How to Paint an Iron Clawfoot Tub

UPDATE: See the tub in its new home here

It’s actually way easier than I thought!


When we decided to install a “baby” clawfoot tub in the upstairs guest bathroom, we found an old, very dirty, rusty tub that fit the bill.  We discussed several colors, but ultimately decided to keep it simple and go with black.  We figured it’s easier to change out shower curtains and bath linens than to repaint a tub!




Step 1: Clean out the inside, then flip the tub over to paint.  We used the shop vac to vacuum out all the dirt and dust, then Comet to clean.

IMG_4683{My pretty mama hard at work.}

Step 2: Scrape all the paint, rust, etc. that you can off the outside of the tub.  We used a wall scraper and sanding blocks, but you could also use a pumice stone.



Fun fact- the tub was made in August 1924.


Step 3: After the tub feels as smooth and even as possible, paint on a coat of Rustoleum primer.  We went with brown since we were painting a dark color.




Step 4: Once the primer has dried completely, paint with Rustoleum in your color choice.  We went with interior/exterior gloss black.  Add more coats as necessary.



See, I told you it was easy!  (Update: see this tub in it’s new home here!)

After 6

Next up, the master bathroom tub.  We’re going with a high-gloss white for this one.


A big thanks to my mom and mom-in-law for all your help with this project! :)

UPDATE: You can see the complete transformation of our black and white guest bathroom here!

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77 comments on “How to Paint an Iron Clawfoot Tub

  1. I have a claw foot tub, but the enamel on inside is really damaged. Do you recommend a product to refinish the inside of tub?? My husband says get rid of it but I want to reuse and preserve the history.

    1. Repairing and refinishing the inside of a tub is a job for the professionals. We had to have a newer tub refinished and while it wasn’t cheap it was a lot less than replacing the tub. Enamel is a somewhat difficult surface to work with for the typical DIY-er. But if the tub is going to be replaced in the short term anyway, go for it.

  2. I would have never guessed you could paint a tub!! Learn something new everyday!!
    Thank you for joining in on #ThrowBackThursday!

  3. I love this! So jealous of both of your tubs. I so hope I can get one for my future dream home! Thank you for sharing with Making Monday!!

  4. That tub is absolutely gorgeous! Even though I am not a “take a bath” kind of girl – I adore claw foot tubs. You did an amazing job of refinishing it and should be very proud of yourself (and your wonderful mothers)! Thanks for sharing at #throwbackthursdaylinkup

    1. Thanks for popping by, Heather! Strangely, I’m not a bad person either…but I do love this tub! :)

    1. Hi Holly! It really was pretty simple, and only took about a day. You could definitely do it!

  5. Did you guys hang a shower curtain rod for the baby clawfoot or will it be just a bathtub? I am having the worst time finding an attractive shower rod for a 48″ tub.

  6. What an incredible transformation! I love that you painted the bottom black. Very classy. Thank you SO much for sharing at the Frugal Crafty Home Blog Hop. You will be featured this Sunday @ 8pm C. Hope you have a lovely Memorial Day weekend :)

    1. Thanks for having me, Katie, and for the feature! We were so excited with how this one turned out! :)

  7. Thank you so much for sharing at Redouxinteriors. I can’t believe the difference from the before. The tub is absolutely gorgeous in the after.

  8. Wow, beautiful. One thing I couldn’t tell did you use Rustoleum spray paint? I think they also make traditional paint … And if you used traditional paint, did you use a roller or brush? Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Jessica! We did not use Rustoleum spray paint…it was out of the can. Because we had to do it inside that just seemed more logical for us. We also used a brush instead of a roller. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  9. I love your tub
    I’m proud to say I just redone mine,
    A wonderful gift from my daughter.
    I also painted mine glossy black.
    And couldn’t be happier.
    I did it in one day and now the floor
    And we have a brand new old bathroom

  10. Hi My name is Kristen, && I know this posting is almost a year old. But I came across this in search for finding best options to re-due my claw foot tub.. I am wondering what type or brand of paint you used for the interior mostly… … but exterior as well. I love it looks great & classy as all above have stated !! && would like to mine exact colors. My biggest problem right now with this tub tho is the inside drives me nuts cause it was previously painted by prev home owners… & its chipping/ chips every time is cleans or rinsed with high pressure after a shower.
    I know this reply may not be answered, cause its close to a year later. But if seen id greatly appriciate the advice && look forward to starting my project ; )
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Kristen! Thanks for stopping by! We actually got lucky and didn’t have to do anything with the inside of the tub other than a deep cleaning. It was in pretty good shape, so we just used comet powder, a pumice stone, and lots of elbow grease to clean it. We used Rustoleum paint for the exterior. Here’s a good tutorial for reglazing the inside of a tub:

      Hope that helps! Good luck!! :)

  11. Great job, I have a questions about the inside of the tub. What did you do to refurbish it? Do you use it regularly and how is it holding up? We have acquired a claw foot in good shape with the exception of the inside which looks like someone “attempted” to change colors and there are runs and some unknown substance on the upper lip. Any info would be appreciated.

  12. Hi Kevin, thanks for stopping by! I’ll refer you to the comment above by Kristen. We did not refurbish the interior, just scrubbed it. You can see my sources and a helpful how-to link above.

    This tub has held up great for us! It was the only functioning tub/shower in the house for a while, so we used it regularly and had no problems. Good luck with yours!! :)

  13. We are doing our claw tub by stripping it first. What if all the paint won’t come off after stripping it and what would be a good color for primer if we are going to paint it maroon or burgundy on the outside. We will have the top done professionally.

    1. Hi Diana! We weren’t able to get every last bit of paint off when we were stripping it. We used a pumice stone and just tried to buff if out as much as possible. I could only find primer in white and brown…if you are going with a darker color, I would suggest using the brown. Good luck! I’d love to see it when you finish! :)

      1. I was able to strip as much as possible from our claw tub.We found a dark red primer from Rustoleum paint .Will the paint hold up when l spray it on the outside or will it peel? We will have the inside done professionally. How many cans of maroon spray paint will l need to paint the outside ?

  14. We are stripping the outside of our claw tub. What if all the paint doesn’t come all off and what would be a good color primer if we are going to paint it maroon or burgundy

    1. Hi Diana! We couldn’t get every last bit of the paint off. We just sanded and buffed as much as possible so there were no rough edges. If you look closely though, you can see where some spots are higher than others. But that just gives it more vintage character, right? :)

      The only Rustoleum primers I was able to find were white and a dark reddish brown. Not sure if that’s the one you’re talking about. I would definitely go with the brown if you plan to paint it maroon or burgundy. Shoot me a picture when you finish. I’d love to see! :)

  15. I was wondering if I should roll or use a brush for the bottom side off the tub. My wife wants
    White gloss. I will be using a primer as well. All sanded what should’ I clean it with before

    1. Hi Martha! It has held up really well. We did not do anything to the interior of the tub…I’m not sure how it would hold up if the inside was painted. But Rustoleum on the exterior is awesome! Just make sure to sand and prime it first. Good luck!

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