01-24-2011 01:58 PM
Hello again uwiwarren,
We meet again, this time for your bath tub debacle. I have worked a number of years at my store's paint department as well as our cleaning aisle, so lets get down to business of getting your tub to look new again without doing an entire rehaul and demolition of the tub.
As you said, you can buy a cleaning agent that can help bring it back to white, but if it is enamel on an iron or steel tub, the coating and substrate of the tub can make it difficult to completely get it back to what it was, if at all. Also, depending on what is on (or off) the tub will factor in if you can repaint the tub itself . To really get it back to that look of bright white you wanted out of your old tub, consider using a tub and sink painting kit from your local home center. To make sure I'm getting the right product for you, I just got off the phone with a representative from the Homax company and they make an epoxy Tub and Tile Repair Epoxy finish available in either spray or brush on. Spraying on the tub after it has been prepped and cleaned will give the tub itself a nice smooth finish, but brushing on also has benefits in any hard to reach areas and with its self-leveling formula, it leaves less brush marks on the finish. Here is a picture of both kits so you can see both great products:
As in the pictures above, prepping the surface is key to getting the look you want out of your tile. You may hear people using acids or chemicals to take off the existing enamel for preparation, but the representative from Homax assured me that all you need to take off is a fine layer by way of the steel wool to get the surface ready for the paint. And since you've already worked hard with cleaners to get any oily residue and/or stains off the tub that is on there now. The best part is, the kit has everything you need to get the look you want without costly tear outs of the tub.
I hope this is the right solution for your tub issue, and if it is not, please let me or any of us here on the community know!
I am a 12 year Home Depot Store Associate, trained and authorized to help people on the Internet.