Stripping Refinished Tub: How To Tutorial On Removing Old Reglazing Coating On Your Bathtub.Recently I got an email asking how to strip the coating off a tub that was peeling from being done incorrectly. After responding, I thought there might be others who could use this information, so here you go. Stripping refinished bathtub.
Whether you are trying to save some money, instead on paying a bathtub refinishing contractor to strip your refinished tub. Or your doing a DIY kit and need to remove the old tub coating first. I’ll go over this step by step.
Be advised this is not something to be taken lightly. The chemicals used can burn you and every year some knuckle head refinisher kills themselves by not using the proper safety gear, passes out, face first into the tub and paint stripper.
Yes it will be a closed casket with your melted face not looking so pretty.
* NOTE Do not try and strip a fiberglass tub or surround, the commercial grade paint stripper will melt the gel coat or acrylic surfaces. If I need to strip one of these I use an orbital sander and using 80 grit to remove the bulk and then 180 to finish.
There are fiberglass acrylic safe strippers, but they can take 12 to 24 hours to work.
With that said, Here is a laundry list of supplies and instructions.
- You’ll need a 3M disposable respirator they come in small med and large $18 or so.
- Eye protection.
- Roll of Duct tape.
- 13 gallon trash bags.
- 6 mill plastic.
- Orange cleaner.
- Zud or Ajax.
- 180 and 80 grit sandpaper.
- Couple of scuff or scrub pads.
- A long handled 4″ razor scraper for tough jobs.
- A 1″ razor scraper.
- A 3″ brush or polypropylene toilet mop to spread the stripper.
- 6″ taping knife to scrap and collect the coating.
- Heavy duty chemical gloves 8 mills thick or better.
- Heavy duty 6 mill plastic to protect the floor.
- At the minimun Box fan for ventilation.
Stripping refinished bathtub: First lets protect the surrounding area. This is especially important if you have an acrylic wall surround or wood, vinyl flooring.
Remove any caulking around the perimeter of the tub and clean and dry thoroughly so your tape will stick. Apply your Duct tape to the perimeter and tape down some heavy plastic to the floor.
If you have wood, vinyl or acrylic products to protect, apply a second layer of tape and two rows high around the tub.
If you’re stripping the finish off a clawfoot tub you’ll want to get plastic all around and under the clawfoot.
Remove your overflow plate and stuff your drain and overflow hole with some balled up paper towels to keep the mess out of your plumbing.
* NOTE: Before stripping a bathtub set up your box fan to blow fresh air into the room. DO NOT attempt to use paint stripper without using a respirator under any condition.
Stripping refinished bathtub: Using the brush or toilet cleaning mop, spread the paint stripper around the tub. It may take several hours for the stripping agent to attack the coating to scrap off and in some cases only softens the coating enough so it can be scrapped off with a razor blade. Never hurts to test a small area to see what you are up against.
When adding the stripping agent to the tub skirt be mindful not to let the stripper go past your tape line or your shoes will get into the mess and not only track it through out your home, but will also damage wood flooring.
Stripping refinished bathtub: Once the coating has bubbled and lifted use the 6″ taping knife to remove the coating.
Even thou you have gloves on stay out of the stripping agent and don’t let the tools get the handles coated. You’ll just spread the stripper all over the place. Act as if you don’t have any gloves on.
Should you have a quality coating on your tub, it may not lift, but will soften enough to use the (Optional) 4″ long handled razor scrapper. And the 1″ razor scrapper in the turns and corners. You may need to finish with the sandpaper once the stripping agent has been removed to completely remove the coating.
If the tub has been done with multiple coatings, you may need to remove each coating separately and apply more paint stripper as needed.
When removing the coating on the tubs outside skirt, collect it quickly and drop into the tubs bottom for collection after you’ve finished. The vapors can penetrate the plastic and damage stuff. Be mindful not to get the toe of your shoes in this as well. I recommend you clean up the lifted coating from the tub skirt and rail first, so as not to get your arm burnt while reaching over the tub to collect the material from the tubs bottom.
Stripping refinished bathtub: Once you’re happy you got the majority of the old tub coating removed and collected to one side.
Place a 2’x2′ piece of plastic on the tubs bottom on the other side and using the 6″ taping knife collect the mess and drop into the center of the plastic. Pick up the plastic at all four corners and drop into a trash bag and double bag it.
This needs to be removed from the home ASAP and dispose in the garbage. It will dry out over several days and not be a problem.
DO NOT set this down as the vapors WILL penetrate and damage what ever you set it on. Only unpainted cement or ceramic tile will be unaffected.
Stripping refinished bathtub: Rinse,clean and dry the tub, should you still have some remaining coating left on the surface, use the 80 grit sandpaper to complete the job.
Use great care in keeping the stripping agent confined to the taped off area.
Some addition Tips and Advise For Stripping Refinished Bathtub.
You may want to strip the outside tub skirt and tub rail first. Clean up and then do the inside so you don’t accidentally get your belly or arm touching the stripping agent when leaning over the tub.
Again, If being done over or around acrylic surround, vinyl or wood flooring you should double up on tape and plastic and don’t allow the stripper to lay on the plastic for very long as the vapors can penetrate and melt the floor.
Paint strippers come in different grades. You’ll want a polyurethane or epoxy paint stripper. The products at the home centers tend to be homeowner grade. And may work just fine on a poorly done refinishing. These won’t work on a quality job such as trying to remove our coatings.
If you need a professional grade stripper, try going to a Sherwin Williams or any place that services painting contractors and tell them you’re trying to strip off a 2 component epoxy or polyurethane coating. It will probably be labeled as an Aircraft or Marine stripper you’ll need at least 1/2 gallon to one gallon. 1 gallon of professional grade will cost $32 to $36 or so. Stripper is sold in quart or gallon sizes
- Do be careful, this can be dangerous.
- Provide good ventilation, big box fan to help clear the air.
- Don’t get any stripper on you as it will give you a nasty chemical burn.
- Do wear your respirator and eye protection, as the Methyl Ethyl Chloride in the stripper WILL knock you out and can be lethal.
Now you know why we charge $120 to $150 depending on the size of the tub, to provide this service. The materials, safety gear and 1 to 1 1/2 hours of labor.
Steve Drake I wish I had know this before getting my tub done a few months ago. The contractor didn’t strip and tub started peeling with in weeks. Now I know why. Paul what is the typical charge to have the junk on my tub removed by stripping? I need to find a legit contractor in Kansas.
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