6 Tips for Painting a Shower Surround

paint brush and color swatch
  • 3-24 hours
  • Intermediate
  • $60-100
What You'll Need
Water-resistant paint
Fine-grit sandpaper
Trisodium phosphate, better known as TSP
Isopropyl alcohol
Silicon caulk

An old shower surround can be a very ugly thing. If you move into a house and the shower just isn’t right, you need to paint that shower surround. It’s the cheapest and simplest solution. There are ways to make the job simpler, so it will go faster and the results will be a great deal better.


Before you even think about painting, you have the give the shower surround a complete cleaning. Not only do you need to remove all the soap scum and debris, you also need to eliminate all the body oils that might have accumulated.

The best way to do this is by using trisodium phosphate, better known as TSP. Use warm water with it and scrub thoroughly before you dry off the shower stall with an old towel. Ensure that the entire shower stall is dry. Run your fingertips over it and see if there’s an oily feel to the surface. If there is, wash it all again.


The next thing is to remove the caulking, as you don’t want to paint this. It can easily be scraped off, but you need to be thorough. You’ll apply new caulk later, once the new paint has dried in the shower stall. This will help it look fresh.

It’s also necessary to remove the caulking as paint won’t adhere to silicon caulk. When the caulk has all gone, clean off the area with isopropyl alcohol to remove all the last traces of the caulk.


Use very fine grit sandpaper on the shower surround. You only need to sand lightly to roughen the surface, which will help the paint stick to the shower surround. Clean it off with a tack cloth.


Apply primer to the shower surround. Use making tape to tape the areas around it and put drop cloths on the floor. Use a paintbrush to apply the primer. This will make sure you achieve good coverage and get into all the nooks and crannies.


Use water-resistant paint. Apply a thin coat. You don’t want to try and achieve complete one-coat coverage. It’s better to use several thin coats.

Depending on the instructions from the manufacturer, you might need to sand the first coat of paint lightly after it’s dried. It’s best to use a spray gun for applying the paint to achieve a smooth finish. Always wear a mask and safety goggles when applying the paint, and make sure the bathroom is well ventilated.


After the new paint has dried on the shower surround you can apply new silicon caulk for the shower surround and it will look every bit as new. Allow ample time to dry before using the shower.