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How Durable Is Your Surface?
Our surface is more durable than the original in some respects and weaker in others. It is subject to wear and tear like anything.

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.

Resurfacing, reenamelling, refinishing or repolishing: what is the difference and which is best for my bath?
Resurfacing, reenamelling and refinishing are the same thing. This is when someone puts a new surface on the bath while it is in the bathroom. People who do baths on site like this are not applying a vitreous enamel surface as was applied when the bath was made. The truth is that one does not really want that surface in today’s world anyway. It has some inherent liabilities that make it unsuitable for modern bathrooms. In particular that old surface is very sensitive to chemical attack from modern cleaners which tend to be acidic. It only takes a few moments of the wrong cleaner to leave the vitreous enamel streaked with etchings. I am sure most of have seen a bath with streaks or dribbles burnt into the surface – well that is what has happened. Our approach is to make the bath like new again but while doing so make the new surface impervious to the cleaners that can damage baths. We use a special laminate to accomplish this.

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.

I am embarrassed as my bath never looks clean no matter what I do. Why is that?
Modern cleaners contain an acid as do limescale removers and these tend to etch the old surface leaving it dull. As this worsens and the surface becomes more open and porous it becomes very difficult to clean. It gets to the point you have to rub the surface itself away just to get at the marks and stains. We put an acid resistant surface on the bath when we restore it so that this sort of damage cannot occur again. It also makes the bath smooth and shiny again so that it looks like new and is easy to keep clean.

What is the 'ballpark' cost of resurfacing a bath?
The cost of restoring a bath can vary on a number of factors and you should contact one of our offices to get a price for your particular job. We don’t need to come out and see the bath because although we handle each bath individually they all go through the same procedural steps so it is very predictable – baths being quite similar to one another. The enquiry only takes a few minutes. I always get into trouble if I give a span of possible costs because inevitably someone wants to know “Why is my bath at the top of the price band?” After I have worked out their quote exactly. They may be upset because they thought their bath would be easy or whatever. This then means I have to explain our whole costing system and all the factors therein in order that the person comes to an understanding that they are not being hard done to.

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.

How long does the job take and when can I use it again?
The work is usually completed within a day and can be used after 24 hours. Our intention is to put the new surface on perfectly on the day we do the work so that there is no need to return the next day and do supplementary work.

How far in advance do I need to book?
We can usually get jobs done within a week or two. This does depend on where you are. In the South East I tend to be flexible and will accommodate customers by doing baths in the evening if getting time off work is a problem. We will not make you wait if you are in a hurry unless you are at Lands End and will work to fit in around other trades when necessary.

When is the best time to do the bath if other work is being done in the bathroom?
Since we often repair new baths that have been damaged by tradesmen in new build properties we are aware that accidents can happen. We recommend that you run any risk of damage to the bath before having it restored. Any damage done while tiling etc can be repaired by us free of charge while we resurface it but our guarantee does not cover damage done by tradesmen after we have finished our work. It is usually best to have any light fittings directly above the bath fitted first as well as electric showers.

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.

Can you change the colour of the bath?
Yes. From colour to white is a specialty of ours. We can also enamel the bath in its original colour like avocado. We can also tint the bath so that it sympathetically integrates with your other fixtures.

How do you actually do it?
The enamel surface is sprayed on with hot air but there is a lot of preliminary work leading up to this. Like most things, the invisible preparation determines the quality of the final product and how durable it will be. Chips or corrosion on the original surface is repaired and a double bonding system (a Diamond Gleam secret) is used to secure the new surface to the old. This results in a tough 3 layer laminate being built up on the surface to the optimum thickness which is about 100 microns. This basic surface sometimes has an additional ground coat below the white enamel and sometimes a clear glaze over the top depending on the individual application Check out the technical data page (link) for a more in-depth description.

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.

How hard is the new surface and do I have to be careful with it afterwards?
Hardness is not an index of durability. A hard and brittle surface can be week when it comes to shock and impact. Durability requires a bit of give and take – like a car tyre. If wheels were made of porcelain they would not last long although porcelain is a hard surface. Our surface has a compliance built in that is designed to make things bounce off the surface rather than damage it.

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.

What will the new surface look like?
To illustrate this point let me tell you what happens when the customer sees the new surface for the first time. Incidentally, it is of never ending amazement to me that people continue to respond in this way – on every job.
(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.

Would I not be better to get a new plastic bath?
Most people get their baths done because they like the quality of the metal bath or the removal of it is unconfrontable. There is no doubt they are better and sadly cast iron baths are not really made these days which is a sign of decline. Baths were made properly up to the sixties and then the push came in to make things cheaper.

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.

