Our experience using tub and tile spray paint to refinish our old ceramic tile bath surround.
Last week we went on vacation, and, as promised, decided to use tub and tile spray paint to refinish our ugly dark green ceramic tub surround before we left. The timing was important- we only have one full bath, and the paint has to cure for a few days after use, plus the fumes on this stuff are awful, so we wanted to time it for when we would be gone for a few days.
Here’s a before:
I just can’t believe that someone would have intentionally chosen that tile for this small, windowless room. And, it covered the floor in here when we moved in as well, until we covered it with faux marble peel and stick vinyl.
So why tub and tile spray paint instead of roll on? A couple of reasons. First, I used the roll on version on our kitchen sink when we moved in a couple of years ago and it looks pretty terrible now- the paint is peeling and chipping badly. We were curious to see if the spray paint would last a little longer. Plus, we knew that with the timing issues we would have with my work schedule and leaving for vacation, I wouldn’t be able to be the one actually applied the paint, and Michael always prefers spray paint to rolling. So we ordered 6 cans of the Rust-Oleum Specialty Tub and Tile Refinishing Kit (affiliate links in this post).
Michael is not a blogger, and there was no chance at all of him taking pictures throughout the prepping/spraying process while I was off at work, but prep involved cleaning with Comet, then he used steel wool all over the entire surface. Let me just say, Michael is also not a prepper, so while I would likely have spent most of the day agonizing over cleaning and sanding, he flew through that part in about an hour.
That may bite us in the tail later.
About 6 cans and one hour later…half the surround was done. The spray paint goes on very watery. Even Michael, who loves him some spray paint, was frustrated.
Part of the issue with the paint not going very far might be that our tile is very pitted and the grout lines are huge. There is just a lot more surface area to cover, and the grout sucked that paint up like a vanilla milkshake.
So we ordered 6 more cans while we were on vacation, and as soon as we returned, Michael got back to work. And we spent a few days without showering and with a lot of outside time. Thank heavens we had a few more days before we had to go back to work. #truth #sinkbaths
Four coats later, this is the end result:
Yeah, it’s not great. But I do think it’s a million times better than it was before.
As always, I’m going to share my honest opinions about this stuff, and some tips and tricks if you’re planning to use tub and tile spray paint in the future:
Cons of tub and tile spray paint
- The coverage is not good. After four coats, we could probably use about four more. Even then, though, I’m not sure that more coats would make a difference with coverage. I think it just doesn’t apply evenly. Michael is a very experienced spray painter, and even he had difficulty with this project.
- The fumes really are terrible- plan on several days of not being able to inhabit your house in the area that you are painting.
- Not sure how cost effective this is since it takes so many coats.
- Our tub looks kind of dingy next to the bright white now.
- The dust from this stuff gets everywhere. I mean everywhere. Even with the door closed while Michael painted, it was down our hall and all over the bathroom. Clean up was not difficult per se, but it did take awhile.
Pros of tub and tile spray paint
Even though the coverage is not great, the change is dramatic. Our entire bathroom feels completely different now! And it is an entirely different experience to take a shower in that light and bright space!
Tips for tub and tile spray paint
- Pay attention to how many cans you need to order for coverage. Michael and I guesstimated because we didn’t see on the website how much was needed- but now I see that a standard bathtub takes 5-7 cans. Knowing that, we probably should have ordered about 15 cans
- You absolutely will need a respirator, not just a face mask, because of the fumes. This is the one that we have been using for years, and it works great.
- Make sure that you tape up your edges, then tape some more. Then cover everything. Because the dust from the paint will get on everything. Anticipate a lot of clean up.
- Be aware that the bright white color makes imperfections in the tile much more noticeable. I am all of a sudden noticing all kinds of stuff that I never saw before in the dark tile! It doesn’t bother me that much, but still.
- If you are planning to do this project, do it before you decorate the rest of your bathroom. The bright white finish has made me seriously reconsider the rest of the paint colors in this space, especially the off white above the beadboard:
I still need to take a proper after, with the shower curtain in place, but I’m waiting a couple of more days to hang it because I don’t want to mess up the finish of the tile with the curtain rod. I’ll do that in a few then update this post.
So, would I do this project again?
I think so. It definitely is an improvement over what was there before.
I know it needs more coats. The pictures do make it look worse than it is, but the truth is, we’re done with this project. We’re not putting any more time or effort into this tile. It’s a vast improvement over what was there before, and overall, I’m happy with how it turned out.
We’re planning a gut of this space in a few years, and I can live with it until then.
The only thing I might have done differently had I known how many cans it would take with this result- I’ve been dying to use waterproof tile stickers-like these– but didn’t because of cost. I might have done that, since we ended up spending just under $200 on this project anyway.
Well, what do you think about this project? Would you try it?