How to Repair This Tub?

The bath tub has rust and holes in the side, up top near the rim.

Rello tried a patch job, but it's rusting through again/didn't hold.

Any advice on how to best fix this, please? :(

Not a handy person and know zilch about bathrooms, but I'm assuming that this bathtub is a metal base with a porcelain coating.

Wondering if the whole tub needs replacing instead… It's something I'd like to avoid as I'm assuming the cost of that is huge, plus the paranoia of having extra people in the place during these days

Pic of the damage -


  • Looks pretty bad. Depending on the size of your tub, a replacement acrylic tub isn't super expensive ~$150-$300?

    • Plus a few hundred for someone to remove and dispose of the old one and install the new one.

      • It's surrounded by tiles - would all of that have to be redone?

        • Very likely, unless they can somehow remove the old tub without breaking any…

          • @John Kimble: Thanks, and I'm guessing that would add more to final cost? A couple hundred more?

            I saw a Bunnings thread where someone mentioned InnerBath and putting in a bath liner instead. When I glanced at the website, it sounds like a new layer that is installed on top of the existing bath.

            Would that be any better/more cost effective, do you know, please?

            Though I'm having a horrible thought that the original bath underneath could be rusting away and I'd never know until it collapses under someone….

            • @Melencir: I got an inner bath done regionally.. was about $850 installed.

              • @elgrande: Thanks! 850 covers the new tub, disposal of old, installation and tiling? How long did the process take?

                • @Melencir: The inner bath sits over the existing tub, so no disposal or tiling needed. Was completed withing a couple of hours and ready to use after about 12 hours.

                  • @elgrande: Oh! Doh it didn't strike me you were talking about the inner bath I mentioned, sorry. Been flipping through too many websites and forums.

                    Huh 12 hours before use -I remember reading that installation was about 3 hours, but missed that part.

                    How has the use and maintenance been since installation? I saw a website somewhere that said if bath liners are improperly done, there could be leakage or mould between the layers :(

  • I'm guessing you'd need to sand it down and repaint it?

    • Yeah that's what happened the first time, and it rusted again weeks later. Guessing it wasn't done properly the first time, or problem was worse than we thought

      • Yeah, I'm guessing not all rust was removed and/or the enamel wasn't dried properly before exposure to water after.

        • Would it be worth trying to strip it all and trying again? I'm worried the second time, if it doesn't work again, makes the damage even worse

  • That pic makes it look like the rust is under the lip, if so the only way to repair it properly will be to pull the tub out.

    • Really? Was afraid of that :( thanks, mapax

    • Make sure the rust on the lip is removed properly as you will on the whole affected area, you can scratch up behind with a paint scraper, a thin piece of sheet metal can be pushed between the tub and the tiles to protect them, the whole job cleaned with turps or polyurethane thinner treated with phosphoric acid once all rust is removed back to black metal, etch primer and several coats of polyurethane, to stop the rust up behind between the tiles and the back of the lip of the tub, Penetrol should be sprayed up there, you can carefully but firmly push back the tiles with the palm of your hand, Penetrol runs into places and seals up untreated rust, you should tap plastic to catch excess Penetrol, it super thin yet seals rusty surfaces like nothing else.

  • Yowsers, I reckon that one could be dead. At the very least it looks like it's going to need professional attention if you don't really know what you're doing and want to do anything more than patch it up a bit to get a bit more life out of it. I would imagine you've quite possibly got the seeds of rust elsewhere that may pop up shortly even if not visible right now.

    My bet is that it's probably time to bite the bullet and replace the bath. As others have mentioned though, you may need to steel yourself for the costs depending upon what you're trying to achieve. If it's literally just "replace the bath" you'll be up for its cost, removal of current, install of new, waterproofing, new tiles, new tile install. Plenty of times a replacement bath ends up triggering a bathroom renovation if you want matching tiles, etc., not to mention what might be found once the current bath is removed.

    • Oh damn that sounds like a huge job.

      Problem is that this is a unit rental. I'm happy and willing to try to organise something and pay myself as it happened during my tenancy, but that's starting to sound like I have to involve the landlord and the body corp.

      I mainly want the patch fixed and not get worse. I do like the landlord though, so I'd like to try to do right by him too.

      • Ah, tricky situation. Yes, what I've mentioned in "worst case" situation is a big job.

        I think I'd still take a look into bath tub restoration professionals. You may yet be able to get a professional job that at least resolves the immediate issues in the 100s, not 1,000s range.

        I'm certainly not a DIY guy, but by the look of it, if it's possible, you'll need to be aggressive in cutting out that rust. You need to make sure every bit of rust is gone before you go anywhere else. You've then got to talk about an appropriate rust inhibiter, filler, primer, top coat, etc. There are a number of pretty advanced products available these days so it might be doable. Maybe get a series of photos and see if you can find someone that knows what they're talking about down at hardware shop and see if anything's possible,

        • Thanks. Andyc1 mentioned the rust too and provided some product links.

          I'm starting to lean towards getting a pro in, given how we stuffed up the first time.

          Don't suppose you have any recommendations?

          • @Melencir: 'Fraid not on the recommendations front. As ever, your best bet is local guys that come with a recommendation. You might try a local community group of Facebook or something of that nature. I've had a couple of good results that way on other matters.

    • Agree.
      Past its Use by Date well and truly.
      As OP is renting, this is the landlord's problem.

  • Looks like you did not neutralize the rust before you painted.

    I suggest looking up on what the treatment is to fix rusting steel. The steps are:
    1) Remove all surface rust
    2) Paint with rust converter ( )
    3) IMHO undercoat with Rust-Oleum Zinsser as it's allot better than Dulux etc (
    4) Overcoat with an oil based white paint that is for tubs, like or similar

    Make sure you take your time and ensure that each step is done correctly following the instructions and allow extra time for the undercoat & top coats to dry before use. Make sure there is no steam in the bathroom while you are fixing the bath.

    a) get it professionally refinished. Google "bath refinishing" and get some quotes..


