Avoiding costly Bathtub Refinishing Failures
which coating scored the highest in overall performance in the "What's
New" section below.
have been asked many times in my 43 years as a coatings developer
about bathtub refinishing, bathtub reglazing, bathtub resurfacing,
ceramic tile refinishing and countertop refinishing. Let me start
off by saying that there is no difference between bathtub refinishing,
bathtub resurfacing, bathtub painting or bathtub reglazing, they
are the same. The main question that people ask is "does
answer is yes and no. Refinishing is not based on a miracle,
bathtub refinishing is based on sound chemistry and a meticulous method of preparation . Failure and success is about people
skill and product quality. The people part is whether the technician
has any real tried and proven experience. When you are dealing
with a refinishing franchise operation you will often find that
the technician has probably gone through a crash course in the
process. It is very difficult to learn all there is to know and
also become proficient in the physical application in a one or
two week period.
of the aspects of bathtub refinishing can have some pretty serious
consequences if not done properly. This is why it is important
to be informed before you decide.
Refinishers often use an acid etching agent to make the bathtub porous
so that the paint will bond to the bathtub surface. This part
of the process should employ a portable ventilating system which
will exhaust the fumes outside the home. The etching solution
usually contains hydrofluoric, phosphoric or hydrochloric acid.
Acids may damage other surfaces if accidentally spilled or dripped
onto them. Another key concern is the potential harm to pets and
family if any of the spillage contacts the skin.
bathtub refinisher then has to gear up for the refinishing coating
or paint application which is usually sprayed on (I wouldn't trust
someone who claims to use a roller or brush to apply the bathtub
finish). The coatings are hazardous to breathe and people with
asthma or respiratory conditions are quite vulnerable to exposure
of these common types of materials. Unfortunately, most of the water
borne coatings are not adequate for the moist environment in a
bathroom and this leaves the refinisher with few choices when
it comes to coatings that will work.
Liners should also be considered as a viable alternative to refinishing
because they can be replaced if the bathtub liner fails. The draw
back to Bathtub liners is they have a plastic appearance.
Ceramic Tile and tub Refinishing DIY Kits
personally don't recommend DIY bathtub or tile refinishing kits
due to the high failure rate and hazards associated with application.
Once they begin to peel you have a big problem. The failed bathtub
finish has to be stripped before refinishing again and if you
have a professional refinisher do it the overall job cost will
of coatings: Automotive coatings, paints and primers are usually
not the best choice for tub refinishing but are
commonly used and are typically re-labeled as " bathtub porcelain
coating" and primer. The most effective in the conventional
coating lines are high solids aircraft coatings and primers but
these are usually the most hazardous to use during application.
Epoxy paints and coatings have good adhesion and moisture resistance
but can yellow over time. Companies that are not a franchise often
purchase their supplies from a bathtub refinishing supply company
that specifically caters to tub, tile and countertop refinishers.
Some offer good support to their customers but for the most part
are re-labelers and do not manufacture their own products, this
is true of most franchise companies as well.
average life span of a refinished bathtub (automotive paint)
is 1 to 3 years depending on use. High solids aliphatic polyurethane
or aliphatic acrylic urethane coatings are typically used on commercial
aircraft and when applied properly onto bathtubs and ceramic tile
will last up to 10 years. One should keep in mind that these types
of coatings were not designed to be used in conditions where there
is a potential for skin contact before they have cured enough
to stop emitting chemical residues and gasses which could be harmful
to infants, young children and individuals who have sensitive
skin or have respiratory difficulties. These types of coatings
require a greater level of skill to apply and are not for the
which is why many refinishers prefer the automotive acrylic paint
because of its user friendliness. The acrylic paint looks like
a million dollars right after the refinisher collects your payment.
Unfortunately, you are lucky if it maintains its beauty for more
than 1 year.
potential problem with these types of coatings is
Organic Compound content which in most cases exceeds the limits
set forth by the EPA which is 400 grams per liter for architectural
coatings. If you live in the south coastal region of California,
the VOC limits are 100 grams per liter for architectural coatings.
There is, however, an exemption: the refinisher can legally spray
up to 3 lbs of coating per day (not location) which is
roughly 24 ounces, this is enough to do one whole bathtub and
half of another. So technically the refinisher would only be able
to do one and a half tubs in a 24 hour period under these restrictions,
and when you figure that the average cost to do a tub is $300.00,
a tough scenario.
An interesting exercise: if you were to visit web sites of the
major refinishing franchises and independent companies you will
be a better detective than I am if you can locate any published
MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) or VOC content information.
New - "The coating that scored the highest in overall performance"
have completed a 6 year evaluation of Zirlon Glaze and I feel that this coating
has the potential for changing the tub and tile refinishing industry
for several reasons. For those who are concerned about our environment,
it has a Volatile Organic Compound content of less than 100 grams
per liter and does not contribute to greenhouse gasses. The coating
is available in white or clear and can be applied onto bathtub
and tile surfaces that have or have not been refinished. At its
core this coating is basically a quartz matrix which is the hardest, most durable coating I have tested to date. It
is the closest I have found in hardness to that of an original
fired enamel and would be suitable for use in kitchen sinks and this attribute also makes it the best choice for performing a chip damage repair for those who do not need an entire bathtub or sink refinished but simply have an unsightly black chip they want to disappear. The
other benefit is its exceptional wear resistance and, once applied,
it extends the life of refinished tubs and tile surfaces. The
coating also comes in an anti-slip version for bathtub bottoms
and slippery tile surfaces. Zirlon Glaze had the shortest (30
minutes) residual odor after application compared to 24 hours
for conventional coatings. For skin sensitive users and infants
the Zirlon Glaze reached the inert state within 4 hours without
the toxic out-gassing and lingering chemical residues and emissions
of conventional aliphatic and automotive coatings which can typically
last up to 7 days, you can definitely smell the difference.
Glaze is distributed through
BT Coatings to the refinishing industry. I feel many refinshers
will want to use this new eco-friendly coating nationwide once
they learn about it. Even though a homeowner may pay a refinisher
$20.00 more to have a bathtub refinished with Zirlon Glaze, the
benefits far outweigh the nominal cost difference. Additionally,
choosing Zirlon gives the consumer an opportunity to become proactive
in protecting the environment while having the benefit of a superior
product. This doesn't happen very often as I have found many environmentally
friendly coatings are underperformers when compared to high voc
coatings where as the Zirlon outperformed all of the leading brands.
those of you who would like your bathtubs and tile coated with
Zirlon Glaze simply call your local refinishing company and ask
if they are using Zirlon Glaze.
If you prefer you can provide the names of refinishing companies
in your local area and they will be contacted on your behalf by
a Zirlon representative.
November 2016 Consumer Update. I guess the word is out about Zirlon, it was recently reported
that there are some companies claiming to be offering Zirlon but
were instead using an automotive clear coat instead, my message to them, "come on guys, just buy the real stuff".
failure rate of tile and tub refinishing companies is almost
as high as restaurants and for this reason I usually do not recommend
using a company that has been in business for less than 5 years.
are several things to consider when deciding which company to
check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the company has
any complaints filed and how they resolved the complaint.
the coatings used for refinishing comply with VOC regulations
in your local area?
long has the company been in business.
does the company deal with toxic fumes.
many bathtubs has your scheduled refinishing crew completed.
references from customers that had their bathtub refinished early
in the company's beginning.
reviews in local media sources who might review or rate services
in your community