Results are mixed on refinishing a porcelain-on-iron bathtub or sink yourself. Refinishing tubs and sinks is a cost-effective and inexpensive way to make porcelain surfaces look like new after years of use. It’s the more practical way to restore a built-in bathtub, as well as the dream method to give a claw-foot tub or cast-iron sink the new look it’s needed for years, without compromising durability.
Refinishing is a long process that takes a variety of steps. First you need to clean the sink or tub of any of dirt or grime that’s built up over time. Using household cleaning chemicals, remove all dirt. For all tubs, get rid of any soap scum that’s in there. Then you will remove the caulk and drain cover with a putty knife. Fill in chips or cracks with fiberglass putty and sand the entire surface to make it smooth. Put down a bonding agent as the first layer. Then apply the primer and paint, putting down two coats of each with a drying period of 30 minutes in between each layer. Then you will apply three levels of acrylic polymer topcoat, with the same time for drying in between each coat.
If in doubt about doing the project yourself, call in professional refinishers and ask for references. Be sure to visit those references and ask how long the finish has been in place. It’s important to know what their experiences are since the project will cost you between $300 and $1,000, and you do not want to have it done more than once. Color will also have a factor in the price, because some are easier to do than others in a refinishing project. Two-color projects will also cost more than one-color projects.
While porcelain, fiberglass and cast-iron tubs and sinks can be refinished, pitted and really rough surfaces should not be resurfaced because they will be bumpy and look bad at the end of the project. It will be better to replace the tub or sink such cases.
For more tips on how you can complete the entire process yourself, please see How To Refinish (Reglaze) A Bathtub.