If you want a quick and budget-friendly fix to make your dated bathroom look fresh and modern, try painting your shower door frame black! Here’s my DIY tutorial with all of my tips on how to do it right (and how not to make the same mistakes I made too!).
When we moved into our house 2.5 years ago, I didn’t mind our master bathroom. It was kind of plain, but really wasn’t something I wanted to focus on renovating right away.
Funny enough, when I started this project, I wasn’t even planning to paint our shower frame at the time! I was tired of seeing the yucky silicone caulk at the bottom of the shower, and I knew our grout needed to be repaired and sealed.
After spending a couple days scraping caulk from the shower seams (that is a JOB, let me tell you), I got the idea that I would take our metal shower frame and level it up a bit. That’s what happens when your mind wanders while doing tedious work!
Painting your shower door frame really isn’t difficult at all! It’s pretty budget friendly (especially when you compare the cost to the end result), and the biggest “cost” is the time it takes to do all the prep work.
So if you’re looking to paint your shower frame, here is exactly what I did – along with a few tips on what not to do!
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- painter’s tape
- plastic drop cloth, kraft paper (not my favorite), or cut up garbage bags – I used all 3 and definitely prefer plastic materials over paper for this project
- Rustoleum spray primer
- Rustoleum spray paint
- utility knife or razor blade
- nail polish remover
- lots of paper towels
- 3M respirator mask (this is optional but honestly I recommend using this if you are working with any kind of paint sprayer – it’s just a good idea to protect your lungs from the dust)
I do recommend Rustoleum spray paint and primer here, but you can use any brand that you prefer. Or at least, I assume you can – I just can’t speak to how well they hold up because I haven’t used other brands for this type of project.
I ordered my primer from Amazon and found the spray paint I wanted at Home Depot. You can also purchase cans of spray paint at your local hardware stores if you like.
How to Paint Your Shower Door Frame
Step 1: Clean Your Shower
Do not think you can skip this part and it will be ok. It won’t. You can’t make paint stick to soap scum, so clean your shower and the metal frame really well.
You can use any commercial cleaners that you prefer, or mix equal parts vinegar and Dawn dish soap and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing.
I’ve also heard good things about Dawn Powerwash (everyone raves about it in the cleaning group on Facebook) and I bought a bottle but I haven’t tried it yet myself.
If you are choosing to redo your silicone caulk at the same time, you can also remove the existing caulk now. I used a metal putty knife (be careful not to scratch your shower) and a razor blade to remove all the discolored and mildewy caulk in my shower.
Make sure everything is fully dry before moving on. I actually waited a couple of days after our last shower and cleaning before starting to prep.
Step 2: Sand the Shower Frame
Full disclosure here: I did not spend a lot of time on this step. I took a sheet of 120 grit sandpaper and lightly rubbed it over the stainless steel frame. That’s it.
I didn’t do a lot of scrubbing, just enough to scuff up the finish a bit so that the primer and paint would stick better.
If you don’t have any sandpaper on hand, you can likely get the same results by using steel wool. I haven’t tried this method, but it’s another good option for scuffing metallic finishes.
Once you’ve sanded everything (get behind the door handle too!), wipe down all of the surfaces once more with a damp cloth. Let it all dry and you’re ready to paint!
Just kidding – there’s more prep to do.
Step 3: Put Painter’s Tape Around the Shower Frame
You’ll find that there is a whole lot of prep work for this small project. But if you want the best results, you’ve got to do it right.
Carefully line up your tape with the edges of your metal shower frame. You don’t want to end up with crooked tape lines, so this is important.
Tape along the edges of your entire shower, including around your glass panels, around the outside of the shower stall, and inside of the shower (if you are painting the inside of the frame).
Step 4: Protect Your Entire Bathroom
Yes, your ENTIRE BATHROOM. I chose those words on purpose. You may only be spraying a brass shower frame, but that spray paint can go everywhere. It’s worse than glitter.
And learn from my personal experiences – the corners are the trickiest spots! You may think you have them all taped up and sealed off, but check and check again. Add more tape if you aren’t sure.
In the list of materials above, I mentioned that you can use a few different options here – kraft paper (I started with this to cover the outer shower glass), plastic drop cloths (I used this to cover the walls, tub, and inside of the shower stall), or trash bags that have been cut down the sides and folded open (I used this on some of the glass and it gave the BEST coverage – no leaking compared to the kraft paper which is heavier).
Your bathroom will look like a crime scene, no kidding.
But like I said, the dust from the primer and the spray paint will get everywhere. It went behind and under the tarp that I had pinned on the opposite wall, all over my tile floor, and even somehow blew under my double doors and got onto my bedroom carpet.
The good news is that this paint powder residue is really easy to clean up with just a damp paper towel. It will take a lot of paper towels haha, but it wipes up easily.
