Painting bathtub


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Old 10-05-03, 04:05 PM
T
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Painting bathtub

I am in the planning stage of remodeling my bathroom and would like to change the color of my bathtub... Is this something for the DIYer? If so how do i go about to do this?

Thanks
 
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Old 10-05-03, 05:26 PM
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ThomasB,

I'm not a fan of this process, even when professionals do it. It is not considered a DIY project if you are looking for better than average results. The need for the right equipment, chemicals and how-to-do knowledge is something that I don't even have nor want to do.

Issues that make me not desire this nor recommend it is based on the following,

1. Water serves a a catalyst for a peeling reaction.

2. The smallest gap between the drain flange and the beginning of the porcelain will start a peeling reaction.
NOTE: It is impossible to mask the drain perfectly and consistently every time.

3. The drain is the most vulnerable part of the bathtub because of water activity.

4. Any object that falls in the tub, i.e., razors, shampoo bottles, hair brush, can cause chips or cracks in the epidermal or outside layer and start a peeling reaction.

5. If any residue is present after the etching process and is not wiped out, it will cause a break down in the chemical adhesion process thus starting a peeling reaction.

6. Temperature conditions play a big part in the success of refinishing. A tub should be at room temperature when painting. If a tub is too cold or too hot it will not allow the paint to adhere properly, thus causing a peeling reaction.

7. When applying the paint, if there are any bubbles or air pockets on the surface of the tub it will not allow the paint to maintain a constant chemical reaction, thus causing a breakdown and a peeling reaction.

8. Once a bathtub has been refinished it is very difficult to successfully refinish again. This is because of a major inconsistency with the surface of the tub.

9. When refinishing a bathtub, especially one in poor condition, a refinisher will have to apply generous amounts of paint over a damaged tub to hide its condition. This makes the bathtub extremely slippery.
NOTE: This is not the case every time. But most common with polyurethane base paint.

10. Refinishing is very sensitive to the slightest amount of abrasive and if used will cause a peeling reaction.

As most things are based on money, even trying to do this yourself will be costly and when done professionally, it is not long lasting - 2 - 4 years at the very best! When all is said and done, replacement is the best option.

Hope this helps!
 
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Old 10-06-03, 06:28 AM
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Thanks for the info.....it sounds like I'm going to replace the tub...any idea on the cost of a new tub off hand..... i'm heading out to home depot this afternoon to start researching....

Thanks again
 
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Old 10-06-03, 06:50 AM
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Well, since you've probably already gone to HD you've probably discovered that bathtubs, like cars and houses can be had for almost any price. I've found that removing and replacing a bathtub is a daunting project to THINK ABOUT, but that once you start it isn't as bad as you imagined it to be. The exception is the wifey statements: "well, gee, as long as we're doing that much, lets's just add this little bit to the project".

Frank
 
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Old 10-06-03, 06:54 AM
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Tom,

You're very welcome.

I can't tell what about prices as it depends on what you are looking for. Cast Iron or "plastic". Please don't let the word "plastic" disturb you but they do make some really good units. Maybe this will help.

When it comes to "plastic" tub as some call them there are three primary types of tub and shower units:

1. Gel-coated fiberglass
2. Acrylic reinforced with fiberglass
3. Acrylic backed with a structural composite.

Now side by side, these products look very similar, however there are important differences.

The gel-coat products, when constructed with high quality ingredients, can be very hard and durable. The manufacturing process is critical, as the liquid gel-coat must be applied evenly on the molds at the correct temperature. Gel-coated products if damaged or scratched can be repaired with great success. Repairs performed correctly are permanent and virtually invisible.

Acrylic units are usually constructed using large sheets of solid colored acrylic plastic. These sheets are heated so that they soften. The softened sheets are then stretched over a mold to achieve the desired shape of the shower or tub unit. This stretching process, however, sometimes causes the acrylic to be very thin as it stretches around corners. Those units with the highest percent of acrylic tend to offer higher performance levels. Repairs to these units are not always successful.

Many homeowners in the past were dissatisfied with the fact that the floors of these units flexed like oil cans. Some of the acrylic units backed with composites have addressed this problem. The other units often need to be set in wet plaster (5 gal pail of pre-mixed joint compound) or mortar to provide a solid base. This may be required or recommended in the installation instructions.

