Answers to questions most
frequently asked by clients:
Bathtub Refinishing Facts

Under what circumstances should I consider fixture refinishing?

  • Color Change Bathtub Refinishing Fact No. 1: If you’re just plain tired of your current bathtub, shower, or sink color, Affordable Refinishing can change its color to virtually any color you can imagine, including color matching other elements of your bathroom or other area.
  • Damage Bathtub Refinishing Fact No. 2: If your fixture is chipped, scratched, or even fire-damaged, Affordable Refinishing can repair the damage and make the surface of your bathtub, shower, or sink look like new again. Affordable Refinishing can also refinish fixtures in abandoned properties that have been badly abused or neglected.
  • Aging Bathtub Refinishing Fact No. 3: If your fixture no longer sparkles and has become difficult to clean because of years of use, Affordable Refinishing can make it sparkle again. This may be especially important if you have an antique, such as a clawfoot tub, that you’d like to save instead of replace.

Why should I refinish instead of just replacing my fixture?

The average porcelain tub can be replaced for $2,500 or refinished for $395. Refinishing will create the same “like new” appearance that replacing will, without the aggravation of tearing up your entire bathroom, for a lot less money.

And, better than a new installation, you can choose virtually any color that exists, whereas a new installation will be limited to manufacturer’s color offerings.

Why wouldn’t you refinish your bathtub?

But won’t my bathtub, shower, or sink look “refinished”?

Actually, no, it won’t. Whether your bathtub, shower, or sink is chipped, scratched, or in need of a color change, it’ll look brand new. Only another professional refinisher would ever know that it was fixed or that the color was changed.

Can a surface that’s been refinished before be refinished again?

Yes, bathtubs, showers, sinks, and tiles, can all be refinished again and again. Since the surface is stripped before being refinished, the old coating will be removed.

But I get a one-year warranty with a new bathtub, shower, or sink.

Affordable Refinishing provides a 5-year warranty against defects in materials and/or workmanship, in writing.

Doesn’t a refinished fixture require special care?

In a word, no.

However, while the new surface can withstand the likes of lye and bleach, we never recommend that you use abrasive cleaners, such as Ajax®, Comet®, Bar Keeper’s Friend®, and Regular Soft Scrub®, on your bathtubs, showers, and sinks, regardless of whether they’re new or refinished.

In order to maintain the shine of your newly refinished surface, Affordable Refinishing recommends a simple, natural cleaner that gets the job done. Liquid or aerosol bathroom cleaners, such as Mr. Clean®, Dow Bathroom Cleaner®, Lysol®, Liquid Comet®, and Simple Green®, are excellent choices. The cleaner you choose shouldn’t have any abrasives or strong acid such as hydrofluoric or hydrochloric.

Also, you shouldn’t use a rubber bath mat. If you’re concerned about slipping, you should use the adhesive strips sold at most department and hardware stores or the newer kind of mat that’s made of soft foam material.

What’s involved in the refinishing process?

Every job is different, however, there are some basic procedures that apply. The four basic steps are:

  • First: Surface preparation

    The caulking and trim work that can easily be removed is set aside. The surface is cleaned with a special cleaner, then an acid solution is used to etch porcelain to make the surface very porous. Sanding to abrade is done next, and the surface is cleaned and rinsed again. Air pressure is used to completely dry the surface. A high quality filler material is used to fill any chips or damaged areas and then sanded smooth.

  • Second: Masking and final surface preparation

    The entire area is masked off with professional grade paper and tape to protect the adjacent areas from the spray operation. This looks like a spray booth or a “clean room.” A chemical bonding agent is applied. This is an adhesion promoter that will cause a bond at the molecular level, a “covalent bond” where the surfaces will actually share an electron! It is an amazing chemical that really works. Then the surface is cleaned with tack cloths.

  • Third: Refinishing material is applied

    Multiple layers of refinishing material are applied using high volume, low pressure spray equipment. This equipment is high technology and will not create air pollution through the atomizing of finish material under high pressure. Dust and fumes are evacuated with either one of two types of exhaust fans, depending on whether there is a window present in the room or in an adjacent room.

  • Fourth: Caulking

    Caulking is applied on the same visit after the coating sets-up.

That sounds complicated. How long does it take?

From start to finish:

  • Standard and antique bathtubs require between 3 and 4 hours
  • Fiberglass showers require between 4 and 5 hours
  • Small jobs, such as sinks and shower pans, require between 2 and 4 hours

Once Affordable Refinishing has completed the job, the surface must “cure” – dry and harden – for 48 hours.

That’s it!

Is etching really necessary?

