Our bathroom is 1950’s mint green. The tiles are mint green, the sink is mint green, the bathtub is mint green. Or was. It was too much. Walking into the bathroom was like walking into a sea of mint green. If you’ve been in a vintage 1950’s bathroom, you know what I mean. I wish I had before pictures to show you.

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Refinishing a colored bathtub

Here’s the bathroom now. The tub matched the tile walls almost exactly.

The Plan

I wanted the bathtub to be white. I first learned that refinishing a bathtub is possible on the blog Raising Hope. I researched more into the Rust-Oleum Tub and Tile Refinishing kit and found tons of positive reviews on blogs. I found the product on Amazon, again with great reviews, and decided to give it a try.

The epoxy takes 3 days to dry before it can get wet. Since our bathtub is also the only shower in our house, I knew I would need to apply it right before we left on a vacation. There is no way we could live without showering for 3 days. Our next family trip was coming up, so I planned to prep during the week, and paint the bathtub the morning before we left.

In the meantime, I watched tons of YouTube videos, and read what I could on refinishing a bathtub. The Amazon reviews had lots of helpful tips, mostly about how important it is to prep the bathtub before painting.


The work

I spent a few days before painting preparing the tub. I washed and scrubbed and cleaned and sanded. We had a few rust spots inside the bathtub, so I especially worked on those. I removed the calking around the tub. The morning of, I gave it one final clean and dry, then set to work on painting.

For an epoxy, you mix two liquids together to start a chemical reaction that eventually hardens the epoxy into a nice coating. So, following the directions, I poured one can of liquid into the other can of liquid. That was my first mistake. Covering a green bathtub takes more than two coats of epoxy, and you can only paint two coats at a time. I should have poured half of each liquid into a separate container and saved the remaining chemicals in their cans for later.

The first coat went on very thin and very transparent. It looked like school glue, very see-through. It did go on smoothly and was self-leveling, which meant no bumps or bubbles. I waited the directed hour, and started the second coat. This one was definitely thicker and whiter, but still a lot of the green of the tub showed through. This was when I started to panic.

Refinishing a colored bathtub

Some of the green still shows through, even after a very think third coat.

The bathtub obviously needed another coat of epoxy. The directions stated that if you need to do a third coat, wait 24 hours after the second coat. We needed to leave on our family trip. I panicked. I should have ended with the second coat, left on our trip, and lived with a half finished bathtub until I could order more epoxy and take the time to do a third and possibly fourth coat correctly. I didn’t. I made my second mistake.

An hour after the second coat, I applied a very thick third coat. It definitely covered the green bathtub color. But it was so thick that it didn’t smooth out well. Even now, there are bush lines and small bubbles in the dried epoxy.

Refinishing a bathtub

In the light, you can see some of the bubble and brush lines

Looking Back

It was crazy to do a project this big they day we left on vacation. Getting everyone and everything ready for a family trip is enough work and stress without adding a major home project the same morning. But I still don’t know how we could have done it any differently. We used that bathtub daily.

Refinishing a colored bathtubAs for my misguided third coat, what now? I can’t turn back time, so regret doesn’t help. Right now, I try not to look too closely at my bathtub. Eventually, I will sand down the flaws in the epoxy until I have a smooth, somewhat green, surface. Then I will apply another coat or two of epoxy. I will use the Rust-Oleum Tub and Tile Refinishing kit again because, despite the incomplete directions, it has held up well. I will do this one day when I have figured out how to not use the shower for 3 days.
How to refinish a bathtub with Rust'Oleum Tub and Tile | tips for refinishing a bathtub, bathroom sink, or countertop with epoxy

Update: I’ve had several readers ask how well the finish on my bathtub with Rust-Oleum Tub and Tile epoxy is doing now that we’ve been living with it for a few years. So I wrote a post about the bathtub three years later and a fix for a problem that happened with it. Click here to read about how my bathtub is holding up 3 years later.