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Infrequent use guest bathroom would be fine and it would last for a long time with an infrequent use bathroom.
In this case I would have no problem painting the tile and you have nothing to lose if you are considering replacing the tile anyways. I have had some success with the below product. Prep work and cleaning the tile is the key to a really good job.
I actually refinished it with this: Rust-Oleum 7860519 Tub and Tile Refinishing 2-Part Kit, White, 32 oz [link]
Just a fair warning that it is not like wall paint, it’s much messier but still came out great!
They make a tub and tile refinishing kit that I've heard works with mixed success. It's kind of one of those "well if your other option is replacing it worth giving it a shot" kind of things.
Rust-oleum makes a tub and tile refinishing kit that you could use. It's really best used to re-do the whole area of tile kind of at once, it reeks to high heaven and you couldn't use it for stenciling. Still would last longer than standard paint would.
I had tons of chips around my tub including the same problem you have here. I did the small bottle repairs as some have said above, but it never quite stuck. But I did have a lot more to refinish than just around the drain.
Anyway after wasting my time on the small bottles I went to a different department (paint area) of Lowe’s and found Rust-Oleum tub and tile. That’s what you went for bigger jobs.
With your problem you may get away with the small repair kits found in the plumbing section. It’s kinda just like a white nail polish honestly.
Btw I can’t insert the link from amazon but here it is typed out:
Rust-Oleum 7860519 Tub and Tile Refinishing 2-Part Kit, White [link]
You can go to Home Depot or online and buy an epoxy finish for your bathtub, I did it for mine. You just have to sand down your tub first to make sure it’s smooth. Then you paint it, wait 6 hours, apply a second coat. And then let it sit for 24 hours. (If I remember correctly, it’s been about a year) and then it will be good as new! We also used it on a window seal in our shower to keep it from molding. epoxy paint
Something like this will work: Rust-Oleum kit That's a link to Amazon just because it's easy to find on there. You can probably find a similar product almost anywhere that sells home improvement stuff. As with most any paint type thing, preparation is key. Get the tub as clean as possible and carefully follow the directions.
This stuff works well. I can't say for sure how it will work if you're only going to be refinishing only the area around the drain -- it might appear obvious to the landlord that you had to do the refinishing there because it will almost certainly appear whiter than the rest of the presumably oldish tub.
Here's the thing: if you tell the landlord, you risk him saying "I need to buy a new tub, and you have to pay for it." That might also include needing new tile too, because removing a tub probably means retiling around it. This will be expensive.
It might be best to try to use this refinishing stuff to hide it and hope the landlord doesn't notice. The landlord or you could also use this stuff to refinish the entire tub, but then you'll have a brand-new looking tub.
If you use this, make sure you first sand the areas that you're going to paint!
Look at this stuff, it's cheaper on Amazon but they have it at Home Depot for a little more. Works nicely when done fully and should work just as nicely as a patch to keep the peeling down. Just make sure to take out the drain cover first since the flipper might not have done it correctly.
Rust-Oleum 7860519 Tub And Tile Refinishing 2-Part Kit, White [link]
What is your definition of "inexpensive"? Less than $1,000? Less than $300? The issue with inexpensive updates is that they do not age super well. Cheap stuff eventually has to be redone properly. That said, some ideas to update the bathroom could be:
You might be interested in this tub paint.
What about the tub and tile paint kit? Is it the same thing?
Rust-Oleum 7860519 Tub And Tile Refinishing 2-Part Kit, White, Single [link]
Remove the hardware (faucet and drain) clean the surface with TSP, scuff the surface and smooth down any cracks with sandpaper, then paint with this kit:
Here’s a good video: [link]
I used this tile refinishing kit. The fumes are no joke but was worth it to get rid of the green
I believe it is for any porcelain or tile. Here is what I bought [link]
Looks like a similar product but from Rustoleum. Here is a amazon link.
Use a 2 part finish because it will last a whole lot longer and generally be better. Something like this
Look into the following link. Most big box hardware stores will have it too but this way you have a visual
Is that the 2-part epoxy? This stuff: [link]
I used [link]
Lasted 2 years... if that.
Take a look at this stuff, worked great on making our tub look new. You can probably just use it on those specific spots.
I just got this: [link]
For my cast iron tub. Worst case scenario I wasted $25, best case I saved $350.
I know it's a rental, but if you're feeling up to it, Rust-Oleum has those Tub refinishing kits for $25. Yellow tub gone. [link]
You could do a repair, then after that put a coating of this refinishing stuff on it:]([link])
I've used this stuff and it looks great when you're done, although granted now you're painting over a brand new tub. OP, you might be able to use this stuff to refinish only the top edge of the tub. A white coat of this stuff would likely blend in with no difference between the top edge and the rest of the tub.
You can tint it with colored acrylic. Paint with some of the base and mix some (blue?). No more twitching!