Overview of Tub Refinishing Process
One common misconception of bathtub refinishing–and mine, too, until I researched the topic–is that the bathtub needs to be removed and taken to a shop. Yes, some refinishing does take place off-site, but most refinishing is done on-site. Refinishing technicians are highly aware of the fact that they are in a private residence, so they take precautions to minimize overspray and other mess.
After masking and dropcloths are set up, the tub is repaired (nicks and holes filled), primed, sealed, and painted with a highly durable, glossy top-coat of any color you choose.
Surprised that it is paint? The two biggest bathtub refinishing companies I spoke to like to call the substance a “coating,” rather than paint. Look at it however you want, but rid your mind of the idea that bathtub refinishing is a duplication of the tub’s original dip-coat. In some cases, you can send a valuable cast iron tub off-site for a new dip-coat–but this is not what we refer to as bathtub refinishing.
Also rid your mind of the notion that this is DIY-level spray-painting. The coatings are formulated for this purpose, and the methods and tools used by the technicians are difficult, if not impossible, for the average homeowner to duplicate.