That is – except for any areas that are slightly dirty. It will stick to those spots more than others. My sink was honestly cleaned like 2 days before this, and you couldn’t even tell it was dirty until I started wiping paint dust out of it. I guess I didn’t rinse my toothpaste as well as I thought I did.
Step 5: Apply the Primer
This is an important step that I probably wouldn’t have thought of myself, but Lauren from Blesser House has a great blog post on spray painting your bathroom faucets (she has also painted her shower door frame too) and told me that the primer was an important thing to use.
I love Rustoleum spray paint, and went with this Rustoleum exterior grade metal primer. It’s basically an automobile primer and is a rust inhibitor – which is pretty important when you’re working with metal in a very humid area.
It also helps the paint to adhere to the shower frame and not chip or wear as quickly.
I actually ordered this primer from Amazon and thought I was getting the gray paint color, but they sent me black primer instead. It turned out to be fine because obviously I’m painting my shower door frame black; but at the same time I think gray might’ve been better because then I could tell more easily when the primer was fully covered by the actual spray paint.
Either way, it turned out fine.
Sorry, no pics of this part! I didn’t want to take my phone into the bathroom and I was trying to work as quickly as possible so I could get back out!
Make sure you shake the can really well, and then start spraying it on the shower frame. I held the can upright and applied an even layer of metal primer, being sure not to spray too much in one spot. This seemed to be very easy to run, although I didn’t end up with any big spots.
If you do, just leave it and let it dry. You can always go back and sand it down a little bit with a fine grit sandpaper if needed.
This primer dries very quickly, and after the first coat was dry I applied a second coat. I made sure to look in all the little areas that might be easy to miss – in the corners, in different angles around any crannies, and even behind the handles and on top of the doors.
If you need to, you can go back and add a third coat on any spots that didn’t seem to get good coverage. Once the primer is dry – which isn’t very long – you’re ready to move on to the actual painting process!
Step 6: Spray Paint Your Shower Door Frame
The moment you’ve been waiting for! It’s time to paint that shower frame.
In the same way you applied the primer, you’re going to apply your coats of spray paint – smooth, even, light coats of paint. After shaking up the spray bottle really well, I always test a little spray paint onto my plastic cloth before spraying the metal door.
I was taught that and I suppose it’s best practice, but it lets me make sure the paint is mixed well enough and check to see if I’m holding the can far enough from what I’m spraying.
I put three full coats of paint on my shower frame, and even went back one last time to look for any spots that might have been missed. Then I realized I still had paint in my can and just gave the whole thing a fourth coat of paint for good measure.
The actual paint application doesn’t take a long time at all. As soon as the paint is dry to the touch, you’re ready to clean up.
Step 7: Remove the Painter’s Tape and Clean Up
If there’s a part of a project that I dislike the most (even more than the prep), it’s cleaning up. BUT – the best thing about this part is you get to see your new shower door frame!
Start by clearing out all the plastic and drop cloths that you used to protect 90% of your bathroom. Be careful to fold the plastic inward and not let it rub all over you and your clothes or you’ll end up with an even bigger mess when the paint powder rubs off on you.
(Trust me on this.)
Then pull off the tape and the plastic that you used to protect your glass doors and the inside of your shower. With all of this out of the way, you are ready for the final reveal!
The important part here is to make sure you don’t peel up any of the paint when you remove the tape. You can use a utility knife or razor blade to lightly score along the edge of the tape so you have a clean line when you pull it up.
Truthfully, I did this maybe twice and then decided to risk it without using a blade. I didn’t have any trouble with the paint peeling off and ruining my pretty tape lines. I also knew I would be applying caulk over some of the edges, which would blur or cover any slight imperfections anyway.
If you do have any oops spots with the paint peeling, I learned an easy fix for that! Get a deep cardboard box and use it as a sort of paint enclosure. Then inside of the box, spray a little paint out and use a small paint brush to reapply paint in any spots where it pulled up.
What about the opposite problem – if you accidentally get paint on your shower or floor?
That’s another easy peasy fix! For a small spot, a little nail polish remover on a paper towel or cotton ball will take the paint right off.
If you have a bigger, thicker paint spot like this – you’re gonna need a little more power.
Soak a couple of cotton balls in nail polish remover and let it sit for a minute. Then wipe up (you may have to do this step a couple of times) with a paper towel.
Enjoy your new modern look shower frame!
This project really doesn’t take much time and definitely doesn’t cost all that much – and it’s maybe the easiest way to really update a blah bathroom. While I would love to have a new shower enclosure with frameless doors, that just isn’t in the budget right now. Maybe one day.
If you want to do an even better job with updating your bathroom, consider adding a new shower head or brightening up your grout with white paint and sealant (that’s on my list of things to do next!).
A few other things I’m planning to do are painting the walls, painting and stenciling the tile floor, painting the cabinets, and adding a wood frame to our mirror. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!
Good luck with your project!