The care of either cast iron units or the alternatives is important. Never use cleansers that contain abrasives, as these can scratch both cast iron and plastic fixtures. If you simply make a practice of cleaning the tub or shower area every two weeks, you will avoid the heavy soap buildup that often necessitates heavy scrubbing. Virtually every manufacturer has a recommended cleaner that they strongly suggest you use. Follow these instructions and you will have a beautiful tub and shower area for many years.

Finally, if you do select one of the acrylic or fiberglass, you can keep it looking new by applying once a month, car wax. It just takes a few minutes and you use spray on car wax applied to the surface to the wall surfaces only. Never apply wax to the floor of the unit. Buff this wax out and it will be as shiny as new!

I personally like Lasco...
http://www.lascobath.com/browse.pl?l...html&series=11

The acrylics have a 5 year warranty. Gelcoats have a 3 year.

Kohler is another great product and I would go with ...
http://www.us.kohler.com/onlinecatal...Shower+Modules

Alternates would be the Americast, bonded glossy porcelain to steel to a composite structure. (3 layer structure). Not as heavy as steel tub with porcelain finish.

Good Luck!
 
  #6  
Old 10-06-03, 12:42 PM
godaddy
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Think outside the tub!!!!

The marine industry has been painting boat hulls for years with very good results. And the products are built to withstand the salt water, which should be far harsher than what you'll subject it to. Plus, It is rare to see a boat actually peel, even with scratches in the paint.

Now, these paints aren't cheap, but they go a long way. If you want that shiny new look there are method that can achieve a mirrored finish relatively easy.

Check out
http://www.awlgrip.com/
http://www.yachtpaint.com/usa/
http://www.pettitpaint.com/default.asp

any of these brands can be gotten at BoatUS, West marine or your favorite marine supplier.

Might be worth the 30 to 50 bucks vs the 100's you'll spend on a new tub. Oh yeah, the color choices are great too!
 
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Old 10-06-03, 07:11 PM
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godaddy,

All that sounds good but have you ever done it, besides this is not a brush on application that we are talking about. As I mentioned before, the method involves equipment, chemicals that you need to know how to operate and apply. The applications applied to boats requires similar products but this is best left up to the pro's.

A home is suppose to acquire equity and if the job looks bad, don't expect it to sell easily. If the sale of the home is evident down the line, all the work will have to be redone or someone will be getting a lower price for the home. Not a good idea.

Investing in the home the right way is good for everyone.
 
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Old 10-08-03, 11:30 AM
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Actually pretty easy

Doug,

Actually I have done this, on a boat . And it is almost a brush on application. These paints are self leveling and use a roll and tip method that delivers an unbelievable high gloss. And the stuff is really tough.

I'll admit, painting a tub is not the best, but if dollars are the driving issue and your looking for a color no one else has got, this is certainly doable. Here's the process.

Sand all the surfaces with a 200 grit or finer
using a cleaner/degreaser, clean all the surfaces.
mix the paint parts if using a two part paint
apply the recommended amount of thinner to the paint (special thinners are used)
rollon with a dense foam roller.
while the paint is still wet, 'tip' the paint with a fine brush following the recommendations from the manufacturer.

the brush strokes will disappear and you'll be left with a great looking paint job.

Not trying to start a war, but there are products and processes from the marine industry that have great applications in home improvement.
 
  #9  
Old 10-20-03, 08:05 PM
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I just had a bathtub paint co. over for an evaluation & est. he mentioned an 8 yr. guarantee then something he said made me feel uncomfortable about the process, he said we should not use any rubber floor mats w/ suction cups as that would lift the paint!!! come on! I'm not taking a chance on this.
 
  #10  
Old 10-29-03, 12:02 PM
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Question

I am confused!

Doug, you don't seem to be keen on the idea of refinishing a bathtub. Is the surface really so fragile that a shampoo bottle or a mat can damage it?

One of the previous moderators ("lefty") of this forum seemed to be OK with refinishing, as long as it was done by a professional.

I would appreciate comments.

 
  #11  
Old 10-30-03, 11:48 AM
Bill Syms
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Bathtub Reglazing

The way Doug is describing the process and performance of Reglazing, it sounds like hehas had experiences with tub reglazers that are not to skilled / experienced in what they are doing.
 
