The Best Paint for a Hot Tub: Give Your Cabinet a Fresh New Look
By Jennifer Rhodes · Updated
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After a few years of use, your hot tub cabinet may be showing its age. Its coloring has faded, scuff marks cover the lower half, and it's starting to look tired and worn.
This is a common problem for many hot tub owners—and you might think the only way to take care of it is by hiring a professional.
However, I have good news: you can bring your hot tub and its cabinet back to life, all by yourself, often with just a lick of weatherproof exterior house paint.
In this article, we'll cover the best paint choices for revitalizing your old hot tub cabinet.
Can you paint a hot tub cabinet?
Yes, you can! Giving your hot tub cabinet a new coat of paint is an easy, effective and affordable to restore your old spa to its former glory.
What kind of paint do you use on a hot tub?
You should look for exterior paint (the kind made for home exteriors) as this is going to be the safest and most durable for an outdoor hot tub cabinet.
The WoodScapes Exterior House Stains from Sherwin-Williams are a popular choice among hot tub manufacturers.
Why exterior paint? You need a paint that offers rot protection so you won't risk the paint flaking off just months after application.
You'll have a variety of colors to choose from, though light grays and redwoods are among the most popular for hot tub cabinets.
Then you have the optional (but recommended) step of sealing your paint, for added weather protection and waterproofing so you won't have to repaint the hot tub cabinet as often.
For that, you want a polyurethane sealant like this UV-blocking one from Minwax:
You can get stain and polyurethane in one like Minwax PolyShades, which I have also heard works well from some spa owners:
How do you paint a hot tub cabinet?
To get started painting your hot tub cabinet, you'll need the following:
- Latex stain-blocking primer
- Polyurethane sealant
- Exterior grade paint
- Mixing sticks
- Paint brushes
- Painter's tape
- Old clothes/apron
Step one: clean and prime
You'll need a stain-blocking exterior primer here:
Make sure that your cabinets are free from any dirt and debris before priming. A gentle clean with a pressure washer is a great way to do this; just be careful not to gouge any holes in the surface.
If you're working with a paint that's premixed with primer already, then give extra attention to the panels to make sure they're clean.
If your cabinet is in bad shape with any chips or blemishes, you can optionally lightly sand the surface and perform any repairs at this stage, though you might not need to.
When you prime, thoroughly cover the panels with your brush. Even strokes ensure that the paint can stick on better throughout and won't clump in certain areas.
Let the primer dry thoroughly.
Step two: paint the panels
Now you're ready to start painting.
Make sure to separate the shell of your hot tub and the panels with painter's tape. This will help prevent the paint from staining the acrylic or fiberglass.
Cover the panels with an even coating of paint according to the instructions. If you feel like the color isn't dark enough, you can always add another coat.
Take a few moments to check the cabinet panels and determine if there are any spots you missed.
Step three: apply sealant
Add a layer of sealant (or more, again refer to the instructions) to make sure that the paint is protected.
After the sealant, the cabinets on your hot tub should look glossy and more uniform.
If you've done everything right, it should be a good five years or so before you have to repaint.
Now all that's left to do is enjoy your newly revamped spa!
How do you paint a synthetic wood-like cabinet?
Nowadays, spa cabinets are more likely to be made of fake wood (composite plastic) than actual cedar.
The nice thing about these is that they are lower maintenance and don't usually require refinishing—a simple scrub with a little soap and some warm water is enough to get them clean.
However, if your composite spa cabinet has faded, a spa cover conditioner (like the kind you get for vinyl covers) can actually work very well to restore your spa exterior to its original, dark luster.
Some people have actually reported success in painting their synthetic cabinets with the Sherwin-Williams WoodScapes stain I linked at the start of this article, so that is also an option if you want to try it—but always test on a small, non-visible area of your spa first before committing.
Can you paint the interior of a hot tub?
Hot tub interiors cannot be painted. This is because the surfaces are made of fiberglass or acrylic resins that don't take paint well. What's more, even exterior paints are not designed for constant exposure to heat, water, and chemicals. The paint would peel very quickly.
However, if the acrylic or fiberglass interior of your hot tub has developed a small crack, you can paint this little part of the interior during the repair process.
You'll generally want to use epoxy here, as it isn't harmful to the interior of your hot tub. Epoxy offers long-lasting protection against minor damage to your hot tub's interior.
Another option is a Plast-aid repair kit, which can be mixed with a small amount of acrylic paint to match the interior color of your spa:
Can you paint a wooden hot tub?
Painting a wooden hot tub is definitely possible, and is in fact recommended if you want to maintain the tub's original color. Otherwise the wood will eventually fade and turn grey in appearance.
With real wood panels, you'll most likely want to sand off any blemishes (or previous coating of paint and sealant) before you begin painting them.
When you go to select paint, again make sure that you're choosing an exterior grade. This will protect against weather damage and prevent you from having to go back and do the job again in a few months.
With a wooden hot tub, you must be extra careful around top since you need to avoid getting any stain on the inside of the tub—you don't want to be soaking with that stuff.