Repainting the outside of a cast iron clawfoot tub...

I have gotten to the point in the bathroom redo that we need to redo the tub. Do I just use regular house paint on the outside of the tub? I was thinking of using rustoleum primer, then spraying some kind of appliance paint on the exteior. Any info would be great since I never had to restore a tub before. I think whoever owned the tub before just used house paint but I figured that there is something better to use.

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Every one of the several cast iron tubs I've restored, had standard house paint on the exterior and I really, really don't recommend it. Even if you strip it all the way down to bare metal, the whole process of actually using it as a tub, makes interior houspaint a very short-term solution and you end up having to do it all over again, really soon. The heat/cold expansion/contraction as you pour warm water in the tub is only part of the problem. High humidity, and the way the iron "sweats" when it changes temperature, makes the standard paint bubble, and ultimately peel. Regular house paint is also not designed to stick to metal. Even "kitchen & bath" paint isn't really well suited to sticking to metal. The best results I ever got (but also unfortunately the most expensive) was from enamel powder coating the exterior after having it sand blasted to get rid of the old paint. The second best result, and considerably less expensive, was accomplished by allowing a local shadetree mechanic to attack it like a car. He used bondo to fill some imperfections, sanded it, and then sprayed the exterior with an automotive grade paint. Since that paint was suitable for application on metal, and was anticipated for outdoor exposure, the bond was fantastic. The array of color choices was endless, and 15 years later, that tub still looks like it was just done yesterday. Granted, that was 15 years ago, but the cost was only $200. The biggest pain is having to muscle that beastie out of the house. Hope this helps! Good Luck!
Thanks for the info. I figured that house paint wouldn't be the way to go. Even the stuff on the tub now was put on awhile ago, but just turns to dust in some places when I touch it. There is NO WAY I am moving it back downstairs and out of the house again lol. Powder coating would be a way to do it. I can sand and bondo the tub in place (plumbing isn't hooked up yet) then try some Rust-Oleum enamel appliance paint. If I could I would use automotive paint I would do that as well.

As long as I don't use house paint, I should be good to go :)
I can't remember what we painted ours with but think it was a Rustoleum paint that is rolled on. I will tell you that using ordinary house paint is a bad idea, that is what was on there before and we had to take it in to have it sand blasted. :(
Martin, we used rustoleum enamel appliance paint (it came in a quart) and I applied it with a brush. We were fortunate to have our bathtub sitting upside down in our hallway prior to installation, so I was able to paint the entire belly surface. There was no way we were going to take that tub back outside, either!! That was January, 2001, and it has held up very good so far.
I stripped and primered the tub... and painted one of the feet. So far it is coming out great! I plan on using rustoleum epoxy appliance paint to see how good it is. Yeah, it is upside down in the future bathroom being redone. There is no way I am going to move this heavy tub out of the room lol. I did find out it was built on May 5th 1910 :)
This is awfully interesting. My tub was painted by the previous owner prior to selling to me in 1994. I have to assume they did it like they did everything else including doorknobs and the arts & crafts tile on the fireplace - by spraying. Funny enough, it's the only paint in the bathroom that's held up well.
On ours we used (I think) and oil based enamel. So far, after 2 1/2 years, no bubbles, rust or staining coming through. We didn't go all the way down to bare metal though. We covered what was there after sanding.

Great info guys! We stripped all old paint off, sanded, primered, then used epoxy enamel. It turned out really nice. We even redid the inside of the tub. Here are some pictures of the end result.

Here is a before picture:

Looks great! I like the goldtone feet.
thanks!! the tub actually looks even better in person. I figured that we did a pretty good job at our first try at doing something like this. :)
How did you refinish the inside?

I bought this brush on kit from Lowes. They had a spray kind or the brush kind. The guy there said the brush kind had no complaints. It came out really nice I have to admit for the cost of 30 bucks :) We are pretty happy with it.


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