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Old 10-30-03, 01:31 PM
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cshekher and Bill,

I only stress that in what Jimsigns mentioned is true. I won't deny that it is far cheaper to go with a "professional reglazing" job versus a total re-do. That just takes simple math to figure that out. The other issue is the reglazing process does require certain care or all is lost. This is what most do not realize and this is what makes reglazing so appealing to many. It's far less in cost of a total re-do and it looks great when it is done professionally. Main drawback is warranty and what will void it.

I'm not sure what Lefty said but in the years of being involved in property management, we had allot of reglazing done due to cost saving but even then, short term makeovers are only that, a cheap band aid to a problem that needs a permanent fix. Let's face it, if you want to make it look pretty to avoid costly replacement, reglaze it. I will say that when we had reglazing done, they were done by one of the best within the Twin Cities area. Between the equipment needed, chemicals used, the whole process only took them one day. One issue I should mentioned, once these start to peel, which is usually around the tub drain, it will continue to peel and then you are back to square one.

Godaddy mentioned doing it like they do on boats but he even states that it is not the preferred way but a cheaper way. Sorry to say that this is not the same process I am referring to and is not my recommendation for anyone to do it this way.

It all comes down to what your wallet can allow. I always say "Do it right the first time". If you don't, you are putting out more money doing it wrong versus doing it right the first time. True, it may meet the need for now but then what? If I can't afford to buy something I really want, I wait until I can. It just makes good economic sense to do that versus to pay for something that will fail and in the event it prematurely fails and I know that it won't be covered by the warranty, why would I want it in the first place?

This is my own opinion and is based on years of knowing what products do and don't do. It's your money and I can only provide information that will hopefully save you money and a terrible headache.

Hope this explains thing better.
 
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Old 10-30-03, 03:01 PM
Bill Syms
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Bathtub Reglazing

Reglazing a bathtub can be a cost effective part of a bathroom remodle and will perform over the long haul if it is done properly. It is like any of the other trades, the job will only be as good as the person doing the job as preperation is the key to making the coating bond to the tub.

Unfortunatlly when you are dealing with the larger franchised reglazing companies, finishing jobs fast preceeds finishing jobs right. They cut out necessary steps needed to make the job last in order to save time. They also have a higher turnover of employees which means they "technitian" that comes out to do the job might not have that much experience.

When I am involved in a bathroom remodle, the question comes up about replacing the old tub with a new one. I will be up front with you, I tell all of my customers that if you are thinking of getting a new tub, get one. There is no comparison to a reglazed tub. There are a few things to consider in making this decision.

1. Cost.
You can go to your local home improvement store and pruchase a new bathtub from $100 to $3,000. However what needs to be pointed out is that the tub in a house built before 1970 is problably a high quality cast iron bathtub. That is why most of these though being a little worn still look half decent. Lets say your house was built in the 1950's. Do yo think that $100 tub will perform and last as long as the original? You be the judge.
Kohler makes a cast iron tub (villager) that can be found at most home improvement stores for about $275. It is a good quality tub. I charge $325 to reglaze a bathtub so although the tub is cheaper, when you figure in the cost of setting it and hooking up the waste / overflow, reglazing is actually cheaper.

2. Size.
People (and some contractors) don't realize that tub today are made to conserve water, therefore they are smaller on the inside. Go look at the tubs at the home improvement centers and compare them to your old one. If you like to take baths, this is important. Do you want to settle for a tub you barley fit into? I have purchased new tubs that are bigger on the inside that the generic tubs on the market but they are very expensive. In this case reglazing the tub is a viable option to the customer.

3. Characture.
In older houses, modern fixtures actually clash with the characture of the house. In these bathroom remodles the tubs are usually kept because they are so big and bold, especially if it is a clawfoot tub. You can replace the tile, pedestal sink and toilet but if you change the tub it somehow does not look right.

OK, OK. But does the reglazing really work? My customer is going to spend thousands of dollars in material and labor to take this project on and hope this process works?

It all has to do with the materials I use and more importantly the preperation to make the coating bond. I have been reglazing tubs for 14 years, started with a company that serviced property management companies where quanity was more important than quality. My superior knew why my tubs did not fail as much as the other technitians, I was taking to long to do a job.

But this gave me a good reputation among the owners of the buildings as they requested that "Bill comes out to do the work".

My secret was in the way I prepared the surface of the tub, not taking the shortcuts that unfortunatly most reglazers do. I also experminted with various coatings around the country to find the best product to use in peoples homes.

These are the steps to insure a good bond with your coating.

