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Bathroom How-To

Tips From the Pros on Painting Bathtubs and Tile (page 1 of 2)

Do you have an olive green or baby blue bathtub? Thinking about painting it? Before you do, check the what options are available.

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Courtesy of JOE MARTINEZ JR.

Does your cherub-pink 1950s bathtub give you nightmares? Mint-green tile surround got you down? If your bathroom tub and tile are in sound condition but simply need an aesthetic makeover, you might be considering repainting or refinishing them yourself. But make sure you know all your options before you pick up that spray gun.

“It really depends on what your long-term goals are,” says Bath Crashers contractor Ryan Prosser, owner of Prosser Construction in Plymouth, Minnesota. “Repainting tile yourself is not a project that will improve your home’s resale value.” Some meticulous homeowners can do an adequate job, Prosser says, but he can always spot a DIY fix vs. one done by a professional.

“Obviously, I’m a bath contractor and I would love to come and rip out your tile,” Prosser says, “but I’m a big believer in saving your money until you can do what you want. Personally, if I can’t buy the best, I just wait.”

But if you can’t stomach the idea of a full-on bathroom remodel—or you want to tone down that electric-blue surround until you can afford the bathroom of your dreams—here are your options:

Before

After

Courtesy of Miracle Method

Call in a professional refinisher

A professional tub and tile refinisher can evaluate whether your tile can be rejuvenated rather than replaced. “If it’s in good shape, refinishing is really worth your while, in terms of both cost and the environment,” says Chuck Pistor, president of Miracle Method [LINK: miraclemethod.com], a franchise-based bath and kitchen refinishing company. “We tell people it’s ‘recycling in place’—it keeps all those construction materials out of the landfill. And it costs far less than remodeling.”

Depending on the surface area to be refinished and the amount of repair that’s necessary, a typical tub and tile refinishing job might cost about $1000, Pistor says.

What do you get for the price tag?

  • Better results. Pros are highly trained, and they have access to better materials than you can't get at a big-box store. Miracle Method, for example, uses a blend of fast-drying acrylic resins that bond tightly with the tile surface. Epoxies designed for home use do not bond as strongly, so they won’t last as long — they’ll likely need touching up or redoing in a year or two. (Miracle Method guarantees its results for five years, although Pistor says that a life expectancy of 15–20 years is more typical.) Epoxies also take longer to dry and turn yellow over time.
  • More color choices. Home kits are typically limited to basic tones—bisques, whites, and sometimes tints —whereas professionals can give you limitless custom color options.
  • A shorter time frame for the job. With a pro, you’ll have less down time without your bathroom. Miracle Method typically takes two days to complete a job, and you can use the surface within 24 hours. Unless you’re a refinishing whiz, home kits will probably take you longer than that to prep and apply , and they require 72 hours to cure at an absolute minimum.
  • Safety. Pros have the proper equipment to reduce your exposure to chemical vapors.

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