Skip to content

Bathtub Painting | DIY vs. Pro – Which is Best?

Bathtub Painting DIY Homeowner

In this brief article we’ll compare and contrast DIY bathtub painting with a professional bathtub refinishing service. Find out which is best, and why.

Homeowners today are looking at ways to update their bathtub and tile while keeping an eye on overall costs. Bathtub painting is an option to consider along with professional bathtub refinishing. Big box stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s sell a DIY (do it yourself) kit for bathtub painting. These are typically a one part or two part marine grade epoxy paint for bathtubs that is applied to your current bathtub or wall tile surface.

DIY Bathtub Painting Kits

One main problem DIY users are having is getting it to look right after they are done. So they call us for solutions. The primary issue we identify is improper process. That’s not surprising since bathtub painting is a technical skill that requires training, special tools, and service experience. Of those with whom we speak, it turn out their problem is they are not etching the surface properly, or even at all.

It’s important when refinishing a bathtub that the technician (or DIY homeowner) performs an acid wash to open the pores in the porcelain or ceramic. Etching leaves micro-abrasions, so there is more depth and surface area for the bathtub paint to adhere.

Another issue we see is not wet sanding the acid dust away after an acid wash. This is important because the tub and tile paint will stick to the dust instead of get down into the surface. The result is an adhesion failure within three to six months. What that means is the tub paint will crack and peel off the surface.

Tub finish bubbling and peeling
Tub paint bubbling and peeling

We also hear of people brushing the tub paint on a little bit too thick. This can lead to an uneven surface. This includes ripples, bubbling, cracking, chipping, and peeling. Some of the things that DIY’ers tell us is they are surprised about how hard bathtub painting it is to do. And also how much work goes into prep and cleaning before, then care and clean up afterward.

How Long Bathtub Painting Lasts

One of the most common colors for tub paint is white. And when done right, while it’s still new, it looks nice. However, a white DIY bathtub painting epoxy that receives exposure to water and light tends to yellow over time. It also hardens and cracks as it ages. No amount of proper prep and application will solve this problem. It’s just the nature of DIY tub and tile paint.

Also, DIY bathtub painting kits have very strong fumes. In fact, so does professional tub refinishing chemicals. So it’s important to wear proper protective gear in order to prevent physical damage.

While white is the most common color, there are many colors to choose from. See our color change gallery for photos and examples of color options that other people enjoy.

Tub Painting Bottom Line

The bottom line is a DIY bathtub painting job can take a homeowner an entire day or two. Sometimes even longer when you consider all the time spent learning how to do it and looking for the right painting kit. Then if you’re correcting mistakes along the way add even more time. And what if it doesn’t come out the way you want? Do you strip it and start over?

Contrast Professional Bathtub Refinishing

In contrast to DIY bathtub painting projects, our professional bathtub refinishing team members take a different approach. We don’t use paint brushes as found in most DIY kits. We spray on the new surface coating.

Clawfoot Tub Spray On Refinishing

Additionally, our coating is of a much higher quality and grade than the DIY kits contain. Our coating is made specifically for professional bathtub refinishing and is much more durable and longer lasting than a DIY kit. Your new tub surface can last 15 years or longer with proper care and maintenance. In fact, we offer a three-year warranty with our tub and tile refinishing service because we are confident that our products and processes will make your tub look great for many years.

Tub Coatings

Surface Renew Refinishing Bathtub Blue to White

Our coating actually consists of two different chemicals that are applied with an HVLP spray system onto your bathtub. The first is an aerospace, epoxy primer. Unlike DIY kits, ours has a special blend in it that helps increase adhesion to the properly etched in sanded bathtub surface.

And since epoxy doesn’t hold up well to light and water exposure, we top coat it with the second chemical to protect it with a modified acrylic urethane. This is a tough yet flexible coating that looks just like ceramic tile or porcelain. It can be bright white almond or any color that you choose.

It is super easy to keep clean, which is a huge bonus above the DIY kits. Those are difficult to clean because the surface is soft and porous. Our top coat is hard and sealed similar to an original manufacture coating.

Pro Refinishing Bottom Line

Our process is tried and true with acid washing, etching, priming, and top coating. We don’t take any shortcuts. Many of our competitors are short-cutting two of these three steps and essentially just coming out and putting a top coat over your tub. There’s little difference in quality between their service and your DIY efforts. They don’t have the adhesion and durability needed to give you that longevity for your refinished bathtub. See our photo gallery for examples.


If you have any questions, would like more information, or get a price quote on refinishing your bathtub, then please contact us. Also check out our other services such as sink refinishing, wall tile refinishing, and kitchen countertop refinishing. Contact Surface Renew in Little Rock AR today to set time for an over the phone estimate or an exact quote onsite. Or ask us a question. And then we’ll reply ASAP with your answer and/or your custom price quote. We’re all about great customer service!

Surface Renew AR logo

Company: Surface Renew, Inc.
Arkansas Central Office: 501-920-9326
Arkansas Northwest Office: 479-226-0703

Connect on Social Media

Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Youtube