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Our surface has different performance characteristics to the original surface. The original surface of an enamel bath is hard but brittle this is because it is sort of glass like or at least in the case of an enamelled steel bath a melted ore. It is also very sensitive to chemical attack from modern cleaners which leaves the original dull and difficult to clean.
Our surface is not as brittle or as hard as the original but it is far more chemically resistant and will not be damaged by modern cleaners which is the main reason enamel baths need restoring.
Our surface is what you would describe as compliant. This means that it has a little bit of give and take and as such can absorb shock and impact better than something that is brittle. However if you hit it hard enough you can still damage it although a bit may not ping out right at that moment. The shock of impact could damage the bond just at that point or put a tiny slit in our surface. It’s compliance may result in that damage never becoming visible but on the other hand it may give out in the ensuing months leading one to think it just happened on its own accord because there is no incident to connect with it but this is not the case.
Our main business is repairing new baths that get damaged by falling objects so we are very aware of the fact baths can be damaged, as they are quite big and low and shower heads and shelves sit above them.
The original enamel on a cast iron bath is quite thick so when you are restoring it one often finds lots of chips that need repaired but since the white surface is thick you can’t easily see them. Our surface gets some of its strenght from being a certain thickness but this is not as thick as the original so if you do strike our surface and a chip results it is more apparent than a chip in the original because part of our surface will have come off revealing a tiny bit of the original that is usually a darker white.
We can’t guarantee your bath will not get chipped and don’t offer to repair chips free of charge if the bath gets damaged although we can repair it at a discounted cost. You should therefore make sure that you don’t have a heavy shower head that can fall all the way to the bath or have heavy bottles on shelves above the bath or loose metal plugs that can be dropped. If you are having work done in the bathroom such as tiling you should have this done first since we repair new baths for tilers all the time.
If your bath is rusty around the waste or elsewhere we can treat this and go over it but we can’t guarantee that some rust staining will never reappear. The original rust will have been caused by water collecting and sitting around the waste fitting and this situation will likley persist. Nobody has invented a way of completely terminating rust and rust is always encouraged by moisture. We can repair it if it comes back but we would need to charge for this.
Some baths are not fitted in such a way that they fully drain but instead hold puddles. Sometimes the bath can be fitted with the right angle to drain but the floor sinks and the angle of the bath changes causing it not to drain fully. Where a bath does not drain properly the bath will be subject to errosion in the area of the puddle. Soap and cleaning agents suspended in this water will accelerate this errosion and often when you go to a restore a bath you can see a black bit of metal exposed on the base where the white surface has been eaten righ through to the original enamel. And our surface is no different.
If your bath does not drain fully you should have it re jigged so that it does as we cannot guarantee that our surface will not get damaged by water sitting permanently in it.
Another reason baths get restored is because they have a black dull and eroded square section on the base. This has been caused by someone leaving a bath mat permanently in the bath. The bath mat creates a condition a bit like a bath not draining in that it holds water and the things disolved in the water on the bath surface permanently. Again this is not a normal situation but some tenants do this and our surface can be harmed by the same cause that will harm the original so damage that we can see has been caused by this is not covered by guarantee.
All these things are detailed in our cleaning and guarantee document and are expressed here so that you understand what can be expected of our system. Essentially we can extend the useful life of a quality bath by making it look great and protect it against the major thing that will have damaged it – chemical attack but it is not any better than the original in other respects of normal or unnormal wear and tear that would damage any bath.
There is another way of restoring a bath and that is to simply polish the original surface and in so doing get the bath smooth and white again but not as shiny as the original or that could be accomplished by resurfacing. This is different from polishing a bath after it has been re-enamelled. Not all baths can be done like this since the polishing will not do anything for areas where the surface is seriously damaged chipped or worn to the metal. However, this technique is fine if the bath is only slightly worn and you are willing to take care not to put the wrong cleaner on it in the future. But remember, that original surface has a weakness and sooner or later something could get on it accidentally that will damage it in seconds and you are back to square one. I personally find the client happier with a completely new surface although polishing the old is a bit cheaper.
Well some baths are going to be near the top otherwise it would not be a band. This does not mean we are on the make or something like that, they just cost us different amounts to do and this is reflected in the price we quote you. Some of these factors are: colour, white is the least expensive and going from colour to white is the same as white to white. We make specific colours like pampas while at the job so that they are more accurate and this takes skill and time and materials so costs more. If the bath has been re enamelled before it will more than likely need to be stripped back to the original which is time-consuming and costs more.
Location is a factor as some baths are further from our outlets than others and some places are more expensive and time-consuming to travel to, the center of London or the Isle of Mull for example. Damage to the surface of the bath requiring it to be rebuilt up or erosion groves where taps have dripped will need extra materials, steps and work.