What about these DIY kits I have seen on the web?
It is very hard for me to be objective about them since one would naturally expect me to be highly critical. The only time I see them is when I am called in to redo the bath because the kit has not worked out. I don’t know what percentage of people would find the end result acceptable. I suppose if a guy did it himself he would accept it because it is his own idea, project and work. The first thing that strikes you when you look at the finished result is the fact that the surface is bumpy like the emulsion on a wall. This is because the surface is put on with a roller the same way you do a wall. It does not look and feel like enamel. It is quite obviously PAINTED.

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.

Is bath resurfacing messy?
No. We quite often have to reenamell baths in five star hotels that are in perfect order apart from the baths and we go in and do our job without disrupting anything.

How do I clean / maintain my resurfaced bath?
Just spray on a cleaner like Cif Flash or Mr Muscle, leave it for five minutes and wipe it down with a bath cleaning sponge. It could not be easier. Abrasive cleaners that dry to a powder should not be used because they can dull surfaces if over used. Don’t be concerned with cleaners that say “Not suitable for enamel baths” because they contain “non-ionic surfactants” because our new surface is far more resistant to these corrosive cleaners that the original enamel.

I have young kids and a baby, is the job fumey and dangerous for them.
I myself get hay fever and am a bit asthmatic and manage to do the job without distress but there is no getting away from the fact that there is a pungent smell created by the work that does not always get completely vented out of the bathroom window. It does not last long – about an hour and a half. Some people really like the smell some hate it. People tell me it smells like nail varnish remover. It is better to open the windows of the house to create a through draft while the spray step is being done. The solvent smell is not going to harm anyone but can be a bit unpleasant if you are sensitive to this sort of thing. If people are sensitive or they have young kids they are concerned about I advise them to take a walk for the time this smell is lingering.

Do you do a non slip surface?
To be honest built in non-slip surfaces are not a good idea in my experience. For example, I am at present reenamelling baths in two London hotels because their non-slip surfaces are making the baths look dirty and dingy. Any non-slip achieves this by not being smooth and non-smooth surfaces eventually collect stains by their very nature. I don’t think our surface is too slippy having lived with them for over 20 years and you can use a mat if you wish.

How do I choose a good bath resurfacer?
This may seem like a strange question to ask of a bath resurfacer but I have to admit that there are some places we can’t reach like Ireland, France the Orkneys etc and I do find myself answering the “Who can you recommend question?” from time to time. If you call someone up from a local paper or a directory the first thing you should look for is if they are genuinely interested in your bath and how the restoration of it is going to fit in with your plans for the bathroom. This tells you that he is going to look after your needs and the bath.

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……”

How long does the surface last?
Under normal usage the surface usually lasts about 10 – 15 years but this depends on the client as I have seen them go on longer.

What is your guarantee?
We offer up to a five-year guarantee on our work depending on what the job is. Some services like single chip repair or where the item being restored is structurally damaged are not covered by any guarantee. After you have described your job to us you should ask what the guarantee is for it if this has not been mentioned by ourselves already in the discussion. It is worth mentioning that a long guarantee does not necessarily mean a good job as this can sometimes be used as a marketing gimmick by the new kid on the block who needs to sell himself above his competitors.

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.

Do you bake and polish the new surface?
Yes we bake the surface on but keep polishing to a minimum. The reason that polishing is kept to a minimum is because when an “off the gun” wet coating dries it is usually flatter and more shiny than if you were to start sanding and buffing it. Also a surface that has dried from wet tend to have a better seal at the molecular level and thus more durable. Having said this polishing is a necessity if it is needed due to some inherent issue with the surface. It’s something that you don’t do without thinking but have to apply judgement to for every bath. Baking in itself does not have to be done and a surface will cure naturally so it is not true that baking make the surface harder.

I have spoken to a company and they say they apply 15 coats. How many do you apply?
This is marketing hype, a false guide to quality and probably not true. It is true that some cheap coatings are so difficult to work with that you have to build the surface up with multiple mist coats otherwise the whole surface puddles in the bottom of the bath. The problem with multicoating in this way is that the surface remains wet and sticky a long time and as a result has time to collect dust particles from the room that distorts the final finish. You want the surface to be applied fast and heavy and for it to be wet for the minimum length of time thus giving a flawless finish.

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.

Do you etch the bath with acid as part of the process?
No. This is another of these boxes that one is let to believe should be ticked when it should in fact be crossed. Acid etching is an old fashioned approach to reenamelling used in a time before bonding was developed. The reason behind it is based on sound thinking concerning surface preparation in general. Traditionally most substrates to be coated were scuffed and roughened up to provide a mechanical key for the coating to get a grip of. This is still true of many substrates like wood and fiberglass.

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.

Is the new surface just paint?
I have to qualify the answer to this question. The upper fuselage of the space shuttle, the wings of concord, the hull of an ocean going yacht are painted with cured coatings and ours is of a similar performance specification. It is more akin to liquid plastic or gelcoat and the equipment necessary to apply it is quite expensive. Paint is a wide technology and our materials are not like something out of a tin from Homebase.


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