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How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes)

I will be the first one to admit that I’m constantly prone to making mistakes in my DIYs, and there are times I think, “Boy, I’ve really messed up this time. What was I thinking?! Curse you, Pinterest!”
If you don’t believe me, just check out this post from eons ago when I thought there was no end in sight in an ugly varnish removal process from our dining room chairs. Thanks to this trick I figured out in a moment of desperation, those icky chairs had a happily ever after.
Then there was this post in one of my very first projects last year. It had a happy ending too.
My shower door spray painting project this weekend was like a total flashback.
How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House
Yes, this too ends well, and you’ll be seeing a pretty reveal later on, but if you ever find yourself in a spray painting snaffoo, I hope I can help you out here.
I took all the necessary steps in the long process of covering up everything with plastic drop cloth and taping ever so meticulously with Frog Tape (which, by the way, I prefer much more than the blue painters tape).
How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House
I used my favorite spray paint, Rust-Oleum Universal. I’ve used it countless times and I’ve always had amazing results.

 

How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw this coming. Our bathroom transformed from quarantine site to horror film in about 5 minutes.

 

How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House
Here’s where I got really nervous after the first coat. If you’re spray painting your shower, it’s okay. Breathe! Well, into your ventilator mask that is.

 

How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House
After three thin coats of the spray paint, and the finish was looking nice and even, I thought it was all going to end up beautifully after all. Oh, little naive Lauren. How wrong you were.
If you ever venture to spray paint your own shower door, here’s what NOT to do:
 
1. Don’t assume because you cleaned your shower a few days ago that it is spray paint ready.  
Wipe down your shower frame with a rag and white vinegar to break up any soap scum left behind. Spray paint absolutely won’t stick to soap residue.

 

How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House
2. Don’t let your impatience get the best of you.
I made the mistake of peeling up the Frog Tape after an hour. The paint peeled with it! So I was left with this lovely mess. Let your paint dry for a full 24 hours before dismantling your crime scene.
*Tip: Here’s how to fix peeled paint:  
I definitely didn’t want to tape all of the plastic drop cloths back up and spend hours doing all of that prep work again to fix my trouble spots. So I grabbed a deep cardboard box, my spray paint, and an artist brush to spray a little paint on the brush at a time to touch up the peeled spots.
How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House

I used a little tape again to get a crisp line. And, since I learned my lesson, I let the paint dry completely before removing the tape.

How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House
It’s still not perfect since painting around silicone caulk can be really tricky, but it’s much better and only noticeable up close.
How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House
3. Don’t cut corners by not taping any gaps where your plastic drop cloths separate.
That spray paint can travel! And it’s sneaky stuff. It actually went between and under the plastic that I had overlapped. So when I peeled up the plastic, I got this nice surprise of paint overspray.
How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House

 

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*Tip:  Here’s how to remove paint overspray from plastic and/or tile.
Nail polish remover works wonders on spray paint mistakes! I use it all the time for any permanent marker mishaps, so I figured I’d give it a try. It worked!
How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House
Soak a cotton ball with nail polish remover, scrub the spray paint spot, and it’s gone! And it really doesn’t take much elbow grease either.

 

How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House
4. Don’t assume applying painter’s tape will always give you a clean line.
Even though I get pretty great results from it, take an extra step to score tape lines with a knife. Or you’ll end up with this loveliness.
How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House

*Tip:  Here’s how to fix smudged spray paint lines.

I used nail polish remover again for the spots where spray paint leaked under the tape by soaking Q-Tips in it, and running them along the smudged lines.

How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House
Use your fingernail or a razor blade to scrape off any paint that isn’t completely removed with the nail polish remover. Ahhh nice, clean spray painted edge.

 

How NOT to Paint a Shower Door (And How to Fix Spray Paint Mistakes) | Bless'er House
I keep thinking this, but one day I should probably devote a post to Bless’er House blunders just to show y’all how many DIYs have gone horribly wrong. Sometimes the only way you can get through a bad situation is to laugh it off.
If you find yourself running into road blocks on projects, don’t give up! Learn from those mistakes, let it shape you into a smarter DIYer, and keep on with your bad self. 😉  I bet you after the next amazing project you pull off, you’ll be glad you didn’t give up.
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42 Comments

    1. In hindsight, yes, I would use the sanding, automobile primer, spray paint, spray lacquer method that I used with the fixtures. The doors still held up great, but not quite as well as the fixtures have.

  1. I notice everyone that does a shower frame refinish seems to leave the shower door frame installed. Can you tell me why? I was thinking about taking mine apart, cleaning it up, taking it outside, painting it on newspaper and then re-installing it. Is that a bad idea?

    Thanks!

    1. My reason was just because I was doing the project by myself this time around and couldn’t wrestle it outside by myself, so I just opted to do it all inside and save the hassle. You could certainly take it apart and do all of the work outside too. Totally up to you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. I’m getting ready to paint my shower door, We were able to dismantle it, quite easily. I am hoping that it will work out.

  2. How did you prep the shower frame? Also, have you consider steinless steel paint with a professional automotive primer? I’m tempted to use these paint materials. My shower frame is brass colored and I want more like a brushed nickeled finish. Keep me posted on any recent updates on your shower frame.

    1. Hi Lissette! I just cleaned the chrome frame really well with a mixture of white vinegar and dish soap, scrubbed, and rinsed thoroughly. The spray paint has primer built in. I think priming with an automotive primer before the paint would give you extra durability and you could add a top coat of spray shellac if you’d like too. The downside is you can’t be too aggressive with your scrubbing once it’s painted. I scrubbed it pretty hard before and a couple of places chipped. It’s easy to touch up, but it does make me wish I’d done that extra prep step. I figured I’d be the guinea pig for this one. I did spray paint our shower fixtures in our other bathroom using those extra steps, and it is extremely durable so far. http://www.blesserhouse.com/2015/10/how-to-spray-paint-shower-fixtures.html

  3. Hi, I was wondering how is the shower screen standing up against the da to day use and cleaning? I want to do this, but unsure of how it will look after constant use.
    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Jeanice! It has held up wonderfully! There is one spot on the shower door handle (pea-sized) that chipped off because our bathroom door opens into it and the knob bangs on the metal frame of our shower (major floor plan flaw on that one). We hope to put in a sliding barn door eventually to solve that problem, and we’ll touch it up then. It’s very easy to clean the inside since I only put the grid on the outside. I just don’t aggressively scrub the metal frame; I spray it down and wipe it.

  4. Thanks SO much for this, Lauren! I want to do ours! Loved reading this… you are too funny! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Also, thanks for the nail polish remover tip. Little secret: I was spray painting outside in the tiniest breeze a couple weeks ago and the gentle wind blew a light spray of white paint on my black new boots!!! I’m going to try removing it with that!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks friend!
    Kendra @ http://www.joyinourhome.com