    Gut bathroom and replace.

    • Ohh thanks so much for the steps and the links to the products!

      I'll read through and see how comfortable I am with it.

      But if I go down the professional route - don't suppose you have any recommendations? This would be for inner west

      • Or you could buy a new tub and decorate it with the same kind of designs.

        • Uh….I think that was a tongue in check response but, could you clarify that please?

          Decorate a new bath tub with what designs?

          • @Melencir: Those little swirls and flourishes. I bet you can just buy tiles that look a lot like that and clad any bath in it.

            • @AustriaBargain: Oh! Ok get it

              That's the original tiles and it goes all around.

              The tub is also flushed up against the corner, so I'm assuming if the tub needs replacing, parts of the tiles on the wall will need to go too. And possibly all of it if the owner wants the colour to all match. That sounds like a major piece of work that I would have to discuss with the owner and body corp

              I've also had a sudden thought - I'm hoping that if the owner wants to go down that route, I don't get evicted to allow the renovation to go on….

              • @Melencir: Oh right, you're renting. You don't own it. If you scratch or graze yourself on that rusty tub the landlord will be paying your medical costs, with the money he saves on letting it get to that state. How long since your last tetanus shot?

                • @AustriaBargain: I thought I'd be liable as it occurred during my tenancy?

                  Though to be honest I have no idea if the problem actually existed before, and I didn't notice. I think the place is 50+ years - would it be a consequence of wear and tear?

                  Hmm I'm not sure about the shot now that you mention it… Woohoo :(

                  • @Melencir: Nah the owner would have to pay, not you. The owner is responsible for maintenance that needs to be done such as fixing or replacing the bathtub. Its not deliberate damage caused by you.

                    • @jayboi: Oh thank you, that does lift some worry off my shoulders.

                      Now I'm just back to worrying about whether the owner will think it's easier to evict, then fix, and relist at a higher rent. Wheeee

      • NO recommendations, but make sure you read the reviews and ask at work the people who have renovated what they did with the bathroom tub or people who have bought old houses what they did with the old tubs.

        I would recommend you get a copy of the warrantee docs and read them before getting professional help as there are a number of things that are NOT covered under the warranty. I was renting and then bought then place and the tub "respray" lasted okay for 7 or 8 years and then started to wear.

        • Ok, thank you for the heads-up and the advice. Appreciate it. That sounds the same as some of the reviews for a company I googled - their warranty lasted for only 7 years and I gather that it was necessary to have to maintain to their specific instructions and their cleaning product.

          I know there are units around here that have had the bathrooms renovated though, from looking at the pictures on property websites, and have seen bath tubs junked in the garbage room.

  • The landlord should be replacing it. It wasn't your fault it ended up like that and you shouldn't be up for the cost of fixing it. Does the landlord know about it yet? Maybe you can arrange to go on holiday for a few days while they fix it.

    • He knows it's there, and did actually suggest I try a patch job. So that was why I started with that.

      But maybe it's worse than either of us thought it was :( or our patch job was not good enough, and didn't get all the rust like the others in the thread commented.

      • Don't worry about the landlord. Maintenance is part and parcel of the job - one reason people may choose to rent is to not have to worry about things like this. Ask them to replace the bath.

        • That's exactly why I chose to rent actually.

          But I felt the landlord was nice allowing the tenancy to go on for so long, and hasn't raised the rent for some time. That provided a lot of stability in my life that I am grateful for, and would hope I can continue on as long as I can. So I wanted to try and do what I can.

  • Having worked in the Automotive paint industry, first thing is to remove the rust, with a wire brush or cupped wire brush on an angle grinder or similar alternative to scrub off the rust, wipe down with a solvent preferably polyurethane thinner, treat with phosphoric acid by following the instructions on the bottle (the main ingredient in rust converter and the only thing used in the trade) this converts the surface oxide to a polymer that is sticky and ready for the Etc primer (white enamel etc primer) over the etc primer paint a final coat of polyurethane.

    • Thanks! The first time around, I think just sand paper was used, and there was worry that too much of the tub would be stripped off. And that the holes would be bigger.

      Guess that first cleaning should have been more aggressive, based on your and everyone else's feedback

      • "I think just sand paper was used"

        It's hard to remove more than what has flaked and oxidized with sand paper and wire brushes, go hard and get off every bit of all loose rust till it's just black iron, even a cupped wire brush on an angle grinder won't damage what's still good, I'd tape up the tiles with masking tape or jam some thin sheet metal between the bath and the tiles, it looks like there might be rust forming on the lip that faces downwards, using a metal paint scraper make sure this is removed and also sand that and make sure you get Phos acid up there, after painting several top coats (metal boats get 5 coats of Polyurethane and the same pretreatment as described here) I'd spray some penetrol up there, it does come in a spray can I believe but when rustproofing cars I often used quality metal bottled hand mist sprayers, that stuff penetrates and seals of active rust without you treating it, have seen a handyman paint an Air Conditioning unit on a holiday house by the beach with it, then add it to enamel paint and paint that over it, the thing lasted 13 yrs before repainting and he didn't even scrub the surface, just wiped it with some turps to clean it.

        • Thank you for the detailed information! Will need to read up up this since it's not something we've done before.

  • You scrub every bit of the rust till it's a solid surface, immediately wipe clean with a thinner, pref the thinner used in the paint then immediately treat with phos acid and soon after paint with etch primer, which also has phos acid in it, wait the required time and do your top coats, new car parts including the chassis are prepared for painting by completely immersing them in phos acid, though different paints the technique is the same.