Has your bathtub seen better days? Although your first thought might be to replace it, you’d be wise to consider all your options before undergoing the costly venture of purchasing a new one. Although the price tag of a basic enameled steel tub might not be too hard to stomach, it is important to keep in mind that that number will quickly multiply when you account for the cost of a contractor, demolition, removal, landfill fees, tilers, and a plumber.

With the total amount likely to skyrocket, you’re sure to be keen to explore different ideas. In other words, refinishing your current bathtub can start to look pretty attractive. Thankfully, that’s a very available alternative and probably not as much work as you might have guessed.

Here are the ten steps and procedures on how to refinish a bathtub in your house:

1. Decide if you need to refinish or replace your bathtub

Before you learn how to refinish a bathtub, you must first decide whether it needs to be refinished or replaced. It’s worth remembering that when it comes to home remodeling, your overall plumbing systems are likely to be affected.

By simply keeping your current bathtub in place, you’ll avoid the risks and undue stress of remodeling. You won’t have to deal with the chaotic, cascading effect of tile surround, flooring, cement board, plumbing fixtures, and possibly even more, being messed up and in need of repair. Refinishing a tub means all the work is done on-site and things stay in place.

2. Contact a professional for bathtub refinishing

Professional tub refinishers may call their process reglazing, and the specific steps they use may differ somewhat, but the basic process is more or less standard. In all cases, they will begin by thoroughly cleaning the bathtub and removing all caulking. They will then mask the area surrounding the bathtub and cover everything that is not going to be refinished.

Any good refinishing technician will be highly aware of the fact that they are in a private residence, so they will take precautions to minimize overspray and other mess. Contact a plumber and ask them for help in terms of how to refinish a bathtub properly.

3. Remove hardware and set up ventilation

These precautionary measures also include removing all hardware, including the bath facet and drain fittings. In most cases, they will also set up a ventilation fan or system so that they can vent overspray and odor outside.

4. Sand and vacuum

Once everything is prepped and ready, the real work can begin. They will lightly sand the tub to roughen the original finish. In some cases, the tub may also be etched with acid to help the new coating adhere. Then the tub will be vacuumed to eliminate any debris which resulted from the sanding stage.

5. Fill and apply

Next, all chipped or scratched areas will be filled and sanded smooth. Then up to three layers of primer will be applied with a sprayer and allowed to dry before the top-coat mixture is added. The topcoat will typically be applied in three to four layers and then left to cure. Once everything is set, the tub will be buffed and ready for use.

6. Do-it-yourself bathtub refinishing

Of course, bathtub refinishing can also be done as an at-home DIY project. This will definitely save you money, but it is worth noting that you’re likely to end up with an inferior finish that is more inclined to peel. Instead of using a spray gun, you will use a brush or small roller. ​You can also buy DIY kits that include a quart of epoxy with hardener, latex gloves, steel wool, brush, cleaning solution, cleaner/thinner, and safety goggles.

7. First steps

You’ll start out the same way as the professionals, by thoroughly cleaning the tub and removing all hardware. You’ll also want to mask off and cover the area around the tub, and open windows and/or set up fans to provide active ventilation of the work area.

8. Etch and sand

Now you’ll proceed to etch the surface of the tub with etching powder in order to full the finish so the new coat can easily bond. After an initial rinse of the etching powder, you can sand the tub (while it is still wet), to further rougher the surface. Then give it one final rinse and let it dry completely before wiping it with a soft cloth to remove and dust or residue.

9. Apply primer and coating

The tub is no ready for the primer, which should be applied with a roller and left to dry as directed. You’ll them mix the epoxy coating and begin applying the first of two coats to the sides of the tub with a roller. It’s advisable to alternate between vertical and horizontal strokes to prevent drips and roller ridges. Move on to the horizontal surfaces, then roll the tub bottom.

10. Let it cure

Once you’ve finished, you should let the tub cure for 48 hours and keep the area well ventilated. You can then replace all hardware and caulk the tub before letting it cure once more overnight.