Repairing A Chipped Sink or Tub
As home remodeling contractors we have, over the years, seen lots of bathrooms. Once the rage, pink tubs, turquoise toilets and gold speckled tile are today fuel for the raging home remodeling market. Thus, it’s no wonder that a bath remodel is one of the most popular home improvement projects.
While outdated finishes rank high on the list of reasons why people remodel a bathroom, the list is long. Poor natural light, cramped quarters, and the desire for improved comfort and convenience are almost always on a bath remodeling “wish list.”
Conversely, we have seen many a bathroom remodel born out of the frustration associated with something as simple (yet annoying) as a chipped sink or bathtub. Moreover, there is something about a chipped tub or sink that doesn’t sit right with most people. For many, such a chip is a source of embarrassment – even shame. It’s like driving a car with a big dent in the fender. Worse yet, no matter how hard one may try, a chip can be cleaned away.
Why remodel? Why not just repair the chip? Aside from the reasons stated earlier, many people opt not to repair a chip for the very reason the chip got there in the first place – the quality of the fixture and the promise of future chipping.
First, what is a chip and what causes it? A chip is the condition that results when the enameled or porcelain finish separates from the substrate to which it is bonded. The substrate is almost always steel, sometimes cast iron. Although a chip can occur for various reasons, the most prevalent cause is due to an heavy object such as a shampoo bottle or vile of perfume being dropped onto the surface.
More often than not, a chip in a tub or sink has a direct relationship to the integrity of the material used to construct the item. If you have ever had the occasion to install both cast iron and steel fixtures, you would know exactly what we are talking about. When compared to cast iron, a plumbing fixture constructed of steel is flimsy. The material is thin and will flex more readily. It is this flexing caused by a sudden blow that results in a chip. Although cast iron is significantly stronger, it too can chip.
Unfortunately, not everyone’s budget is in keeping with his or her “wish list.” Thus, a chipped fixture must often remain until the pocket book will allow for replacement. That’s the bad news. The good news is that chip repair is a cost-effective alternative to replacement that will make the chip disappear – at least for a while anyway.
Like just about any home improvement, chip repair can be done by a professional or you can do it yourself. In either case, the appearance of the fixture will be greatly improved and persistent rust will be held at bay.
Do-It-yourself products generally consist of an epoxy paint that can be applied to the surface using a toothpick or small paintbrush. Prior to applying the material, the area must be thoroughly cleaned and any rust removed. You will experience a better result if the area is sanded with 400 to 600 grit wet and dry sandpaper. This will provide the necessary tooth for the patch material to adhere.
Deep chips usually require more than one coat. Be sure to allow enough time for the first coat to dry before applying a second coat. And in all cases the surface must be clean and dry.
If you are fed up with the color of the fixture and are up for the challenge, a similar “paint” can be applied to the entire surface transforming your out-of-date olive to a fashionable fawn. Depending upon your level of skill, the finished product may have you wishing that you had your chip back. Paint runs, brush marks and an uneven surface are sure signs of a do-it-yourself job gone bad.
Accordingly, it may be wise to consider having a professional perform the work. We are big advocates of do-it-yourself projects to save money, but not when the task could best be performed by a pro armed with the needed tools and expertise.
When shopping for a pro to do the work, be sure to find one that offers a five-year warranty on the finish. You may have to do some serious searching, but it’s a requirement that could prevent you from having to do the job over again in the near future.
When it comes to the bathtub, a worthwhile alternative to chip repair, full refinishing or replacement is a tub liner. A tub liner is akin to crowning a tooth. The tub and surrounding wall finish remain in place while a one-piece acrylic liner is placed over the entire tub including the ledge and skirt. Manufacturers of such products boast over 200 molds to fit virtually any tub.
Keep in mind that while it’s tough to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse, a full bathroom remodel may have to wait until you bring home the bacon.