Can You Paint a Plastic Bathtub?

If you’re tired of looking at your stained, outdated plastic bathtub but don’t want to spend a fortune on a replacement, you might be wondering if there’s a more affordable option, like painting it. But can you paint a plastic bathtub?

Yes, it is possible to paint a plastic bathtub, but you must properly prepare the surface and use appropriate materials to ensure the paint sticks well and lasts long.

You’ll need to apply a primer to the surface of the tub because it helps the paint adhere properly and ensures that it doesn’t peel or flake off over time.

Next, choose the right kind of paint. You’ll want to go for an epoxy acrylic paint that’s specifically designed for plastic surfaces. This type of paint is formulated to be durable and resistant to water and chemicals, which is especially important in a bathroom where the tub will be exposed to moisture and cleaning products.

While a painted plastic surface may not be as durable as the original plastic, proper preparation and application can result in a refreshed and updated look for your plastic bathtub.

Not only is it a cost-effective solution, but it’s also a great way to give your bathroom a fresh new look without the hassle and expense of a full renovation.

With the right tools and techniques, painting a plastic bathtub can be a relatively easy and straightforward DIY project that can completely transform the look of your bathroom.

This post unpacks the steps you need to take to paint your plastic bathtub and achieve a professional-looking finish that will last for years to come.

Read also: How to Remove Yellow Stains From Plastic Bathtubs

How to Paint a Plastic Bathtub?

The process can be done in a few simple steps, but it is important to follow them carefully to ensure that the paint adheres properly and lasts for a long time. Let’s walk you through the steps to paint a plastic bathtub, but first, some tips and tricks will ensure a successful project.

Tips and Tricks
  • Choose a paint color that is lighter than the original color of the bathtub. Darker colors can show imperfections and scratches more easily.
  • Use a paint that is specifically designed for plastic surfaces. This type of paint is resistant to water and chemicals and will provide a durable finish.
  • If you are using a roller brush, choose one with a short nap to avoid leaving roller marks on the surface of the bathtub.
  • Use a ventilation fan or open a window to ensure good airflow while painting.
  • If you need to clean up any drips or mistakes, use a small amount of paint thinner on a cloth to remove the paint before it dries.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners on the painted surface, as they can damage the paint and cause it to peel or crack.
Materials needed
  • Plastic-safe cleaning solution
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Masking tape
  • Plastic primer
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Roller brush (optional)
  • Paint thinner (for cleanup)
Step-by-step guide 

Step 1: Clean the Bathtub

The first step is to clean the bathtub with a plastic-safe cleaning solution thoroughly, as it will remove any dirt, grime, and soap scum that may be on the surface of the tub, which can prevent the paint from adhering properly. Use a soft-bristled brush or sponge to scrub the surface, and then rinse it thoroughly with clean water.

Step 2: Sand the Bathtub

Once the bathtub is clean and dry, the next step is to sand the surface lightly. This will create a rough texture that will help the primer and paint adhere better. Use fine-grit sandpaper (around 220 grit) and sand in a circular motion, making sure to sand evenly across the entire surface. After sanding, wipe the bathtub with a tack cloth to remove any dust or debris.

Step 3: Mask Off the Area

Before applying primer and paint, it is important to mask off the area around the bathtub to protect it from overspray or accidental drips. Use masking tape to cover any areas that you don’t want to paint, such as the walls or the floor. Be sure to press the tape down firmly to create a tight seal.

Step 4: Apply the Primer

The next step is to apply a plastic primer to the surface of the bathtub. The primer will help the paint adhere better and will also prevent the plastic from yellowing over time. Apply the primer evenly across the surface of the bathtub using a paintbrush or roller brush. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and drying times.

Step 5: Apply the Paint

Once the primer has dried, it is time to apply the paint. Choose a high-quality acrylic epoxy paint that is designed for use on plastics. Use a paintbrush or roller brush to apply the paint in thin, even coats. Be sure to allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next one. Applying at least two coats of paint is recommended to ensure full coverage.

Step 6: Allow the Paint to Cure

After the final coat of paint has been applied, allow it to cure completely. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the temperature and humidity levels in your home. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for curing times.

Remember that painted plastic surfaces are not as durable as original plastic surfaces, and the painted finish may eventually wear off or become damaged over time.

Best Paint for Plastic Bathtub 

If you intend to breathe new life into your plastic tub by repainting it, choose the right paint that will adhere to the surface and provide a long-lasting finish.