Complex environments, confined spaces, sites where coordination is needed with other workers may require their own added costs due to a high degree of masking, venting etc.
There are a lot of other factors as well but that gives you an idea. The person that answers your enquiry will, in addition to asking some of the above questions probably ask others that may seem irrelevant based on what you say about your bath project. Don’t feel they are presuming you will be using us they are just forming in their own mind a “concept of the job” which will take in all the parameters before giving you a price. That price will not change unless the spec of the job changes.
For example it has been worked on before but we have been told it has not. We will not start the job if it needs something extra – the cost is always agreed before we commence. Having said that this only comes up once every fifty jobs or so and amounts to a figure of £60 at the most. In general white baths that are to be re-enamelled vary between 395 and 600 but sometimes a bit more if you are in an out of the way location. What is probably more of an issue is how our price compares to a price from another company or operator and for that argument you should really check out the “about us”, “services” and “technical information pages” where I blow our own trumpet to the tune called divine immodesty.
Chip repairs to new fixtures costs between 75 and 150 depending on various factors.
Doing the bath in its final location is common but not an essential requisite. Do not put on any silicon sealant between the bath and the tiles, this is best done after re-enamelling, either by us or someone else. You do not need to take the taps and waste of the bath to have it resurfaced but if they are out or being changed there is a small performance advantage to be gained by fitting them after the bath has been resurfaced. Do not re-enamel the bath with old taps on if you intend to change them as the new taps may be of a smaller diameter resulting in a missed bit around the new taps once fitted. If you are repainting this is best done after our work.
I prefer to do baths before expensive flooring goes down since this is time-consuming to protect. Bear in mind that we resurface baths in recently decorated hotel rooms and sometimes while they sit outside in the barn so nothing is set in stone as far as this is concerned, this is just a guide – it also depends on what is going to work best for you the customer.
What is important to understand is that the quality of the adhesion system employed will determine the surface life of your bath. It is this factor alone that was missing in the past when occasionally a reenamelled bath surface failed. Our double bonding system ensures that the surface will never come off. In fact the adhesion is so strong that if you attempt to remove it, instead of our surface coming away at its junction with the original, the original itself splinters. In other words the join between our surface and the original is stronger than the original is fused to itself. This is an important criteria for surface performance and longevity but is seldom promoted to customers.
You can actually strike our surface so hard that it damages the original bath surface below without damaging ours. Our surface will hold the underlying damage in place for some months before it eventually gives up. Our surface is therefore not guaranteed against chip resistant. The surface also needs to be hard enough to resist abrasion so the correct hardness is the right balance of hardness to elasticity – which ours is, so just use it as normal.
(Husband and wife enter the bathroom)
He, “wow that’s amazing” – Big smile.
She “Oh my god, It looks like a new bath! I didn’t imagine it would look this good. People have told me that its not any good but they are wrong. I am so glad we got you to come and do it”
They are nearly always flabbergasted. I myself consider that I have not done my job unless the customer is impressed and has a big smile on their face when I leave.
You can see the compromises in quality in many fields begin to cut in at about that time. The great thing about a good bath is that it is only the top surface that goes wrong and it usually goes wrong because corrosive modern cleaners etch the surface. The frame of the bath is fine even if it is worn to the metal. What we do is put an acid resistant surface on the bath that not only restores it to new but protects it against these corrosive cleaners, as it is acid resistant. You end up having all the qualities of a metal bath and all the qualities of a plastic bath without any of the weaknesses of either. It’s the best of all worlds.
Some people think that metal baths are cold but there is a rule with metal baths which is to make the water five degrees too hot and leave it five minutes before you get in. The water heats up the metal, which then stores the heat and keeps your water hotter much longer than a plastic bath would. Earlier this year I was redoing my bathroom and went shopping for a bathroom suite. The choice was bewildering but the baths just had no substance to them.
I eventually got a second hand cast bath. As a point of interest part of my business is repairing new baths that get damaged during installation and tiling and what I have observed is that plastic baths get damaged far easier than metal ones – sometimes beyond repair whereas the metal ones go indefinitely. I am sure that if you are interested in reading this at all you will appreciate the value of the old baths so I don’t need to preach to the converted any further.
The other thing I see when I arrive is that it is all peeling off by itself because the adhesion has not been accomplished and looks horrible because of this. The kids have refused to use it as it gives them the creeps and mum complains about scratching or cutting herself on the peeling edges. The man usually expresses disappointment. You cannot really compare what we do with this as it is so far removed. I personally consider the product a bit unethical as it fails to deliver what is promised. You are best to put up with the bath the way it is rather than try and DIY it on the cheap because it will cost you more in the long run if we have to undo all your handy work to get back to the original.
