustoleum’s etching cream because it seemed like it would be really messy and even more expensive, but that’s something you may want to consider. The divots aren’t very noticeable, but if you’re a perfectionist (see: me) I think it’s important to know that the finish may not turn out perfectly, despite your best efforts. My husband likes to remind me that it looks SO much better than what we started with, and I agree, but it does bother me that the finish isn’t perfect.

{an extreme close-up of the divots in the finish}
We’ve been using the tub and shower regularly for a few weeks now, and the finish feels very strong. I know a couple of people who’ve had their tub/tile professionally painted, so I know it will chip with use over time, but I’m very impressed with the strength of the finish. I’m sure that having a full week to cure helped. The picture below is my new view while showering; I love how bright and clean it feels now.

So, would I do it again? Yes. Would I recommend it to others? It depends. Given the amount of effort involved and the cost, I think it’s a good option if you HATE your current tub and/or tile, but aren’t ready to renovate yet (I don’t think it’s a long-term solution, but it could buy you a few years with the occasional touch-up). That said, if you think you can live with the look of your tub and/or tile by painting the walls, getting a new shower curtain, or even updating your flooring, I would absolutely go that route.

Hopefully this information helps, and feel free to email me if you have additional questions or want more details on my experience.


Oh, and you may have noticed that I changed the wall colour in here. As much as I love Behr’s ‘Silver Shadow’ in our playroom, it read as blue in the bathroom and never really grew on me. Now the walls are white (CIL’s ‘White on White’) and I’m much happier.

Read more at House Pretty


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