1. Cleaning the tub with a industrial cleaner.
Older tubs are normally worn and porus. This is why they are so hard to clean. An industrial cleaner acts like a degreaser and disolves soap, oils and dirt. As I rinse the cleaner off I wet sand the surface of the tub to remove paint spots and calcium stains.

2. Acid washing the tub.
Porcelain is like glass. It is too glossy for any product to bond to it. Hydrofloric Acid will lightly "ETCH" the surface of the tub.

Most companies skip this step for 2 reasons:

a. Saves time

b. Acid washing the tub has to be done very neatly as it will etch anything it comes in contact with. This is very important on a remodle, since the tub is reglazed last.

3. Repairing the surface.
The coatings used to reglaze bathtubs are not designed to fill in imperfections, rather to lay on a perfectly smooth, clean surface. A body filler (Bondo) is spread on the bottom and along the top ledges of the tub to fill in the porus areas. Once it dries the whole tub is sanded to smooth out the body filler and sand chalky areas of the tub from the acid washing.

Most companies skip this step because it is time consuming and if not done neatly can make a huge mess. Also if you do not etch porcelain, body fillers will not bond to them.

4. Adhesion promoter.
Not all tubs need a adhesion promoter. The newer tubs that are fired with China Porcelain (like a toilet) barley etch. Adhesion promoters help in these situations. I use a product that is sprayed in 2 coats.

Most companies use a tack rag with a adhesion promoter and just wipe it on the tub.

5. Primer.
It is very important that a "EPOXY" primer is used to bond to the tub. Nothing I have found performs better that epoxy.

Most companies do not primer to save time and money.

Once all these steps are taken, a good quality topcoat is all you need to make the tub look like a new one. Since most companies are trying to finish the job in 1 day they use accelarators in their topcoats to make them dry in as little as 4 hours.

But any chemist will tell you that slower cure times with coatings will create a better molecular bond thus producing a stronger coating on your tub.

I hope this makes people feel a little more at ease about reglazing bathtubs. Like I said earlier, it's all in the preperation.
 
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Old 10-30-03, 05:38 PM
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Bill,

OK, you gave an excellent detailed account of what it should be and I totally agree and have witnessed examples of what is omitted.

In turn, I gave everyone a good idea of what happens in the real world when you hear of warranties that are 2 years, 5 years 8 years.

I think the main trouble is, Quality verus Quantity! Skipping a step here or there, means more money can be made in a shorter time and then who gets hurt? The consumer as always!

If all applications were to be done step by step by you, of which I assume that you do this, I too would be more receptive to "re-glazing". Unfortunately, it is not that way and who you hire makes a big difference. However, nothing will ever take the place of total replacement and the life span it will provide.

Thanks for the excellent write-up!
 
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Old 10-31-03, 08:04 AM
Bill Syms
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Bathtub Reglazing

Unfortunatly this is the case in the real world. Most reglazing companies do not etch and primer tubs and even more fustrating to customers do not honor their warranties.

Some coating companies don't help either as they promote products that cut out etching, primering and repairing. This technology is not perfected. These shortcuts will usually give the coating a life expectancy of 2 to 3 years or "just enough time for the customer to loose their invoice".

Most chemists that work at coating companies still say the best way to assure adhesion on porcelain is to etch, repair and primer the surface. However they are working every day for the miracle bonding agent that will work on glossy surfaces.

I reglaze alot of tubs that were reglazed before, most of them because they are peeling. Messy job too. You have to take a heavy bodied paint stripper (Jasco) and completely remove the old finish and start the job over from scratch.

I remember when I first started doing this for a living, a fellow reglazer told me "if your not doing 5 tubs a day, your're not making money". 14 years later I still do 1 tub a day, I just don't redo them.
 
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Old 10-31-03, 10:05 AM
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Bill,

Thanks again.

Out of curiousity, can you provide any costs for doing what you describe as the "better" job to that of the other who provide the "lazy" way?

Are we talking any price differences or are we talking similar price but that the performance, long term will be far different? Just curious on your aspect of this and what the average consumer should be expecting to pay for this and get for a warranty. I do realize that you are in California and that costs are probably higher but a comparison would be great just the same.

Is there anything that we, as consumers should ask or demand when we have this process done. Is there anything that you can recommend that would prevent us from being the "victim" in a poorly applied reglaze?

As you have read above, I would opt for total replacement of fixtures versus reglazing due to "mistrust" of those who don't do a good job. Why would I want to pay 1/3 or more of the money for a short term remedy when I can get something new, more modern and many more years of enjoyment with a much better warranty by most manufacturers?

