Repair a Cast Iron Tub to Complete Your Bathroom Remodel

Shannon Lee

One of the most charming elements for owners of old houses are those original features that harken back to yesteryear. An old cast-iron tub in the bathroom is definitely one of those features that reminds you of the good old days! But even old workhorses like a cast-iron tub can need serious repair.

Refinishing a Cast Iron Tub

If you have serious repair issues with your cast iron tub, such as dents or holes that are larger than a quarter, it might be best to call a professional to help with the problem. But for minor issues, such as worn coatings or rust, you can probably handle the refinishing yourself.

  1. Clear everything out of the bathroom. The materials you use to handle this project can create quite a mess, so make your cleanup easier by covering all stationary objects, like the toilet and sink, with sturdy plastic. Cover the floor as well.
  2. Remove all the caulking. Using a putty knife and a bit of elbow grease, get rid of all the old caulking around the tub and around the faucets and drains.
  3. Scrub the tub very well and dry it thoroughly. Using a palm sander to make the job easier, sand the tub with 120-grit sandpaper. You should aim to remove any calcium deposits and rough spots. Clean out the tub again, with a shop vac if necessary.
  4. Set up ventilation. The next part of your project might involve serious fumes, so it's time to open windows, set up fans, and otherwise prepare ventilation for the next step.
  5. Now it's time for the primer. Choose a high-quality primer to seal your tub. Several options are available, so don't hesitate to ask the bathroom professionals at your hardware store for their recommendations. You can apply some primers with a roller, while others need to be sprayed on. Let the primer dry thoroughly.
  6. The final step is the top coat. It is applied much the same way as the primer, with either a roller or a sprayer. Keep the room ventilated for this step too, and expect to wait for at least 48 hours for the top coat to dry.
  7. Reapply the caulking. Let it dry, and you're done!

Your cast iron tub can last for decades if you take care to jump on any problems that appear. You should also seal it thoroughly every few years to keep it in tip-top shape.

About the Author

Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.

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