Bath Resurfacing, A Brief History

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Bath Resurfacing, as a professional service, is a relatively new industry, dating back decades rather than centuries. The oldest company in the UK that is still resurfacing baths is in its 4th decade.

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However, once bathrooms were pretty much ubiquitous, different industries and services came to be built up around them. One of these was Bath Resurfacing.

Bath Resurfacing itself is an off-shoot of the car refinishing trade. In fact, in America, the usual term used to describe the trade is “Bath Refinishing”; not “Bath Resurfacing” or “Bath Re-enamelling”, both of which are the terms mostly used in the UK. At The Bath Business we describe what we are doing as ‘Bath Resurfacing’ generally. We feel it best describes what is actually being done to your bath.

Although there are quite a lot of companies that do Bath Resurfacing professionally, and each of these may have their own system or materials they use, the one common denominator is that all of them spray on the new surface. And the techniques and methods used have been derived from the car refinishing trade. Bath resurfacing has been around long enough now that many who do it may never actually have sprayed a car (I’m one of them) but this doesn’t change where the industry itself sprang from. And fortunately as materials and techniques improve in the car industry, the benefits of this can be used when resurfacing a bath.

Many of the tools, equipment and techniques would be fairly familiar to anyone who has spayed cars, although there are some differences due to the fact of where you are working and what you are spraying.

Many of a car sprayers’ tools will be run by compressors. In other words, they are air driven. Not just his spray gun but other things such as polishers, sanders, etc are all air driven. But compressors are bulky, heavy items, even small ones; so for mobility purposes, most bath resurfacers will use electrical sanders and polishers.

Again, the primers used by a bath re surfacer will often be different as the surfaces he is spraying onto are not the same as a car sprayer. The Bath Business uses a primer or bonder that has been designed specifically to adhere the new surface to the enamel bath. Without this special bonder the new surface would not adhere, or if we did do something to make it adhere of the bath then chipped there would be a problem. Our special primer ensures that if you chip the bath at some point the surface is adhered so well that no water can then reach under the new surface.

The car industry is the major mover and shaker in the development of spray paints and systems. For example, in the mid 90’s BMW unveiled its development of a water-based, coloured base-coat with a clear lacquer sprayed over it. At the same time, other companies were spending a lot of money doing research and development of water-based systems for cars. A lot of bucks have been spent on this. And the result of all this is that today cars are sprayed with a water-based coloured coat with a clear lacquer on top.

These developments trickle down to the Bath Resurfacing industry.

The idea of putting a new surface onto a bath is, however, not a new one at all. In fact it probably pre-dates the cast iron enamelled bath itself.

The first enamelled cast-iron baths began to appear in the late 1800’s, around 1870 and 1880. (Interestingly, one of the figures credited with its development was David Dunbar Buick, who is much better known for going on to found the Buick Motor Company in 1903. The success of this company [although not run by  Buick himself by this point] went on to fund the formation of  General Motors.)

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Prior to this the baths most people used  were made of galvanized metal. The kind of thing you see in a western movie where the hero is soaking in a tub with his hat on, smoking a cigar. Once he’d finished, the water would be tipped out and the bath hung back on the wall.

These galvanized baths began to get painted on the inside. I came across one of these baths which had been installed into a bathroom. The old man who owned the property told me that when he was a child, the bath was painted once a year and he was the one sent to get the paint. I got the impression that there was a specific paint which was used. Very like the DIY kits you can get today, of which “Mr Tubby” is probably the best known. They can be covered in layers and layers of old paint. Stripping this off is definitely not a job for the faint hearted.

The Bath Business delivers a professional bath resurfacing service. We resurface bathroom suites, baths, sinks, toilets and shower trays. We also deliver a professional invisible chip repair service again to baths, sinks shower trays etc. So we don’t sell DIY kits. We do suply a chip repair kit to our past customers and we are looking at supplying our materials and system to other professional bath resurfacing companies.

