Painting porcelain bathroom fixtures - DIY?

jlc102482August 9, 2011

We have decided to redo one of the bathrooms in our home in the Art Deco style. The existing sink and toilet date from somewhere between 1949-1960 but they are definitely passable for Deco in style. Unfortunately, they are both a really hideous tan-fleshtone color. We would like to repaint them light green. I know repainting porcelain fixtures is something that can be done yourself, but I'm not sure if it's something that SHOULD be done yourself! Has anyone here done this? Would we be better off finding a pro to do this for us? Both fixtures are in excellent shape with no chips, rust, or cracks.

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I know I always hate it when someone doesnt answer my question but insists on offering unsolicited advice. So feel free to reject this! But Id first start thinking in terms of how to make the hideous flesh-tan look less hideous - even beautiful - that's completely contingent on what colors are around it, reflecting off of it. Colors never exist in a vacuum, isolated, they are always relating to other colors around it. The right colors for walls/cabinetry/floor could help change how the tan looks to your eyes. The Decorating forum has some people really skilled with using colors. I wonder - is there some way of knowing what the original wall color might have been?

A professional fixture refinisher is first going to etch or roughen up the surface before applying paint -so bear in mind there is never any going back after the deed is done. I've not DIY'ed it myself but had it done to a tub and it looked OK for about a year, then started peeling. After the peeling gets too bad, I may or may not be able to have it refinished again - I've heard that it can, but then other people are saying no it can't. So - you're trading a hard durable porcelain surface in excellent condition for a temporary, fragile, not so durable surface.

From what I've heard/read, DIY paint jobs on porcelain are as a rule even less successful than the professional - as the prep is not likely to be as thorough.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 9:56AM
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In one of our bathrooms, a tub has been refinished, maybe even 2 times.. but it is awful, peeling and such. I have no choice but to replace this tub, thankfully - the 2 other original tubs are in pristine condition!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 7:03PM
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Yikes, I think I'll refrain from trying to paint them myself, then. Thanks for the input!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 8:55AM
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As someone once told me - there�s no such thing as a "bad" color � only bad color combinations! And even that changes over time, as tastes change.

By flesh color I assume you mean a Caucasian pinky-beige � if so this earthy tone scheme might work. Beiges in general have lots of possibilities.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 12:22PM
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Fori is not pleased

This color?

Let us know if you can make it good! :) I think I'm going to have to go with some black background tropical wallpaper...I have a lot of pinky-tan tile.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 6:48PM
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Ewwww! That does look like an exceptionally pukey color - in that context anyway. Yes playing up the tropical pinky-coral aspect would be one way to go

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 10:01AM
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neighbors had their old claw foot tub professionally refinished about a year ago and it looks like crap. it always showed brushstrokes (arent the new finished sprayed on ?).

I agree with Kashka kat - try to find something that works with that odd color. OR go buy new ... might be worth the $$ and fewer headaches.

IF you decide to try to work the existing fixtures in, DO get rid of the wood toilet seat and the terra cotta (?) floor - they are making the tan of the porcelain look really really bad. Try a white seat and maybe incorporate that clay-pink color into the paint in the room. It may look good with navy blue walls. If you want dramatic Deco, look at old Art deco prints till you find one that uses that clay pink color and use the other colors from the print in the room..

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 7:01PM
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If you try to use the typical epoxy paints used for 'refinishing' porcelain surfaces, make sure you have a cartridge respirator with the appropriate cartridges installed.

This stuff is nasty, and not just the smell.

Some of the brands are downright deadly.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 7:50PM
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fori, that is the EXACT color of my poor hideous fixtures. We have a tiny sink to match it, too. This is why I can't fathom "making it work" as is! I think I will forego trying to repaint them and perhaps look for period fixtures of another color, instead. The flesh-colored toilet and sink can go in the barn for some future homeowner to laugh (or cringe) at!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 9:02AM
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The house where I grew up had a toilet, sink and bathtub that were your pinkish color. The bathroom had log walls. My mom made the bathroom darling and my friends always said they loved it. She had a romantic decor theme. She had a white metal bath table from the 1800's that she used to set the theme. She had fabric skirts around the bath table and the shelving next to the sink. She used lots of pinks and whites in the bathroom and added antique samplers, mirrors, perfume bottles, etc. It looked like a picture from a magazine. If you put interesting things in your bathroom, no one will notice the color of the appliances!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 8:59PM
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I would not paint your fixtures, I have never seen paint last on porcelain. Go to some old salvage yards and pick up an "old" white toilet. I would get a wall hung toilet as they really flush. If it is clogged up with mineral deposits, soak it in muratic acid, this will remove all the deposits so it will flush correctly. I have rebuilt two wall hungs, and both were clogged with deposits. You can then get a cast iron pedestal or wall hung lavatory to match the era.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 11:43PM
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"Go to some old salvage yards and pick up an "old" white toilet."

You are not allowed to sell used toilets for the most part.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 11:43PM
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