People ask us all the time about cleaning a refinished bathtub versus a non-refinished tub. Many are surprised to hear that there is a difference in care between the two and for understandable reasons. For one thing, both tubs (refinished / reglazed vs an original tub) look the same and when it looks like a tub and feels like a tub, it probably is a tub and therefore would get the same care. The second reason is that most people don’t know what bathtub reglazing actually is and it’s implications. This second item is very important. You see when you go into a store to buy a manufactured tub, i.e a non-reglazed tub, that tub has been painted in one of two ways. 1) It’s been dipped into a large vat of paint or 2) it’s been sprayed (just like what we do in reglazing). However, it’s what happens after it’s painted that is the big difference. A manufacturer will bake the oven at very heat so the glaze forms a strong enamel. This is what is known as porcelain. It is very strong, quite resilient to pressure, scratching, heat and even chemicals. Therefore, strong cleansers like bleach can be used to clean them with no worries of the tub being negatively affected by it. A refinished tub is different in that it spray painted and baked (cured) under room temperature and this is the key….
With a refinished tub, the paint is applied and the curing happens under room temperature and it doesn’t form into porcelain. It forms a hard enamel, but not the same, not as thick and not as resilient as if it would if it was baked under high heat. The tubs look the same, feel similar, but the refinished tub has an enamel that is actually porous and therefore it requires a little more pampering. Bleach will go through the top coat layers of paint and will oxidize the primer coats causing it to turn yellow.
Bleach and other harsh chemicals are never to be used on a reglazed bathtub as they will oxidize the primer paints, yellowing the tub and causing the glaze to eventually crack and peel off. Furthermore, abrasives like Comet, Ajax, SOS, VIM and the like, powdered or liquid versions, with bleach or even without bleach, will ruin the glaze. Abrasives will scratch the glaze which will eventually cause chipping and peeling. Pads, dried sponges and brushes are also no-no’s as they will also rub or scratch off the glaze.
You’re probably asking yourself what’s safe to use when cleaning your refinished bathtub. Well, the good thing is that there are lots of things you can use. Check out our posting on “Cleaning products that could be used on a reglazed tub”.