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How to Fix a Chipped Bathtub: When to Replace

Over time, the coating on showers and bathtubs will weaken, making them more susceptible to chips and cracks. More than just an aesthetic problem, they can lead to water damage and mold down the line if not repaired. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to fix porcelain, fiberglass, and acrylic showers and tubs on your own.

DIY Tips: How to Fix a Chipped Bathtub

If you have a chip, crack, or even a hole in your bathtub, you may not have to replace the entire tub. Our plumbers in Bethany from Champion Plumbing have compiled a list on how to fix a chipped bathtub that won’t break the bank.

Epoxy Repair Kits

An epoxy repair kit is a simple and affordable way to repair a small crack or chip in your bathtub. Each kit comes with a catalyst and hardener, which you mix to create the epoxy. The kits are available for porcelain, enamel, ceramic, acrylic, and fiberglass repairs. You must use a kit that produces epoxy that matches the surface of your tub. 

We also suggest you match the epoxy color to the shade of your tub for a seamless outcome. Epoxy repair kits come in various shades of white, so you should find something close to the color of your bathtub.

Before You Begin

Before you discover how to fix a chipped bathtub and start mixing the components in your kit, it’s important to clean the area surrounding the chip or crack. We recommend scrubbing the area with a sponge using a product that can remove soap scum and grease. If you don’t have a general tub or tile cleaner, you can use dish detergent, acetone, or rubbing alcohol. 

Not all epoxy repair kits come with all the supplies you need. You will need a small disposable tray, stirrer, and applicator. If your kit doesn’t come with these items, you can substitute similar items you have at home. Make sure you only use disposable tools as the epoxy is difficult to clean off. 

Consider using a small paint tray or old Tupperware lid to mix the catalyst and hardener on if you don’t receive a disposable tray. In place of a stirrer, you can use a toothpick, matchstick, or the end of a small paintbrush. Finally, if your kit doesn’t include an applicator, you can use a small spatula, paintbrush, or even the wooden end of a matchstick. 

During preparation, put down cardboard or newspaper where you plan to mix the epoxy. Doing so will prevent it from drying on unintended areas, as it’s challenging to clean up.

Tips to Achieve the Best Results

  • Apply a thin layer of the epoxy first. You can add more layers later as needed.
  • When applying the epoxy, create strokes in one direction.
  • Different epoxy repair kits require varying dry times. Exclusively follow your kit’s directions.
  • Gently use 400-grit or 600-grit sandpaper to smooth out the dry epoxy. Be careful to only sand the area you’ve applied epoxy to, as sandpaper can easily scratch your tub.
  • If you can still see the crack or chip after following the drying and sanding directions in your epoxy repair kit, you can perform the process again to add another layer.

Bathtub Refinishing Kit

Bathtub refinishing kits are an affordable DIY option for those interested in learning how to fix a chipped bathtub and refinish its surface. When comparing various kits, we suggest buying one that comes will all of the materials required to get the job done. Most kits come with tub cleaner, brush, roller, sandpaper, paint tray, primer, and refinishing paint. 

Each refinishing kit will repair common bathtub materials, including ceramic, acrylic, porcelain, fiberglass, and enamel. They often only come in white, but you can easily change the tint of the refinishing paint by adding acrylic paint. It will still look glossy and simulate porcelain once it dries. 

Before buying a refinishing kit, consider the area you want to treat and your application preference. You have the option to spray on the bathtub refinisher using an aerosol spray can or pour it on. Most people find it easier to use spray-on options, but they don’t produce results as nice as those you pour.

Before You Begin

When you’re ready to discover how to fix a chipped bathtub using a refinishing kit, open all nearby windows and turn on the bathroom fan to ventilate the room. You will also need to protect the floor, toilet, sink, and other fixtures by covering them with a plastic cloth. We suggest wearing a face mask and goggles to protect yourself from the chemicals involved. 

Most refinishing kits come with a special tub cleaner to remove stains, soap scum, and grease. Use it according to the kit’s instructions. If your kit doesn’t include a cleaning product, scrub the tub using an industrial-strength bathtub cleaner. 

We suggest scrubbing the bathtub or shower three times before getting started, rinsing it off in between each scrub. Wait for it to dry or get rid of excess water with a towel before you continue.

Tips to Achieve the Best Results

  • Use a bathtub refinishing kit that comes with a resin coating rather than an epoxy coating as resin tends to last longer.
  • When sanding the tub, start with 400-grit sandpaper and work your way up to 2,000-grit.
  • How well you clean and sand the tub will determine your results, as these steps are necessary for the refinisher to adhere to the tub.
  • Line the tub and fixtures with painter’s tape. Remove the drain and overflow faceplate if possible.
  • Do your best to apply the product evenly.
  • Let each coat dry for at least 30 minutes before applying the next one.
  • Allow the refinisher to dry for several days before using the shower or tub again.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Bathtub

Sometimes a bathtub or shower is beyond repair and should be replaced instead. If learning how to fix a chipped bathtub isn’t something you’re up for, a replacement might be a better option. These are the signs to look for, indicating it may be too late for repair kits.

Leaks

If you notice your bathtub leaking, you should replace it as soon as possible. Leaks will cause massive damage to your foundation and encourage mold growth. Here are two ways to check if your tub is leaking:

  • Look for puddles on the floor before stepping out of the shower.
  • Fill the tub, apply the drain stopper, and see if the water level lowers after a few hours.

Recurring Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew aren’t just an eyesore, but they’re also a health hazard. At the first sight of either one, remove it with bleach or a special cleaner. If it continues to grow back, you may have a more substantial problem that will require you to replace the tub.

It’s Outdated

While repair kits can improve the look of your tub or shower, they’re not miracle workers. If your bathtub is old and outdated, fixing a few cracks or chips likely won’t be much of an improvement. Consider upgrading to a new tub instead of wasting time and money on repair kits.

Trust Champion Plumbing With Your Tub Remodel

If repair kits don’t give you the results you’re looking for, get in touch with our team at Champion Plumbing to learn more about bathroom remodeling. Call us now at 405-889-1318 to schedule a consultation and get started on your new bathroom today.

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The next time you need a plumbing contractor, call Champion Plumbing if you’re in the Edmond, OK area at 405-342-3571 and give us the chance to earn your business.