Makeover - How to Paint a Rolltop Bath

August 01, 2016

You may have realised that I love a rolltop bath. Love love love them. I mean, I named this blog after them. The Americans call them 'clawfoot tubs' but Roses & Clawfoots just didn't have the same ring to it. I get asked all the time on Instagram if we painted our bath. We did. And how we did it. I wrote a bit about it on the last house update post {here} and talked about painting our old rolltop in our last bathroom {here}. But for now I thought I'd recap and make it a bit easier to find for everyone.

There are two main types of rolltop baths - those made from plastic and those made from cast iron. We've had experience with both. The cast iron baths are the 'real deal' if you like, and classic. They hold the heat in when you're sinking into your hot bath. However they're ridiculously heavy {getting our old bath up a flight of stairs nearly killed Ben, my Dad and his brother!} and they're more expensive. The inside of them is also likely to be enamel which can react to cleaning products and be a pain to maintain. Plastic baths tend to be a lot cheaper, are more lightweight and easy to move and easier to clean. If you paint them well - you can barely tell the difference once in a bathroom.

For our current bathroom we picked up this bath from eBay, it's from the Heritage range of  and is plastic rather than cast iron. It was white to start with but we knew we wanted to paint it a dark grey. 

To paint a plastic bath: you'll need to use a primer first. We use this one to coat everywhere that you want to paint. Once it's dry you can paint on your colour. Use eggshell paint. We needed two coats and used Farrow & Ball Eggshell paint in Plummett. You'll only need a small tin. 

To paint a cast iron bath: You shouldn't need to prime it, most baths come pre-primed so you should be able to use eggshell paint straight onto it. 

Don't layer it on too thickly and use a brush for best results.

You can decide if you want to paint the feet the same colour, a contrasting colour or leave them as they come. In our last bathroom we painted the bath and feet the same colour, in this one we've left them black for now as they came but I'm planning on painting them either white or the same grey as the bath. I don't think the black is quite right.

I was tempted with a pink bath originally! But as we've got a pink sink unit {here} the grey was better for a contrast and a bit more classic.

That's pretty much it! We've got another bath sitting in our spare room for when we get round to splitting the large front bedroom and creating an en-suite. That's a cast iron one {with dolphins painted on it right now...} which is pretty rusty. I'll do the DIY post on that make-over when we get round to it! Oh and a little note about pricing. We've never paid more than £200 for a rolltop bath but all three of ours have been bought through eBay and driving across the country to pick them up! Two have come from the Cotswolds and one from Kent so it's worth looking on there.

The bathroom is nearly finished, we just need to find and fit a towel rail in here. Full post coming soon!

R <3 xx 

a photo from our old bathroom:

You Might Also Like


  1. Hello :-)

    Love this blog post- I picked up our rolltop this morning and it is currently midnight blue... lovely! I have picked out my F&B paint and just wondered if the 750ml tin was enough to cover your bath? Thank you x

  2. Your bathroom makeover blog is so informative.Your explanation is so impressive. Ireally like your blog keep it up.
    Tub Enclosure in Manassas VA

  3. Looking to do just this and have stumbled across your blog in the research process. Thanks for this article, very helpful! Where did you get your taps from please? x

  4. This is so useful - thank you for setting it all out so clearly!

  5. I found your explanation really helpful - I'm just about to embark on a bathroom makeover and desperate to upgrade my existing acrylic roll top bath by painting the exterior shell lemon. You mentioned that you used Farrow & Ball - was this just 'normal' paint after you applied the primer or was it a specialist acrylic based paint? Any (further!) advice would be helpful! Thank you. Lyndsey.


@rvk_loves on Instagram