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How to Spot Repair Your Shower Stall or Bathtub

By Kris Jensen-Van Heste

A crack or ding in a shower stall or a chip or stain in your bathtub doesn't necessarily mean it's time to replace them. There are products on the market that can patch holes, fill cracks, repair rust spots and cover up blemishes, saving you hundreds of dollars. They aren't hard to use, but you must read and follow all directions. Here's a look at some of the processes involved.

Cracks or Small Holes in Fiberglass or Acrylic

Whether it's a tub, surround or shower stall, and whether fiberglass or acrylic, the process is the same. If the hole is smaller than a quarter, you should be able to make the repairs yourself. If you're dealing with a hole larger than a quarter, you'd probably be better off buying a replacement.

Pick up a tub-repair kit from your local hardware store or home center. There are numerous brands on the market for standard colors such as white, bone or almond.

What You'll Need

  • Tub-repair kit
  • Nonabrasive cleaner
  • Putty knife if there's no applicator in your kit
  • 600-grit wet-dry sandpaper
The process across the brands is fairly similar:
  1. Clean the damaged area completely with a nonabrasive powdered cleanser such as Bon Ami. Rinse thoroughly, ensuring that there's no residue from the cleaner on the surface.
  2. If your kit directs it, apply the reinforcement tape to the crack or small hole.
  3. Combine the resin with the hardener and coloring.
  4. Spread the mixture over the tape or the damaged spot (depending on your kit), feathering out the edges and creating as smooth a surface as you can.
  5. Let the repair dry according to package directions.
  6. Sand with paper no coarser than 600-grit wet dry sandpaper, using water.

There are kits available that don't include fiberglass tape; those are no less effective. Some include epoxy mixes and hardeners that serve the same purpose.

Buy Direct - Tub/Shower Repair Kits

Chipped Cast-Iron Bathtub

Most bathtubs today are made of fiberglass or acrylic, but if you have an older home, your tub may be made of cast iron. To repair chipped paint on a cast-iron tub, you'll need:

  • Lint-free rag
  • Non-abrasive powdered cleanser, like Bon Ami
  • Porcelain paint, suitable for cast iron
Here's what to do:
  1. Remove any flaking or damaged paint from the chipped area.
  2. Clean the chipped area with the rag and cleanser, then rinse thoroughly.
  3. Apply a small amount of touch-up paint and allow to dry and cure completely according to package directions.
  4. If a great deal of paint needs to be removed, use a new straight razor blade with the blade held at nearly flat against the surface. Using at least 600-grit wet-dry sandpaper, wet the sandpaper and gently buff to smooth out any imperfections.
Unsightly Bathtub Stains

A persistent drip can easily create a ring of rust around the drain. Before you resort to replacing the tub, try these home remedies:

  • Cut a lemon in quarters, and rub the surface with the fruit. If you only have bottled lemon juice on hand, that will work as well. Next, rinse with water.
  • Scrub the area with baking soda and a sponge, then rinse with water.
  • If you still have a stain, try a solution of one part bleach to one part water, being sure to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.
  • As a last resort, try a 5% solution of oxalic acid or a 10% solution of hydrochloric acid. Ask for either one at your hardware store or home center. Dab the solution on with a rag for just a couple of seconds, then rinse thoroughly. Wear rubber gloves, a mask and safety glasses when working with those solutions.

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