Apartment bathtub peeling: How to Fix

Painting a cast iron bathtub to prevent rusting seems like a great idea, but what happens when the coating starts peeling off. This is the annoying issue that most homeowners/ tenants faces. Peeling bathtub glazing is usually irritating. 

Replacing a peeling bathtub can be stressful and expensive. Some might even require total renovation. You don’t have to replace the whole bathtub if it is not necessary. With little DIY hacks and a few bucks, your bathtub can be shining again. 

Not forgetting to mention that you will have to read this blog to the end and follow the instructions on the materials that you will buy. In this guide, you will be able to figure out why your bathtub is peeling and how to prevent future occurrences. Let us dive in.

Why does Bathtub Peel?

old bathtub removal

For a bathtub to peel, it must have been refinished at least once. Bathtubs installed directly from factories might rust or change color, but they won`t peel. Most bathtub refinishing is done to prevent rusting or change the original color of the bathtub. 

Below are the common factors responsible for a refinished bathtub peeling. 

  1. Unrepaired Accidental damages 

When a small chip in the bathtub plating is left unrepaired, water will penetrate underneath the bathtub and its coat, thereby causing other part to start  peeling off. The chip might be caused when you accidentally drop a heavy object in your bathtub. 

A sharp object should not be found in or around your bathtub. Keep away heavy objects that can cause chips in your bathtub when dropped. Also, avoid cleaning your bathtub with metallic scrubs to avoid scratching the surface of your glazed bathtub.

  1. Improper Refinishing

Bathtub refinishing must be done with great care to get a favorably lasting result. The presence of bubbles when coating the bathtub can cause peeling off within a few days after finishing. This problem is majorly from the manufacturing company. Therefore, purchase your bathtub from a verified company with good quality.

Also, using wrong materials for surface finishing of the bathtub can also cause the paint to peel sooner than usual. 

In addition, the cleaning process must not be skipped because the paint might not stick properly on the bathtub in the presence of grease. Ensure that you do not leave stagnant water in your bathtub after bathing. If your bathtub tap is dripping, ensure to repair it as fast as possible to prevent the bathtub coating from peeling. 

  1. Wear and tear

Wear and tear is another natural cause of bathtub peeling. This factor is unavoidable. Most professionally refinished bathtubs can last between 10-15 years.

With proper maintenance of your bathtub, the only factor for peeling will be wear and tear. 

How to fix a peeling Bathtub 

Now that you know why the refinished bathtub is peeling, the next thing is to fix it. The solution is to either replace the bathtub completely or refinish it again. Some factors determine which solution will be best for you. Factors such as, tenant or homeowner usage level determines what to use to fix the peeling tub. If the peeling is minimal, coating the bathtub with paint will do.

In the case of rusting and peeling, the cost of replacing the bathtub might be lesser than the cost of refinishing it in the long run. In such a situation, replacing the bathtub is the best solution.

Here are the best practices you should consider if you have a peeling bathtub in your home

  1. Re-glaze the bathtub 

Bathtub re-glazing is a process of coating the upper layer of a bathtub with paint to prevent rusting, change in color, or to beautify it. The paint can either be poured on or sprayed on. Spray-on is the best choice for a beginner. The materials needed for bathtub re-glazing include the following.

  • Nose mask 
  • Bathtub liner
  • Vinyl hand gloves
  • Paper towel
  • Re-glazing paint (rust-oleum)
  • DE glosser
  • Standing fan
  • Paper tape
  • Liquid soap
  • Scrapper/sandpaper
  • Paint and epoxy remover
  • Two-component epoxy repair kit

Follow the steps below to re-glaze your peeling bathtub

Step 1: Cleaning 

Cleaning is the fundamental step to refinishing a peeling bathtub. Before you start cleaning, put on your nose mask and hand glove. Open the bathroom window and put on the standing fan. Cover the inlet tap and the water outlet drain with tape and follow the instructions below to clean the bathtub.

  • Use a sandpaper to open up the pores of the peeling areas of the bathtub. Apply pressure to remove as much paint as you can. 
  • Spray epoxy and paint remover on the surface of the bathtub. Allow the paint remover to stay for 15 minutes. The paint-coated areas of the bathtubs will begin to burble, differentiating themselves from the bathtub’s original color. 
  • Gently scrape off the softened paint with a scrapper. Gather and pack the scrapped paint with a paper towel. Clean all excess paint remover with a paper towel.
  • Spray liquid soap in the bathtub. Scrub the bathtub with a soft sponge to remove all dirt and paint. Rinse the bathtub by spraying water.
  • Spray the de-glosser on a clean towel and use it to wipe the whole bathtub.

Step 2: Patching and Drying 

Repair all the chips within your bathtub by mixing the two-component epoxy repair kit. It usually comes in white and pink. Follow the direction on the kit for the appropriate proportion to mix. 

Apply the epoxy on the affected area with a scrapper. Evenly spread the epoxy on the peeling areas of the bathtub. Allow the layer to dry off completely. Proceed to smoothen the layer with sandpaper.

Step 3: Painting 

Tape all the edges of the bathtub. Cover the wall with cardboard paper to avoid staining it. Some bathtub coating paint is very harmful to the lung; hence ensure that you have your nose mask on and that the room is greatly ventilated.

  • Use cardboard paper to cover all the walls surrounding the bathtub. U can use gum or paper tape to hold the cardboard in place.
  •  Sand the whole bathtub for the last time before painting.
  • Spray the first layer of the paint, starting from the edges of the bathtub. Allow the first layer to dry for some minutes before topping it with another layer. 
  • Put many layers till the bathtub has been uniformly coated. 
  • Allow the paint to dry off for some days before use. The number of days is usually specified on most bathtub re-glazing products; ensure that you check it out and follow it accordingly.
  1. Replace the Bathtub

 Ultimately, another option to fix a peeling bathtub is to get rid of the bathtub by replacing it with a new one. Purchasing a new bathtub will cost you thousands of dollars. Although the investment is worth it in the long run. Instead of trying to patch up a rusting and chipped bathtub, the best option is to buy a new one. 

Depending on the type of bathtub that you have, replacing a bathtub might require the service of a professional. A freestanding bathtub, for example, can be easily replaced with a new one without much hassle.


Your bathtub peeling does not automatically mean that you need to replace it. If the original surface of the bathtub is still neat and intact, all you need to do is refinish it properly.

 Follow all the steps in this blog to successfully re-paint your peeling bathtub. It is also important to know the causes of the peeling to prevent future occurrences. Also, call for the service of a professional when needed.

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