If you’ve ever had your bathtub reglazed you’ll be very aware of the smell that accompanies that process. It is a strong, acrid odor that burns your eyes, nose and throat.
How to get rid of the smell from reglazing a tub is an important question so let’s take a look at it.
If you want to get rid of the smell from reglazing a tub you will need very good ventilation during the work and afterward. Opening a window is not enough, and you should use a proper air scrubber.
What Causes Smell From Reglazing Tub?
The smell from reglazing a tub comes from the chemicals used in the process. When you reglaze a tub you remove the old finish and replace it with a new one. This releases fumes into the space where the work is being done.
We’ll never forget the first time we reglazed our tub – the smell burned throughout the entire house! Without any clue of how to get rid of it, we lived with that smell for days.
How Reglazing Works
Reglazing a bathtub is a job for a professional who has the right equipment, materials and PPE. It’s not a job that you should do as a DIY project due to the hazardous nature of the chemicals.
The whole process also takes a lot of skill to do properly and to achieve the best results.
First you need to seal the bathtub off from the surrounding area and put down heavy-duty drop cloths. Then you have to scrub the surface to remove all dirt and grease from the tub.
Next you paint a strong chemical paint stripper onto the bathtub surface and leave it to lift the glaze.
Porcelain enamel is applied to the tub in powdered form and fired to harden it. For this reason it takes strong chemicals to remove the original enamel.
When the glaze has softened you can strip it off and then sand down the surface. This prepares it for the new glaze.
Methylene Chloride Fumes
The chemical used to strip the surface of a tub contains methylene chloride. It is a chlorinated solvent, and it is used for paint stripping, degreasing and cleaning metal.
You cannot smell methylene chloride until it has reached levels that are higher than OSHA’s allowed limits for exposure.
Once you can actually smell it you have already been overexposed to it. This is why ventilation, proper breathing apparatus and PPE are so important when reglazing a tub.
Are The Fumes Dangerous?
The fumes from methylene chloride are very dangerous. They have been known to be lethal to people working with them.
The gas released replaces the breathable air in the room. Bathrooms are usually small rooms, so it doesn’t require a lot for someone to be overcome with these fumes.
When you work with reglazing products you also have to get close to the product to work with it. All of these things expose you to methylene chloride and its associated health risks.
At low levels methylene chloride will enter the brain and will interfere with your concentration levels. If you come into contact with high levels of methylene chloride you may experience dizziness, headache, fatigue and nausea. You may also feel intoxicated.
Their eyes, nose and throat will also burn with the fumes. Prolonged exposure to these fumes can have dire consequences. Suffocation, loss of consciousness, coma and death can occur.
Long term exposure to methylene chloride may cause cancer.
Personal Protective Equipment
If you are using chemicals to reglaze a bathtub you should be wearing personal protective equipment. Gloves and full face air-supplied respirators are absolutely necessary and coveralls are recommended.
If you spill any of the chemical you should immediately wash it off your skin and clean it off any surfaces.
Getting Rid Of Reglazing Tub Smell
If you have someone reglazing your tub you need to ask them how they are going to get rid of the smell and the fumes.
While they will be the most directly exposed, it is you and your family’s home. So you need to make sure it’s safe for everyone.
Opening a bathroom window or using extractor fan is not enough to remove the smell when reglazing a tub. Having said that the windows should be left open to help remove the smell.
You should ventilate the room for a period of time after the reglazing has been done. Don’t restrict ventilation only to when the work is being done. The chemicals need time to dissipate and make the bathroom safe for use again.
Professional refinishers should have a portable local exhaust ventilation system. This mobile unit has a fan, flexible ducting and a hood. The hood is placed near the tub and draws the vapors and fumes out of the bathroom.
The best type of air scrubber to use are those that are also used in medical facilities. They will remove particulates from the air that cause the smell and make the room safe for use.
Reglazing Versus Refinishing
Although the words are sometimes used to mean the same thing reglazing and refinishing do not refer to the same process.
Refinishing doesn’t involve removing the original porcelain enamel of a tub. It is more about touching up and making surface or cosmetic changes to the bathtub’s surface.
Dents and chips in the surface of the tub can be fixed by rubbing down the area and covering it with a specialist enamel paint. This is something that you can do as a DIY job.
Reglazing, involves stripping off the original, powdered and hardened enamel coating. Then you need to sand down the tub and apply a complete new coat. It can give the bathtub a whole new lease of life and may last you another 10–15 years.
Getting rid of the smell from reglazing a tub is not just about removing a bad odor from your home.
You need to make sure that you and your family are not exposed to toxic or noxious chemicals during the reglazing process.
We hope you have found this guide helpful and informative.