Finishing a Tub With Bathworks Refinishing Kit: Process and Results

Do-It-Yourself Bathtub, Shower, and Surround Refinishing

Cast Iron Clawfoot Bathtub
Cast Iron Clawfoot Bathtub. Getty / TARIK KIZILKAYA

If you've got a shower or tub that needs replacing, you can eke out a few more years of life by refinishing rather than replacing it.  One way to save the cost of professional refinishing is to do it yourself.

Do It Yourself vs. Professional Work

Refinishing companies abound. Miracle Method is the best-known franchise, but many independents do roughly the same work: sand parts of the surface, fill in chips, vacuum up mess, and apply special paints.

When these firms do it, it's a job that involves head-to-toe coverall suits, HEPA air filters, and industrial paint sprayers.

Can you refinish your bathtub yourself?  Sure. But you'll need to accept some limitations. DIY refinishing isn't as good as when the finishing companies do it. Then again, what the refinishing companies do is never as good as a full tub or shower replacement. It's all about getting what you pay for.

All factors being equal, I would choose professional refinishing.  But not all factors are equal:  DIY-refinishing costs a fraction of the professional work.

And that's where kits like Rust-Oleum's Tub and Tile Refinishing Kit and Bathworks' own version come into play.

About the Product

Munro Products supplies industrial-grade tools and materials to the finishing companies, so they are probably a good source of similar items for the DIY residential market (i.e., you). They have a division called BathWorks that caters to this market.

BathWorks' flagship product is called Tub and Tile Refinishing Kit, in four basic colors: Kohler White, Almond, Biscuit, and Bone. To round things out, they've also got Black and Red (and can do custom colors, as well).

These kits will refinish bathtubs, showers, tile, sinks, and wall surrounds.

How Does It Look?

Pretty good.  The surface is far smoother than I expected for a non-spray application.  My finish is going on 2 years old, and it still looks great.  Having abused the surface by using abrasive cleaners, I cannot comment on Bathworks' ability to remain glossy.  However, despite the use of abrasives, the finish surface is still intact and doing its job.

Positives

  • Complete Kit: With some exceptions listed in the "Negatives" section, Bathworks at least aims to make this a complete kit. They have the 5 materials (refinishing paint, liquid primer, hardener, etching cleaner, and optional SlipGuard) that form the crux of the kit--things that you can't buy off the paint shelf at The Home Depot. they also have a paint tray, roller, tack rag, stir stick, 2 sets of gloves, directions, sandpaper, safety tips. None of these tools are anything special; indeed, if you run out, you can always run to the hardware store and buy extras. This is good for non fixit -type homeowners who want to refinish their tubs. They may not have complete workshops full of extra sandpaper and other accessories.
  • Coating Goes On Smoothly: Spraying on paint is always the best way to produce a smooth, flawless coat. But I was surprised at how smooth this coating rolled on. Yes, I took care to roll out any drips and roller ridges. But I feel that the praise in producing a beautiful coat shouldn't go to me but to the Bathworks coating. It was easy to roll on.
  • Cost:  I did not list cost as a positive in my original review.  But with this review update, I see that Bathworks Premium still costs the same as it did two years ago:  $79.  I like the fact that the company hasn't jacked up prices.

Negatives

  • Shortage of Some Materials: Some of the materials that were supplied were in short supply. The small amount of etching cleaner did not cover the entire tub. Same with the little bottle of liquid primer. The coating itself was sufficient to cover an entire bathtub, plus front apron. But you'll need another kit if you want to go up the walls.
  • If They Really Want To Be Complete...  This is not such a big deal, but I feel like I need to mention it since the kit aims to be complete. You'll almost certainly need masking tape and caulk, which the kit doesn't have. The kit also needs to include at least a small amount of patching materials. It's hard to imagine a tub that doesn't need a little patch or two.
  • Cost: Yes, cost is listed as both a positive and a negative.  While $79 is vastly cheaper than all alternatives--replacement, liners, or hiring a refinishing company--the materials supplementary to the "meat and potatoes" of the product should not drive up the cost to $79.
  • Poor Instructions: The instructions are dense, hard to read, have no graphics, and include some errors. For better instructions, follow the link below showing you show to refinish your tub yourself.