Painting exterior on clawfoot bathtub

techinstructorApril 29, 2012

I need advice on painting the exterior of a clawfoot bathtub. The exterior of the tub was blasted with crushed glass (soda blasted on the interior) and all of the old paint was removed with this process. The cast iron has some pitting, probably due to age and years of sitting outdoors, but the blasting cleaned it up nicely.

The same day, we rubbed it down with denatured alcohol and then painted it. First we sprayed it was two coats of Rust-o-leum Professional Primer. We were careful to follow all of the manufacturer's instructions and the weather conditions for spraying (the tub was outside on a trailer) were within the parameters specified. We then sprayed the tub with two coats of Rust-o-leum Hammered metal paint. We picked this because the color and the textured would look the best of any of the Rust-o-leum paints available. Again we were careful to follow the manufacturers instructions. This was done about 1 1/2 week ago.

The tub has remained outside and it has been rained on a few times since it was painted. We now starting to see rust showing through where there is pitting along the sides. The top coat of paint has not hardened to the point where it cannot be scratched off with a fingernail.

We plan to strip the paint and redo it, but this time I want to be sure that I'm using a paint which will not allow the metal to rust. Eventually the tub will be moved into the house, but since a bathroom is a moist environment I need to be sure that the paint can withstand the humidity. I know I could spend a bunch of money and have the whole tub urethaned by professionals, but the whole point of using this tub was to save money by doing the project ourselves. I'm not concerned about the interior of the tub; it's got some stain but it's fully serviceable as it is. I am however concerned about the exterior. I want a good durable paint that will last for years to come.

Any suggestions? Thank you in advance for your replies.

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I have painted two different claw foot tubs. The first, was painted in place, and difficult to remove the old paint, so I just scuffed it a bit with sandpaper, then painted it with an alkyd paint (2 coats). 7 years later, there are no changes to the paint at all.

The second tub, I used my 4 inch grinder with a brush attachment and cleaned off the old paint, then primed it with an oil primer, topping it off with the same alkyd (Sherwin Williams) paint. It looks as good as the day it was done. Both tubs have remained inside and have never had rain on them. My baths have humidity, but also have decent fans in them that are used regularly.

Personally, I don't find the rustoleum products all that great on the couple of occasions I have used them.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 5:26PM
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I'm glad someone with experience with a tub answered. I only had experience with Rustoleum products once before and it was on outdoor furniture and I hated it. Didn't seem to hold up.

But in an older rental house we did have a cast iron tub re-glazed several years ago. So when I hear about someone talking about a cast iron tub, are you really talking about the whole tub being cast iron or just the 'inside' of the tub being cast iron and the finish being a porcelain (or some other) glaze? I think that may be your problem...trying to use a paint that is wrong for the finish you want. Plus leaving it out in the rain doesn't seem to help you either.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 4:55PM
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We had our old tub stripped and we reprinted it immediately with regular paint. It's perfect. Didn't leave it outside though. I think that was your problem.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 8:06PM
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We used rustoleum on a tub 3 years ago and so far, no problem. It wasn't rusty though. You need to get down to bare metal if you have any original rust or it is just going to bleed through most paints.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 8:39AM
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