Porcelain Tub Chip Repair-Do you have a porcelain tub with an eyesore of a chip? A porcelain tub chip repair can easily be done with an expensive call to the repair guy, but did you know that you can make the repair yourself? Some of you may already have the necessary materials to make the repair and all you really need is the actual repair epoxy.
There are several different types of repair kits out there. Most are either a one part dripless epoxy that you use to coat and recoat until you fill in the chip or the two-part epoxy kind which consists of the paint and a hardener that is added to it then applied the same way as the one part type. Either one works fine, but the two-part epoxy should not be mixed until you are ready to use it.
Below are some simple step-by-step directions on how to best repair your porcelain tub chip.
1 – First, you want to clean the damaged area very well. Clean at least 5 – 6 inches of area around the chip. If the bathtub is going to be completely re-surfaced, you may as well clean the entire bathtub. The cleaning of the tub for a chip repair is the same as the cleaning for a complete re-surfacing. I have instructions on how to re-surface a porcelain bath tub as well. Check out how to do that in my categories tab on the sidebar. The chip must be repaired before the re-surfacing is done.
Clean the damaged area with a medium grade pad of steel wool and TSP (trisodium phosphate – a heavy duty, cleaning detergent). Make sure you get real TSP and not the new TSP substitute. The steel wool will etch the surface of the tub while the TSP cleans it.
2 – Rinse the area you scrubbed and the whole tub very well. You don’t want other dirt or debris landing on your work and ruining it. In fact, take everything out of the tub – shampoos, soaps, washcloths, etc. These can be accidentally knocked off onto to your finish and ruin it.
Once the tub has completely dried, and I mean completely dried – you can help it along by using a towel to dry it, then you can start applying the chip filler. Any moisture will keep the epoxy from curing properly so it is imperative that the tub is dry. That includes the top edges of the tub where a bit of standing water can suddenly roll down the edge and land right into your work area!
3 – You apply the filler one thin layer at a time. The stuff is usually self-leveling – even in vertical applications, as long as the layers you apply are thin. Read the instructions to your particular product for complete directions, but usually, you wait a few minutes (about 15 – 30 min) but not too long or you’ll lose the tackiness before applying a second layer if the chip is deep and needs a second layer.
4 – Once you have the chip filled, allow it to dry and cure for the amount of time your particular product requires – usually about 48 hrs. After that time, you can sand it flush gently and slowly with a super fine grade, pad of steel wool. That’s it. You are done with your porcelain tub chip repair. If you plan on resurfacing the tub after the chip repair, check out my instructions for that on the sidebar.
Refinishing Porcelain Tub
Today’s fiberglass bathtubs don’t stack up to yesterdays porcelain lined, cast iron tubs. They aren’t as sturdy, are easily scratched and stained and fiberglass tub resurfacing isn’t as effective as Refinishing Porcelain Tub. While you cannot actually perform porcelain reglazing, you can resurface it. Porcelain reglazing would require the tub to be re-coated with clay and then re-fired – a task that would be physically impossible to do without taking the tub out of the bathroom.
Some bathroom repairs can be pretty tricky or require skills and tools that are typically left to professionals, but Refinishing Porcelain Tub by resurfacing it is a feat that many do it yourselfers can attempt and succeed at. There are many tutorials out on the internet on how to repair a bathtub, but I have a few tips that will help you achieve results you can be proud of and will last much longer than the average resurfacing.
One of the first things you need to do that few people bother with is remove the old caulk. The old caulk needs to be taken out completely and any remaining pieces should be scraped and sanded off until no trace remains. If there are any slip resistant stickers or bath mats in the tub, they too need to be removed even if they are stuck on with glue. Scrape all traces of glue and remaining pieces until there is nothing but the tub surface exposed.
To clean the tub very well and roughen the surface so that it will accept the resurfacing finish, you need to scrub the tub with TSP (trisodium phosphate)using medium coarse, steel wool. There must not be any trace of grime, dirt oils or stuck on material left on the tub as these prevent the finish to adhere to the tub effectively. You don’t want your finish to start peeling, cracking or bubbling after just a few uses of the tub. The TSP is a strong, harsh cleaner so make sure you wear gloves to protect your hands. It will strip away the dirt and grime from your tub without having to use other cleaners. Make sure you use real TSP and not TSP substitutes. The steel wool will roughen the surface so that it has tooth to accept the coating without resisting it. Don’t just clean and resurface the inside of the tub.
For a professional finish, do the entire tub. This means that if your tub has a face exposed or is open all the way around, you need to clean all of the inside and outside that is exposed and refinish it all. If your tub has some rust stains left on from leaving cans or other things that left a stain on the tub, use a rust/lime remover on the stains before using the TSP to remove as much of the stains as possible. Be sure to rinse away all traces of the rust/lime remover and TSP before moving to the next step. Dry the tub very well. The coating will not cure well if it comes into contact with water.
You don’t want to get this stuff on anything other than the tub so you need to mask off any areas within close proximity of the tub to avoid contact with the coating. Lining the walls around the tub with painters plastic and placing a tarp on the floor nearby is a good idea. Turn the exhaust fan on when applying the coating as well, keep the door open and open windows nearby to allow for ventilation.
