Paint Idea: Colorize a Claw-foot Tub
Want to dress up the outside of an existing cast-iron fixture or put a fresh face on a salvaged one? Turns out painting’s the easy part—it’s surface prep and priming that require careful consideration. Here’s how to do this specialty paint job right, in light of the fixture’s existing condition
Shown: Want a smooth look? Disguise cast iron’s rough texture with a satin-sheen paint.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN You can paint a tub—or a sink—in place, but the job will be easier if the fixture’s not installed. Unless the tub or sink was manufactured after 1978, you’ll want to test for lead paint using a swab kit from the home center. A positive test means you’ll need to take proper removal precautions; go to epa.gov/lead for guidelines.
IS THE SURFACE IN BAD SHAPE? Remove pitted or flaking paint (that does not contain lead) as well as any rust—down to bare metal if possible—with a metal scraper, wire brush, and wire wheel on a drill, in that order. Sand what remains using a random-orbit sander and 60-grit paper, then wipe the surface with a quick-drying solvent like denatured alcohol. Don a respirator with organic vapor cartridges and open a window before applying a slow-drying, oil-based primer. Use a 1⁄4-inch-nap roller, then smooth any bumps by dragging the tip of a natural-bristle brush through the still-wet primer. When the primer is dry, apply two coats of oil-based enamel in the same manner.
IS THE PAINT INTACT? Wash it with a dilute solution of dish detergent to remove any oils and let dry. Scuff-sand with 180-grit paper and wipe clean with denatured alcohol. Roll on and tip a high-adhesion acrylic primer formulated to bond with glossy surfaces. Once dry, finish with the interior paint—oil or latex is fine—of your choosing.