Painting a Cast Iron Bath - How to Get a Great Finish with Cast Iron Bath Paint

Summary: Learn about painting an iron bath and how to paint and which materials to use to get a great finish on your old cast iron bath. This project will help you revamp the old bath and turn it into a real feature in any bathroom. Make sure your get a great finish to your old cast iron bath.

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Cast iron roll top baths are becoming more and more exiting as people look for a traditional feel in a contemporary bathroom.

Finding a good quality roll top, clawed foot bath for the right price is becoming harder and harder as they are being snapped up by developers and trendy interior designers.

Old cast iron bath

Old cast iron bath in need of redecorating

Refurbishing a cast iron or other enamel bath is a great DIY project and there are many products and kits available for resurfacing the enamel in a cast iron and steel bath. Take a look at our project about how to repair enamel here.

A good roll top bath will have clawed, or at least, splayed feet which you will want to show off. This means opening the whole of the underside of the bath for scrutiny and decoration is therefore required.

Painting a cast iron bath is not difficult and as with every single decorating job in the world, the quality of finish depends entirely on the preparation.

How to paint a Cast Iron Bath

Follow these steps to get a great finish on your bath:

  1. Remove all rust: Use a proprietary rust remover on the bath if required. Follow the instructions on the tin and clean off thoroughly when done. This is one that we have used for the job
  2. Prepare the surface: Now you must prepare the surface by sanding down with emery paper. Some baths may be a little bumpy here and there and you may wish to keep this natural finish. However if you want a silky smooth finish then you may want to use an electric sander with some 80 grit emery paper to get the required surface.
  3. Degrease the surface: Once sanded down, run over the surface to degrease with a rag dipped in white spirit and allow this to dry before can start the painting
  4. Priming the bath: Before the paint can be applied you will need to use a metal primer. An oil based metal primer is the best but if you cannot get this then the quick drying primer below will do the job too.
  5. Red oxide primer for priming metal

    A suitable primer for painting your cast iron bath - Available from our own online store

  6. Apply undercoat to the bath: When the metal primer is dry, apply a coat of oil based undercoat - this is one that we have used in the past. Make sure this time that the undercoat is oil based. Paint it out using a good quality soft brush to get the undercoat as smooth as possible.
  7. Paint the final coat on to the bath: When the undercoat is dry, give it a very light sanding over with some 120 grit emery paper before applying a top coat of your choice. This can be any oil based paint of your choosing.

Making a Feature of Your Cast Iron Bath

Baths can be stenciled just as walls can and images can be hand drawn on them. You might consider a wide range of effects that you can achieve when painting you bath. Have a look at our project on paint effects to get some inspiration to create that "wow" factor. Making a roll topped bath unique is a great way of decorating your bathroom.

Coloured roll top bath

Coloured roll top bath

How to Paint a Cast Iron Bath Quickly

If the finish is not important to you but you just want some colour in the room then the old favourite Hammerite and Smoothrite paints can be used. Preparation to use these paints is not as complex as with other paints but do not expect a wonderful finish either. Whatever you are painting remember, preparation is everything.

Special paints will give you the best finish when painting a cast iron bath

Hammerite's Direct to Metal paint from DIY Doctor which is ideal for painting a cast iron bath

Have a look at our section of paints that can be applied directly on to the metal surface of the bath. There is a range of "Direct to Metal" paints that will give you a reasonable finish very quickly. You will not have the range of finishes, colours and quality that you will be able to achieve by going through the steps above, but it will be much quicker and pass a quick inspection.

Don't fancy doing this project yourself? We work with Checkatrade to ensure that we recommend only reliable and trustworthy tradesmen.

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