Author Topic: Odor-free bathtub refinishing  (Read 1409 times)


  • Stubble
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Odor-free bathtub refinishing
« on: November 27, 2017, 05:50:33 PM »
My apartment has the original 1925 tub, and the surface is in sorry shape.  It looks like someone tried to refinish it previously, and the finish has started to peel.

I thought I'd get it refinished, which is commonly done in my coop (replacing the tub is undesirable and crazy expensive).  However, the super has started on a warpath against odors from construction, and has refused to grant approval to having it done professionally.  He says I have to find a company that uses products with zero VOC, as in "low VOC" is not acceptable.  I'm not sure such a thing even exists, and for sure no refinishing contractor within earshot offers it.

I'm trying to figure out what my options are and could use advice from experienced folks:

- IS there such a thing as a zero-VOC tub refinishing product?

- Is there an alternative such as a tub liner I could try?  I don't want to change the shape of the tub - it's quite unique (rectangular with rounded corner, extra deep).

- What if I just cleaned/scraped the tub and didn't bother trying to repaint it?  I can live without a shiny white tub, but I hate the stains & peeling bits.

- Is it worth the effort to refinish it myself?  I assume I could get away with it if I use a low-odor product and keep the bathroom ventilated with a box fan in the window.  I'm not terribly handy and also don't have a lot of spare time unfortunately.

- Alternatively I could scrape it, wait for the super to encounter other shareholders who would like to refinish their tubs, and try again later.  Or go to the coop board with the problem.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Odor-free bathtub refinishing
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2017, 07:45:31 PM »
I refinished my tub with a DIY kit (2-part epoxy).  It took several days, including the surface prep and drying time, and it stank to high heaven. Even with the bathroom door shut and a fan venting to the outdoors, the smell was very noticeable when you walked in the front door of the house. 

I have seen plain paint designed for touching up porcelain.  I am sure it would not last as long as the epoxy, but it might be acceptable to the super.

I find the super's attitude confusing.  Does he have the authority to ban co-op members from doing things to their apartments?  Does no-VOC mean you can't even repaint the walls?


  • Stubble
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Re: Odor-free bathtub refinishing
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2017, 06:27:29 AM »
I don't think the super has really thought through the issue.  He's just reacting to a couple of recent refinishing jobs where there were odor complaints from neighbors.  You're correct that "no VOC" would technically outlaw paint as well - I'll point that out to him (and to the coop board).

If there is no such thing as "no-VOC" bath refinishing though, I'd like to point that out as well.  I can't find anything like that, except for websites with suspiciously little information and a lot of incorrect spelling that don't look legit.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Odor-free bathtub refinishing
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2017, 06:48:57 AM »
No VOC paints are widely available, so that shouldn't be a problem. I don't use them and don't live in an area that they would be required (places with smog problems, mostly) so don't know if they're any good, but every low VOC paint I've ever used worked fine. I think we're still conditioned to think that it needs to be smelly in order to work or something.

And I'm not recommending this, but is a no VOC bathtub refinishing product.


  • Bristles
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Re: Odor-free bathtub refinishing
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2017, 08:42:02 AM »
Stay away from tub liners (and anything from Bathfitters).  They are BS.  I have them in a house I bought, and they need to be removed.  No matter what, water gets in between the tub and the liner, and could result in mold.  It might last for several years, but it will leak.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2017, 06:27:01 PM by HawkeyeNFO »


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Odor-free bathtub refinishing
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2017, 02:06:05 PM »
Following this with interest.  I've wanted to refinish my claw foot tub for 10 years.

My research told me that the DIY kits sold in home improvement stores are good if you're looking to flip a house, but after a few years of use the tub is going to look just as peeled and disgusting as it does right now.  If you want lasting change (meaning 5-10 years) you should hire a pro.

The company I plan to use--someday--can remove the claw foot tub from my bathroom, dip it in some sort of remover off-site, and refinish both inside and outside for $1,200.  Or, he could come to my house and refinish the inside only for $700.  He said it will absolutely stink and he needs a window in the room for ventilation.

As for tub liners, the companies carry x amount of standard shapes.  They may not have your squarish 1925 tub and might not be able to fit a liner at all. 

Side note, but my very gross and peely tub still functions and is clean.  When company comes I just pull the shower curtain around it and ignore it.  It's been on our home improvement list for a decade and keeps getting bumped by more important issues.


  • Stubble
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Re: Odor-free bathtub refinishing
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2017, 07:51:08 AM »
I finally got the super to come up with a realistic list of requirements, and a company that agreed to them.  It was beyond painful, as (I guess) bathtub refinishing is low-margin and most companies weren't willing to deal with even just the complex negotiations.  The company I went with charges more than the others, but they have a 5 year warranty for their work instead of the usual 1 year.  They told me that they've never heard of anything like what my super asked for.

The super's requests were:

1) Completely encase the bathroom in plastic including heating pipes and light fixtures.
2) Ventilate out the window during the entire drying time, with a filter placed over the fan.
3) Use the lowest VOC product available (this company does).  There is no zero VOC product - that link cited above turned out to be a non-existent product.  The product this company uses is also fast drying; most odor is gone after 2 hours and it's completely dry in 10 hours.
And the super said he wanted to inspect the setup before they start spraying.

The contractor wanted to charge me $500 extra for this, but I offered to handle those requirements myself.  I bought a big charcoal filter sheet and a fan that would fit in the narrow window, and on the day of I'll cover the ceiling & fixtures myself with a plastic drop cloth & blue tape.

From everything I've read, the DIY home kits are a really bad idea.  The stuff is difficult to remove and it's not low VOC.  Removing the claw-foot tub is a great idea - not an option for me though, as mine is built in.  And thanks for the tip about tub liners...definitely mine would be difficult to match.

If you're in NYC and interested in the identity of the contractor, PM me after January 11.  Hopefully by then I'll have a nice freshly white tub!
« Last Edit: December 29, 2017, 07:54:41 AM by freya »