When exactly painting galvanized baths started as a practice is something I’m not sure of, but is does seem to be the earliest example of Bath Resurfacing, and as I said, may even predate enamelled cast-iron baths.

Bath Resurfacing as a profession is, today, practised in many countries, but to say it is world wide would give a slightly wrong impression. It seems to be based mainly in those countries with a strong anglo-saxon culture or bent. America, Australia, Canada, etc. In a lot of countries, the idea of having a bath is somewhat odd and not really part of the culture. Hence, no Bath Resurfacing.

There are some gaps in what’s been written here, and if anyone has some information that I’ve not, I’d really like to hear from you. Some of the things I’d like to know are: Where did Bath |Resurfacing originate as a professional service? When? What were the first materials and equipment used?

I’d guess that the answers to these are that it was North America, probably after WW II and that Epoxy Resin was what was sprayed. But there are guesses. If you know more about this, please e-mail me at thebathbusiness@live.com and I can include it here in this article. Thank-you.

If you want to know more about the services we provide at The Bath Business then please look at our website, http://www.thebathbusiness.co.uk

We operate on London, Edinburgh, Surrey, Kent, Brighton, Manchester, Birmingham,Glasgow and throughout the UK.

Services include: bath re-enamelling, bath chip repairs, bathroom suite, enamelling, bathroom renovation, re-enamelling, resurfacing, re-surfacing a bath, enamel repairs, chipped enamel, cast iron bath sales, bathtub refinishing,bath tub resurfacing,

A Bath Resurfacing project in Bridge of Allan

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05/03/09

I went to Bridge of Allan to do a job. The main thing the customer wanted was a chipped area of the bath repaired. Apparently it had just had a little chip originally, but one time he was in the bathroom,  the area around the chip just started flying off the bath until there was a large area that was just exposed cast iron.

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I went and had Lunch in Bridge of Allan itself. It’s not a huge town by any means. Just one street with shops and restaurants on it. Lots of restaurants. They were all very upmarket. I was quite surprised by this. I mentioned it to the customer and he said that Bridge of Allan had rail and road links to both Edinburgh and Glasgow, good schools and a rural location and as such was much in demand as a place for the affluent to live.Not fitting into this category I was unaware of this haven in the countryside. It certainly is a beautiful place.

It also started snowing again. I was planning to go to Helensburgh to visit some family after I’d finished work and wasn’t sure I was going to make it if the snow kept up.

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Snowing in Bridge of Allan.

The Customer and his wife run a company called Bouvrage. They produce all natural berry drinks from raspberries and European Blueberry. You can visit their website at www.bouvrage.com if you’d like to know more.

Got the job finished and did make it to Helensburgh. Scottish weather can be a bit unpredictable and annoying at times but it never got in the way of getting the job done and seeing the family. That makes a nice wee change.

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Finished job.

An Interesting climate change – Edinburgh to Melrose

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04/03/09

I was in Edinburgh and travelled down to Melrose to resurface a bath. In Edinburgh it felt quite spring-like (as it should be) but as I travelled down you start to climb a bit and it eventually got quite wintery.

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View from A68 looking down to the Firth of Forth.

Melrose itself is a very typical Scottish Borders town. Pretty but small. Lots of independent shops doing their own thing.A great place to visit and like most of the Borders town a very pretty place as well.

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Melrose

The bath I was resurfacing was in a house that dated from the 1880’s, and the owners thought that the bath was original. It was a plunger bath and these are very old baths. It seemed very likely this bath was original to the house as there was a button above the bath that you could push to ring a bell for a servant. If the bath was original then it was one of the very first cast iron baths. It has the unusual feature of the plunger for the bath also acting as the overflow. You don’t see this in later baths.

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Melrose Abbey

Dedicated services in Scotland and England which include:bath re-enamelling, bath chip repairs, bathroom suite resurfacing, enamelling, bathroom renovation, re-enameling, resurfacing, bath re-surfacing, enamel repairs, chipped enamel, original cast iron bath sales, bathtub refinishing, and bath tub resurfacing.

 

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