Can You Paint a Bathtub?

The humble bathtub – a place where you can unwind with some relaxing bubbles and a glass of wine… or in my case a place where I can clean my muddy football boots. But have you ever considered that your bathtub is starting to look out of date? If so, you might’ve been thinking about buying a new one when it suddenly hit you – can I just paint it a different colour?!

With paint technology seeming to out-do itself every single year, it’s hard to find a surface these days that isn’t viable for a lick of paint. But does that viability stretch to bathtubs? That’s what we’re here to answer today.

Can you paint a bathtub?

Surprisingly, you can indeed paint a bathtub but it depends on what your bathtub is made of. If you have a cast iron bath or a bath made of acrylic then it’s perfectly OK to paint it. But truth be told, you’re best off purchasing a new tub as the paint is unlikely to last due to the temperature changes a bathtub is typically exposed to.

Why shouldn’t you paint a bathtub?

Whilst you can paint a bathtub, too many times we’ve seen paint systems fail to the point where you wonder why you even bothered. For that reason we’d advise against painting it and to simply purchase a new one.

Here’s some of the reasons NOT to paint a bathtub:

  1. As you’d expect, the surface of a bathtub can go from extremely hot to cold in a matter of minutes. As surfaces get hotter and colder they expand and contract. So what’s the issue here? As the surface gets bigger and smaller, the paint film of course does the same. Constant changes in size will stress the paint film and eventually can result in cracking.
  2. A bathtub is a high traffic area and thus the paint will be put under a lot of stress. If you don’t apply a super strong paint, the paint will simply rub off over time. You might be thinking “So what, I’ll just use a highly durable paint.” Well, the issue with this is that the more durable a paint is, the higher sheen it will have and this’ll ultimately look out of style and defeats the purpose of painting the bathtub in the first place.
  3. It takes a lot of expertise to achieve a good, durable finish so unless you’re a professional painter, chances are, you’re going to struggle to achieve the look you want.
  4. Interior paints are just not designed to be as waterproof as you’d need them to be when used on a bathtub.
  5. It takes a long time for bathtub paint to fully cure so you won’t be able to use it during this time.

How do you paint a bathtub?

If we’ve not already scared you off to your nearest Wickes to buy a new bathtub, there is one paint system we’d suggest to give you the best possible finish and the most durability.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 Fussy Blokes smooth mini roller
  • Masking tape
  • Dust sheets
  • BEDEC MSP satinwood paint
  • Cleaning products
  • 120 grade sand paper

Step 1: Prepare the area

To avoid getting paint everywhere, prepare the area you’ll be painting by placing dust sheets (or old curtains) on the floor. At this stage you’ll also want to open the door and window. Whilst BEDEC MSP is a water-based paint and thus has little odour, you’ll still want good ventilation.

Step 2: Clean thoroughly

Baths can typically be a dirtier object within the home so make sure you give the area you’ll be painting a thorough clean. Make sure you remove every last bit of dirt – if any grime is left behind it can affect the way the paint adheres to the surface.

 Step 3: Sand down

With 120 grade sand paper, sand down the surface of the bathtub. By doing this, it’ll make the surface that much easier for the paint to adhere to. It’ll also remove any last bits of grime that you might’ve missed during step 2.

Step 4: Wash down

Make sure the surface is completely dust free as again, this will impact how well the paint sticks to the surface. With that in mind, give it a wash with some warm water.

Step 5: Masking tape application

Once the bathtub is completely dry, you’ll want to mark out the area you’ll be painting with masking tape. The masking tape will help give you straight edges and ensure you don’t paint an area you didn’t want to.

Step 6: Roll the paint on

For DIYers painting a bathtub, we’d recommend using a smooth roller such as the ones manufactured by Two Fussy Blokes. Using a brush on an acrylic is going to be difficult when it comes to avoiding brush marks and can make the surface look a bit messy. Spray painting would leave a great finish but takes time to learn, not to mention the fact that you’d need to contend with the paint going everywhere.

So with your roller loaded up with paint, work in ‘M’ patterns until the surface is completely covered. It’s important to note that you should always make sure you’re not dry-rolling (rolling without any paint on the roller) as this could result in the roller picking up paint from the surface.

Step 7: Dry and re-coat

Once the first coat has dried, apply the final topcoat.

Step 8: Allow the paint to fully cure

There is an important caveat to note about BEDEC MSP paint which is that it takes around 30 days to fully cure. During this time, you essentially can’t touch it. So if you have a spare bathroom/ensuite that you can use during this time then you can go ahead and paint it. If not, it’s simply not practical to do.

Final words

Hopefully after reading this guide you’re armed with plenty of information and can come to your own conclusion as to whether it’s worth painting your bathtub or not. In our professional opinion, we’d avoid it for the plentiful reasons mentioned above.

Of course, if we haven’t scared you away, you can paint your bathtub but try to follow our step-by-step guide to give you the best chances of a long lasting and attractive looking finish.

Good luck!