Is painting a bathtub that hard? Do professionals use the same epoxy kits?
There are so many questions and very few answers when It comes to bathtub and Tile Refinishing. I have professionally completed hundreds of bathtub and tile refinishing in Dallas Texas over the last 25 years. The coating of choice has changed during that time as technology has improved.
The honest truth is there are still many people that simply paint bathtubs. That was what they were taught to do throughout the 1990’s and I have learned that a lot of people want to blame other situations for any problem. Epoxy paint will look pretty good when it is first applied. Although it will have an orange peel look which is why some people will say it looks “Painted”. Then when the resident cleans the tub with any product that contains bleach it will yellow. The end result is It will peel. Most of the times sooner rather than later but it will peel. Why? Because it is painted on top of the old surface. That old surface is baked hard and slick as glass, when we are talking about porcelain bathtubs and tile.
There are a Handful of bathtub and tile refinishing professionals in the Dallas area that will complete the refinishing job correctly and complete it without using Epoxy. The process I use is a synergistic one that combines a chemical rinse to remove oils and residue we may not even see with the naked eye. Then I use an etching stone on a mechanical tool that gently etches the hardened glaze at 1500 revolutions per minute. I will then use a lint free rag to clean everything with a deglossing and cleaning agent. This part is nothing special and this chemical is available from any home improvement store (I mention this because I want honesty and transparency) I am not trying to make anyone think I use a miracle product that no one else on earth has the Ability to purchase. I am saying the opposite, why am I still seeing this inferior epoxy paint used? My only guess would be it is cheap. Epoxy can be purchased for about $60/gallon. Lets just round that up and say $100 per Gallon. Then it is thinned with lacquer thinner at $17/gallon. The epoxy kits are so full of lacquer thinner they run (this is why they are called self leveling). I guess self leveling is a synonym for diluted down, inferior product in some alternate universe! Speaking of synonyms the word refinishing, well look at why these kits are able to use that as a marketing term(below).
So painting is technically refinishing. Although any of the legitimate bathtub refinishing professionals would argue this and say no not when it comes to what we call refinishing. We are taking steps to integrate the new surface into the old, not painted on top of the old! We are spending hours preparing a surface by etching, then using molecular bonding agents so the new surface penetrates the old surface and is chemically welded into that old surface. The new surface that I use is polyceramic glass glaze (A.K.A. Synthetic Porcelain). This is a professional coating that is part of the synergistic process to make sure your bathtub and Tile finish will last an expected 20+ years if cleaned properly. When I say cleaned properly I mean not cleaned with a heavy abrasive such as comet or sos. Scrubbing bubbles is an excellent cleaning agent and will clean and sanitize without stripping away the glaze and this is great advice for new tubs and tile also. I would say that over 90% of the refinishing needed is because of improper cleaning that wears away the glaze and damages the surface a tiny bit at a time that will appear as dirt, then the resident will scrub more and more thinking they are scrubbing away the dirt but actually causing more and more abrasions.