Etching your bathtub with an acid solution is very important. Here’s why:

  • Your bathtub:

    Your cast iron or steel bathtub is basically a metal shell with glass baked on at high temperature. Yes, it’s glass, and not much different than the glasses in your cupboard or the glass on your windows. Glass is very hard and by nature non-porous. This makes it ideal for bathtubs and sinks as they are sanitary and things don’t stick. This is also the problem: A new surface won’t stick to it either. This original surface must be changed so a new surface will adhere properly.

  • Refinishing:

    The refinishing of your bathtub requires using a material that is applied over the top of the existing bathtub. To make this work and last a long time this material must adhere properly. Our refinishing material is very sticky, it wants to adhere but it needs the proper surface to adhere permanently. It must become part of the bathtub, not just lying over the top.

  • Preparing the bathtub surface:

    The original bathtub surface must be prepared properly for your new surface to adhere. There are several ways to do this: It can be abraded with sandpaper (which takes forever and doesn’t really work well), or a bonding agent can be used (this is very helpful but not a complete solution to the problem), or you can etch the surface. Etching the bathtub “breaks open” the hard shiny surface and creates millions of microscopic pits. This gives the new surface a firm grip or a ‘mechanical bond’ where the new material is physically attached to the original surface.

  • Our process:

    The process Affordable Refinishing uses is derived from many years of experience. In preparing the original surface, we use all of the methods mentioned above: Your surface is cleaned, then etched, washed, dried, and sanded. Before the new refinishing material is applied, a chemical bonding agent is also applied to promote a “covalent bond.” The combination of these procedures gives the new coating the optimal surface for adhesion. It works and it is permanent.

I’ve heard that acid etching isn’t safe – is it?

Yes. However, as with all chemicals, it depends on safe handling and proper use. The acid Affordable Refinishing uses is so diluted (about 4 to 5 percent acid) that it is just strong enough to etch the surface slightly. It doesn’t “smoke” when it is applied and only enough is used to get the job done (about 2 or 3 ounces). The etch solution is carefully applied and then completely rinsed off. Affordable Refinishing uses proper safety procedures, including the use of chemical gloves, goggles, respirators, and ventilation equipment. The etching process is contained and safe. The type of acid Affordable Refinishing uses is also contained in cleaning agents you can buy at the store, so it’s a common household chemical.

What product will you use on my bathtub, shower, and sink?

Affordable Refinishing uses a unique thermosetting coating which combines the best properties of acrylic and urethane. It results in a hard glossy finish that doesn’t turn yellow, is chemical and abrasion resistant, and will not peel or blister.

This durable coating, which has been tested in lye, mineral spirits, gasoline, fuel oil, hydraulic fluid, alcohol, and bleach, offers:

  • Outstanding high gloss retention
  • Excellent resistance to yellowing
  • Impervious to acids, alkali, solvents, oil and other chemicals
  • Excellent adhesion
  • Completely washable with strong detergents
  • Excellent color retention
  • Provides a high gloss tile-like finish
  • Any color can be applied or matched to suit
  • Contains no free isocyanides*
  • Meets specifications and approval of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for use in food plants
  • Meets specifications of the American National Standard Institute(A112.19.1-73) for porcelain
  • Meets American Society of Testing Materials standards for porcelain and for abrasion and acid resistance (Standard E-11-70 and Standard C-292-67)

*This is important because free isocyanides will ‘off-gas’ or release from a coating for months and are very toxic.

The product Affordable Refinishing uses self-cures under normal room temperature, is self-leveling, has the look and feel of natural porcelain and is very stable. It will not fade, yellow or oxidize as an epoxy or polyurethane (which contains free isocyanides) will. Epoxy and polyurethane will, eventually, become brittle.

You should be aware that some refinishers use epoxy or car paint, which wasn’t created for bathtub, shower, and sink refinishing, and, as a result, they’ll give you just a one- or two-year warranty.

What is the difference between bathtub refinishing and a liner?

Unlike Affordable Refinishing‘s refinishing process, which is done on-site and in one day, bathtub liners are manufactured off-site as one-piece, heat-molded units that are inserted over your original bathtub or shower surface and then “glued” in place with adhesive caulk. Bathtub liners leave spaces between the liner and the original surface where moisture can condense and stagnate. Cracks in the liner can occur, allowing water to get between the tubs and create problems. With Affordable Refinishing‘s process, the new finish, through a molecular bonding action, becomes a permanent part of the old fixture.

How should I prepare for my appointment with Affordable Refinishing?

Perform any maintenance, such as repairing leaky faucets or installing new drain ring. Both of these tasks should be done by a licensed plumber. Remove soap, shampoo bottles, rugs, towels, and curtains.

What area does Affordable Refinishing service?

  • Baltimore City and County
  • Carroll County
  • Howard County

Still have questions?

Call (410) 916-0400 today or click here to send a question directly to Vince, owner of Affordable Refinishing.