Some tubs may have chips that could be filled in before coating the tub. This in easy bathroom repair and can be achieved with an epoxy filler made especially for this. There are many types out there, so compare them and choose the one that’s right for you. Follow the application instructions for the product you choose. Most are relatively simple to use. Some require mixing two parts together, some are just one part. Some require puttying or brushing on and then you allow it to harden. You sand it down level and smooth and then you are ready to coat. Be sure to clean out any sanding dust before you start.
Preparing Your Coating
This is where the difference between the typical do it yourself job and the one that went the extra mile comes into play. Resurfacing bathtubs can be done with a long lasting, clean and professional looking job by using a cup gun. This is the small, handheld sprayer that delivers a fine mist of sprayed paint. You can use an airless or one for an air compressor. Please read the instructions for the use of your particular cup gun. There is a fill line that you really need to abide by. I use an epoxy paint when Refinishing Porcelain Tub. Epoxy paints have a lasting finishing that closely resembles the original porcelain and they have a nice shine to them as well. Fill your cup gun per your cup guns instructions with the epoxy paint of your choice and assemble it in preparation to use.
Before you begin spraying, you should test you sprayer on a piece of cardboard. A nice sized piece of about 2 x 2 should do. This allows you to adjust your spray pattern. You want it to be fine and even. You should also practice your spraying technique. Always moving in a seeping motion from side to side and continuing to move at least 12 inches even after you release the trigger. This helps to feather out the paint rather than leave a hard stopping line.
Once you’ve made your adjustments and have your technique down, you are ready to start. You will only lightly coat the tub. It will look uneven and splotchy, but trust me…as you build up the layers, it will even out and look fantastic. With your sprayer 6 – 8 inches away from the surface, begin spraying the wall of the tub closest to you starting at the top and then move on down that wall stopping at the edge of the bottom but do not paint the bottom of the tub yet. Next, do the top area around the rest of the tub but only do the tops. Once you have all of the top of the tub done move on to the sides doing one side at a time. Spray all the way to the bottom edge of the tub but do not spray the bottom of the tub yet. You may take the spraying a little past the bottom edge and into the bottom surface some, but not too far in. Spray in a side to side motion. Remember to continue moving the sprayer even after you let go of the trigger…this is very important.
Once the inside of the tub is lightly coated, allow it to tack up for about 15 minutes or whatever your coatings instructions advise you to. Reapply in the same manner 2 additional coats, always allowing for the tack up dry time. Now you can move on to spraying the outside of your tub following much the same manner as you did the inside.
Don’t try to make the job go faster but applying heavy coats. Heavy coats run! If this happens to you, continue on with the job and once it has all cured, then go back to your runs, sand them flush and re-spray a light coat or two to fix it. Don’t try to fix it in the middle of the job…you’ll only make it worse…a sticky, nightmare of a mess. Don’t try it. Don’t not listen to me twice.
Once completely sprayed, you need to just walk away and allow the tub to cure for at least 48 hrs or longer depending on your epoxy’s dry time. Don’t try to clean up or remove masking before it cures. If you do, you run the risk of tearing off the finish that may be stuck on the masking or dropping contaminants into the tub. Your tub needs this time to harden to an impermeable finish. If you allow water to come into contact with it before it is cured, it will muck up the finish and it may not dry at all or take even longer to dry. It will also cause flaking, peeling, chipping and bubbling. If you allow contaminants to come into contact with the tub while it is still wet or tacky, it will mar the finish. You don’t want a grainy or textured finish…you want a nice smooth finish. Smooth finishes repel dirt and grime.
Clean Up & Finishing
Once it is sufficiently cured, you can remove the masking tapes, plastics and papers. They should come off cleanly. Over sprays can be removed with a little solvent (whatever solvent is recommended for your epoxy) as long as it’s not on plastics or other surfaces damaged by the use of solvents. Sometimes a little scouring sponge (the kind with the mild plastic-like scouring surface) will remove overspray easily and without damage. Clean out your cup gun as per your instructions and store it away.
Now go ahead re-caulk all the cracks with a bathroom caulk. If the gaps are so wide that the caulking is not filling them in well, do the best you can, allow it to harden overnight and caulk again. Sometimes you just have to caulk two or three times to get the gaps right but it is worth it. Trying to fill in very wide cracks and gaps with just one application can get messy. You’ll get caulk every where and it won’t be smooth. Just caulk, smooth and caulk again after 24 hrs until you get it filled in completely. You’ll be glad you did when you see just how clean and smooth it turns out.
When cleaning your tub, try not to use strong cleaners, solvents or abrasives. They will wear away at your finish and you’ll have to do the job again before it should be due. Instead, use a scouring sponge like the one described above along with a gentler cleaner like liquid dish detergent. Old fashioned shaving cream is a surprisingly good cleaner. Not only does it clean gently but it does so well, and it also coats the tub with the glycerin it’s composed of which forms a barrier against future grime. This helps keep your tub cleaner longer.
Well there you have it. This is the best way to get your porcelain tub refinished so it looks like the pros did it and it will last a lot longer for you than a fiberglass tub refinishing.