Here are some of the best types of paint to use on a plastic bathtub;

Epoxy paint for plastic surfaces

Epoxy paint is a popular choice for painting plastic bathtubs because it is durable, long-lasting, and resistant to water and chemicals. It creates a hard, glossy finish that can withstand the wear and tear of regular use.

One example of epoxy paint for plastic surfaces is the Rust-Oleum Specialty Tub and Tile Refinishing Kit. This kit includes a two-part epoxy paint that is specifically designed for use on porcelain, ceramic, and fibreglass surfaces, as well as plastic. It is available in a variety of colors and can be applied with a brush or roller.

Acrylic paint for plastic surfaces

Acrylic paint is another good option for painting plastic bathtubs, as it is water-resistant and durable. It also dries quickly, which can be helpful when you need to apply multiple coats.

Krylon Fusion for Plastic Spray Paint is an example of acrylic paint for plastic surfaces. This paint is specifically designed for use on plastic surfaces and is available in a variety of colors. It dries quickly and creates a durable, chip-resistant finish.

Automotive paint for plastic surfaces

Automotive paint is another option for painting a plastic bathtub, as it is designed to adhere to plastic surfaces and provide a long-lasting finish. It is also resistant to water and chemicals, making it a good choice for use in the bathroom.

One example of automotive paint for plastic surfaces is SEM Color Coat Flexible Coating. This paint is designed for use on interior and exterior plastic surfaces, including plastic bathtubs. It is available in a variety of colors and provides a durable, flexible finish.

Note that when choosing paint for a plastic bathtub, you should always check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that it is suitable for use on plastic surfaces.

How to Achieve Smooth Finish When Painting Plastic Bathtubs

It is essential to prep the surface properly to achieve a smooth finish when painting plastic bathtubs. Begin by cleaning the bathtub thoroughly, then apply a stripping agent and allow it to work. After that, lightly sand the surface to facilitate the primer’s adhesion. Giving the primer enough time to dry completely before applying the paint is crucial.

While most primers require four hours of drying time, it is recommended to leave it overnight for better results. During the drying process, avoid using the shower in the bathroom to prevent the increased humidity from affecting the primer’s bond with the plastic.

Wear appropriate protective gear, choose the right products for the job, and repair any surface damages before starting.

Can I Use Enamel Paint on a Plastic Bathtub?

Enamel paint is a type of oil-based paint that is commonly used on surfaces such as metal, wood, and ceramics. While enamel paint can provide a durable and glossy finish, using it on plastic surfaces, including plastic bathtubs, is generally not recommended.

First, plastic surfaces are often smooth and non-porous, which can make it difficult for paint to adhere properly. Enamel paint may not bond well with plastic, leading to peeling or flaking over time.

Secondly, plastic bathtubs are regularly exposed to water and cleaning products, which can cause the paint to deteriorate quickly. Enamel paint is not specifically formulated for use in wet environments and may not be able to withstand constant exposure to moisture.

Finally, some types of enamel paint may contain harsh solvents that can damage plastic surfaces or cause discoloration over time. This can make the bathtub look unsightly and may require additional refinishing or repair work.

Can a Plastic Bathtub Be Resurfaced?

Yes, a plastic bathtub can be resurfaced. Resurfacing, also known as reglazing or refinishing, involves the application of a new coating over the existing surface to restore its appearance and durability. This is an effective and cost-efficient way to revitalize an old, worn, or damaged bathtub without having to replace it entirely.

The resurfacing process typically involves the following steps:


The bathtub is thoroughly cleaned to remove any dirt, grime, or soap scum. Any chips, cracks, or other damage are repaired. The surrounding area is covered to protect against overspray.


The surface of the bathtub is etched with an acid solution to create a rough texture that will help the new coating adhere better.


A primer is applied to the surface to promote adhesion and ensure that the new coating will adhere properly.


A specialized coating is sprayed or rolled onto the surface of the bathtub. This coating is typically made of an acrylic or urethane-based material that dries to a hard, durable finish.


The coating is allowed to dry for a period of time, typically around 24-48 hours, before the bathtub can be used again.

Note that not all plastic bathtubs can be resurfaced. Some types of plastic, such as fiberglass and acrylic, are more suitable for resurfacing than others.

