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We just moved into our new home (not a new build) and noticed flaking of the material in the bottom of one of the bathtubs. It appears as though the coating (enamel?) has flaked away in some places. We haven't noticed any leaking, but we're not sure how much of a problem something like this could be and we'd like to fix it before it becomes something bigger. Is there an easy way to repair this?

Tub Flaking pic 1

Tub Flaking pic 2

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Is it a fiberglass or steel tub? –  mikes Jan 9 at 20:49
    
@mikes I'm not 100% sure, but if I had to guess, I would say fiber glass. The area exposed is really smooth, if that helps. –  Dave Jan 11 at 19:38
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Will a magnet stick to it? –  mikes Jan 11 at 19:40
    
I didn't think to check that because I was thinking that it was going to be stainless steel. Yes, a magnet sticks to it. –  Dave Jan 11 at 23:23

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Most home centers will carry a porcelain touch-up paint. I have used it for chips but not for repairs as large as your photos show. Trying it won't make it any worse. As an alternative you can see if you it is possible to identify the tub manufacturer. It is possible that it still is under warranty. Several full scale repairs options are available with out replacement of the tub. One type involves installation of a specially molded liner that covers the entire tub. The other involves coating the tub with an epoxy like material. Neither of these are do-it yourself projects but generally are less costly than having the tub replaced. A local search for Tub-refitters should yield some results.

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I would guess that the tub may not be properly supported/bedded - thin steel and fiberglass tubs need a layer of support between the tub and the floor. The tub probably has noticeable flex when you step into it, and this flexing is breaking the enamel off. Traditionally plaster, or spray-foam (polyurethane) these days quite commonly.

If you have any DIY inclinations, the "tub-refitters" will not seem so inexpensive. They are only (possibly) inexpensive as compared to a full-on contractor remodel, if then. And the result is often not satisfactory (do some web searching.) There are some real horror stores out there. I have personal experience only insofar as getting figures in the $4000 range to "refit" a tub that was failing, and reading enough about problems to opt not to go there.

The new tub was $250, new plumbing was $80, new surround was $350 after I saw what the $170 version looked like when I got it home (much too thin and cheesy, returned and upgraded.) A wee bit less than $4000... It's messy and takes a while, but this is "one of the tubs" so at least you have another one you can use while ripping this one apart - which would be my suggestion.

In the meantime, you're fine to use this until it actually rusts through and starts leaking. I don't hold out much hope for the enamel repair, but it's worth a shot.

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I don't know that I'd do this myself. There's quite a bit that can go wrong in DIY tub resurfacing and repair. I was reading the other day where these people did a cheap kit from Home Depot and it started peeling and discoloring two months later. There's also toxic fumes involved and not many bathrooms are well-ventilated. If it were me, I'd just contact a handyman to take care of it for me and have it done right. It should end up cheaper than having to replace your tub.

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