You want somebody that wants to do the job because he likes doing it not because he has to. This fellow will always do a better job. Enamellers who are conscientious and do a good job tend to be interested and cheerful in attitude towards their work when they talk about it. A person who is robotic, disinterested or off hand will deal with your bath in the same way. Someone who is pretending to be enthusiastic, pushy and dynamic (often as a result of sales pitch training) likewise is just as bad.
You want someone who sounds normal but interested. He should know his business and when you ask a question he should be able to immediately give you an answer that makes sense to you. He should listen when you speak and only speak to increase your understanding. Does he sound trustworthy or dodgy? Go with your instincts and gut feeling they are far more important than anything anyone says. Owner operated businesses are the best especially where he will also do the job, so you can check if it is his own business and does he do the work himself.
Check what technique the company uses to adhere the new surface to the old? Do they sound caught out when you ask them? Do they rely on the inherent quality of adhesion in the white coating (cheap option that looks good) or do they employ a separate (time-consuming and expensive) bonding and priming system between the old and the new surface that will make it really durable. How long is the guarantee and how long has he been doing it. No point in a 5-year guarantee if he only went on the road a few weeks ago!
Customer support and after sales service. Will they look after you for a reasonable cost if something awful happens that is not covered by the guarantee? For example: the cat walks over the bath before the surface is dry, the tiler drops a big tile in the bath the following week, the daughter marks the bath by developing her photographs in it. Don’t laugh these are real situations that I have dealt with on more than one occasion!
These things are more important than the price because it could cost you a lot more if you get a cheap job done by an irresponsible person that needs to be put right by someone else. I have heard this comment quite a few times, “we should have got you to do it in the first place but we just didn’t realise……”
The qualifying question of, “How long have you been restoring baths?” Is worth asking as I know some old boys who issue a one year guarantee but do a much better job than a Johnny come lately with a five-year warranty. The most important factor underlying all this is after sales service and really the guarantee symbolises a promise of this but it is not the bottom line. The guy doing your job needs to have a particular understanding about how his business works and an ethic level to back this up. He needs to understand that his future business depends on how he looks after his past and present customers because doing this well will earn him referrals, he will feel good about clients in general which magically brings in more work. He needs to be ethical enough to physically do what is required to look after the client regardless of the guarantee. This might be difficult to ascertain over the phone but the earlier question, “How do I choose a good bath resurfacer” gives a guide.
Businesses who never pick up the phone when you call but will only call you back if you leave a message are avoiding dissatisfied customers – don’t use them.
An employee I learnt from back in the 80s was an Australian who previously refinished vehicles in a body shop in the outback. There they get little tornados about 4 feet high that they call Willie willies. These come out of the desert and self perpetuate into the body shop. Of course if they get anywhere near a wet panel the job is goosed so they train themselves to spray like lightening and dry the panels immediately with hot air. This guy was himself like a whirlwind when he did a bath – everything full on and back out of the bathroom before you had a chance to figure out why they called them Willie willies. The number of coats can also be a misleading guide because what is important is optimum thickness not number of coats. Too much coating can weaken the surface and cause cracking too thin a coating fails to flow out and obliterate the ground coat.
When the old time bath resurfacers of the 50s and 60s tried to resurface baths they sometimes had adhesion failure in parts of the bath that still retained the glossy hard shine of the enamel. They reasoned that if they made the shiny areas matt by acid etching that this would solve the problem and when epoxy preparations were used this did prove out true to a degree. Using strong acid on a bath however has drawbacks that affect the surface life. The first is that sometimes the acid does not get completely neutralized before being over coated which means that the old enamel continues to disintegrate under the new surface. It literally turns the old surface to dust leaving the new surface with nothing to hold on to.
The new surface naturally fails as a consequence. The acid also gets on areas of that bath that are already worn and damaged and need no etching and the presence of acid here over etches the base leaving it bumpy. Aside from these issues the acid etch method of improving adhesion to shiny areas does not provide the best adhesive performance today anyway. Technology has moved on since the 60s and it is now possible to wipe a bonding preparation onto the glazed areas which provides a much harder bond than acid etching could ever achieve.
Bonding is like gluing. This bonding step is done by many companies at the moment including us however we take the adhesion procedure one step further by using a vitreous enamel super primer that takes up on the porous parts of the bath as well as linking to the bonded glaze. This double bonding principle in itself pushes our adhesion system out in front but it also has side benefits that make other improvements to the finish possible. To be honest vitreous enamel as a substrate does not follow the traditional rules and unless you have actually done hundreds of tests and seen the results personally this is a bit unreal to one. Quite a lot of industrial chemists say you can’t do what we do which is why there sometimes exists a mystery surrounding bath reenamelling as though there is a bit of a black art involved.