The condition of the bathtub may also be a factor in determining whether it can be resurfaced. If the bathtub is severely cracked or damaged, it may need to be replaced rather than resurfaced.

What If I Dont Want to Paint My Plastic Bathtub? What Can I Do?

If you don’t want to paint your plastic bathtub, there are several other options you can consider to refresh or upgrade its appearance.

Here are a few options

Clean the bathtub

One of the simplest and most affordable options is thoroughly cleaning your bathtub. Plastic bathtubs can become discolored or stained over time, especially if they are not cleaned regularly.

You can use a specialized cleaner designed for plastic bathtubs or make your own cleaning solution by mixing equal parts of baking soda and vinegar. Apply the solution to the bathtub surface and scrub gently with a soft-bristled brush. Rinse thoroughly with water and wipe dry. Regular cleaning can help restore the bathtub’s original shine and make it look more inviting.

Replace the bathtub

If your plastic bathtub is old, damaged, or simply outdated, replacing it with a new one may be the best option. You can choose from a wide range of materials, colors, and styles to match your preferences and budget.

Acrylic, fiberglass, and porcelain are some popular materials for bathtubs. Installing a new bathtub can be a major renovation project that requires professional installation, so make sure to do your research and choose a reputable contractor.

Install a bathtub liner

If you want to give your bathtub a new look without the expense of a full replacement, a bathtub liner may be a good option. A liner is a custom-made acrylic or PVC shell that fits over your existing bathtub, covering up any imperfections or stains.

Installing a liner is a less invasive process than replacing the bathtub, and it can usually be done in a day. Liners come in a variety of colors and patterns, so you can choose one that matches your style.

Refinish the bathtub

Refinishing, also known as reglazing or resurfacing, is a process that involves applying a new surface coating to your existing bathtub. This can be a good option if your bathtub has minor scratches, chips, or discoloration.

Refinishing typically involves cleaning and sanding the surface, repairing any damage, and then applying a new coat of paint or enamel.

The result is a fresh, glossy surface that looks like new. Refinishing can be a more affordable and faster option than replacing the bathtub, but it may not last as long as a new bathtub or liner.

Ultimately, the decision on what to do with your plastic bathtub will depend on your personal preferences, budget, and the condition of the bathtub itself.

Can You Change the Color of a Plastic Bathtub?

Absolutely! Changing the color of a plastic bathtub is definitely possible. You could take a few different approaches depending on what you’re looking to achieve.

If you’re simply looking to freshen up the color of your bathtub without making a drastic change, you could consider using a specialty bathtub refinishing kit. These kits are specifically designed to bond to the surface of your plastic bathtub and provide a durable, long-lasting finish in the color of your choice.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to completely change the color of your bathtub, you could consider having it professionally refinished by a company that specializes in bathtub reglazing. This process involves stripping the original finish from your tub, repairing any chips or cracks, and applying a new finish in the color of your choice.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to do your research and make sure you choose a reputable company with experience in refinishing plastic bathtubs. But with the right approach, you can definitely change the color of your plastic bathtub and give your bathroom a fresh new look!

How Do I Know If My Bathtub Is Acrylic or Plastic?

To start with, it’s important to note that acrylic is a type of plastic. However, not all plastics are acrylics. Acrylics are a particular type of plastic that are known for their durability, clarity, and resistance to cracking and chipping.

One way to determine if your bathtub is made of acrylic is to look for a manufacturer’s label or information on the bathtub itself. Many acrylic bathtubs will have information printed on them that indicates that they are made of acrylic or a similar material.

If you cannot find any information on the bathtub, you can also try tapping on the bathtub’s surface. Acrylic bathtubs tend to have a solid, sturdy feel when you tap on them, whereas plastic bathtubs may feel more hollow or lightweight.

Another way to test the material of the bathtub is to scratch the surface in an inconspicuous area with a sharp object, such as a key or knife. If the material is acrylic, it should resist scratches and not leave a visible mark. However, if it is plastic, it may leave a scratch or mark.

I hope these tips help you determine whether your bathtub is acrylic or plastic!

Related article: How to Remove Rust Stains From Plastic Bathtubs 

Final Thoughts 

If you’re up for a fun and rewarding DIY project, painting your plastic bathtub can be a great way to give your bathroom a much-needed facelift. Just be sure to choose the right paint, prep the surface properly, and take your time to ensure that you get the best possible results. So go ahead and get creative – the possibilities are endless!