Our experience using tub and tile spray paint to refinish our old ceramic tile bath surround. Also, I’ve edited the original post just a bit to address some common questions I’ve received about this post.
We finally -almost- finished the easy update of our home’s only full bath, and the only thing left was to address the awful green tile in the shower/bath surround. Here’s how the bathroom looks now:
Here’s a before, including a money shot of the green tile in the shower:
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 the peel and stick vinyl. It was like being in a cave.
I feel like I need to be clear up front that this is a short term solution for us. We know that this isn’t going to last forever. We have every intention of renovating this bathroom in the next few years, not just because it’s not great, style-wise, but because there are some functional and storage issues for us since it’s our only full bath for our family. Our goal with this bathroom re-do is really to make this bathroom a more pleasant place to be until then!
We chose Rust-Oleum Specialty Tub and Tile Refinishing Kit in the spray paint for this job. We used the version of this that is roll on on our cast-iron kitchen sink, which was very stained, and it started chipping pretty badly. I am hopeful that the spray paint will work better (I know, I know, the definition of insanity…). Also, Michael, my husband, was going to be applying this while I was working, and he really loves working with spray paint and is good at it, so we thought this would be a good choice as well. We ordered 6 cans.
Michael is not a blogger, and there was no chance at all of him taking pictures throughout the prepping/spraying process, 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, definitely not like a typical spray paint finish. 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. 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 leaves a lot to be desired. Anticipate that if you are covering dark tile, it will take multiple coats.
- Not sure how cost effective it is since it takes so many coats.
- Our tub looks kind of dingy next to the bright white now. I think that since most people’s tubs aren’t as bright white as the paint, that would be the case for a lot of folks. That’s not really the fault of the paint, though.
- The dust from this stuff gets everywhere. Even with the door closed while painting, we found dust down the hall and all over the bathroom. Clean up wasn’t difficult, because the dust didn’t stick, but it did take awhile.
Pros of tub and tile spray paint
- This is a simple, beginner DIY project. Even with the challenges with spray painting, anyone could do this project!
- Even though the coverage is not great, the change is dramatic. Our entire bathroom feels completely different now! And it is a wonderful 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. 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.
- 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?
Update: We moved from this house about a year and a half after we did this project. At that time, the vast majority of this paint was still in excellent shape. On the ledge, where we placed our shampoo, soap, etc., some of the paint had started to wear off, and we sanded it down and touched it up with more paint. Overall, this is a project I would do again as a short term solution!
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