Again, thanks for providing this information as I have not been an advocate of reglazing due to exactly what you described but you have educated me and others on what is the right way and reasons behind it.

I want to thank you for your kind and generous enlightenment!
 
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Old 11-02-03, 08:56 PM
Bill Syms
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Reglazing expectations

Here in California you can pay anywhere from $125 to $500 to have a tub reglazed.

$125 to $250
Usually the 1st time business owner with the lowest price looking for jobs or large reglazing companies doing multiple jobs.

Both tend to be inexperenced in prepairation and the products they are using. Tend to use products that are cheaper rather than better performing.

$275 to $350
Usually the technitian that breaks away from the big company and is making it, sole proprieters and franchises.

The only reason you are charging more is because you are setting the prices. Still have the 1st timers and new franchise owners with little or no experience, but this is where you will usually find the expertise if your lucky.



$375 to $500
Franchises that are mass marketing to home owners. The expert bids the job and sends the laborer to do the job.

In California their is so much work, you are depending on the person selling you the job. Honoring your work tends to be the exception rather than the rule. California contractors are required to warranty their jobs for observable defects for 4 years. Most Tub reglazers warranty their tubs for 5 years. You will find warranties from 3 to 10 years.

Eairlier this summer I was doing a tub in a house and next door a tech from "Tub King" was also doing a tub. He proclaimed to me "If you're not charging $300 per tub, you don't know what you are doing"(I told him I was charging $275). The next day he was embarrased when we looked at each others jobs and wanted to know what products I was using. In Pasadena, Tub King has 14 techs, who are all busting tail.

OK, OK, sounds like I am making your case for you. Let me tell you what you should be looking for in a reglazing job. First a good place to start is the internet. Search "bathtub reglazing" and review the many companies web sites. Almost all of them will have FAQ sections in them. They are telling you what to ask a reglazer when they are trying to sell a job.

Ask the person who is trying to sell the job what kind of process they are using to reglaze a tub. You should hear from start to finish everything they do to complete your tub. The more thurough the explanation, chances are the better the tub will look and perform. Ask them very specific questions about the chemicals they are using. I would also ask how much experience they have and if they are licensed / bonded and if the person with the license will be doing the job. This person should have knowledge of tile cleaning and repairing, regrouting, recaulking, shower door installation and plumbing repairs.

A tell tale sign to question is someone who want to finish a job fast. If you are told a tub takes 2,3 or 4 hours to complete, they are trying to do more than 1 (or 2) jobs in a day. I laugh when companies advertise that you can pull the masking down the next day or charge you to caulk the tub upon completion. If you do not want your jobs to fail you should take care of things that your customer would expect you to do or would ruin the tub trying to do themselves. It takes me 5 to 8 hours to do a tub (due to repair, masking and ventelation situations) and I always return the following day to finish the job. A tub upon completion should have a very high gloss (without polishing) without runs or other imperfections in the coating. The entire surface of the tub should be coated evenly.

This year, California has a new classification, D-12, synthectic products for states contractors licenses. State law permits you to do any kind of work under $500 without a license / contract, so tub reglazing is viewed as Handyman work.

Hope this info helps. Like any other tradesman if you find a good, reliable and honest one, keep them busy and refer them!
 
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Old 11-05-03, 08:43 PM
cshekher
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Bill Syms,

Thanks a lot for your very informative posts. The last one is so good that I am going to print and use it for selecting my reglazing contractor.

So far I have limited my search to the BBB members, and this has kept the list rather short. All except one of the contractors told me that we would be able to use the tub the next day. However, one of them said that wed have to wait for 5 days! This last one has been in the business the longest (family business for 40+ years). Which one makes sense to you?

Another question. Do we have to leave the bathroom fan running for several days in order to get rid of the odor?

Thanks again!

 
  #19  
Old 11-09-03, 06:57 PM
Bill Syms
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Things to look for

If you are being told that you can use the tub the next day, the contractor is;

A) Using a coating that is designed to cure in as little as 4 hours

B) Using a UV lamp to dry their coating

C) Adding an accelerator to the coating to make it cure faster

If you do a search on the internet under "bathtub coatings", you will learn more about how different coating manufactures market their products to reglazers to save them time (and money). I have spoken to the chemists of some of these companies, each one explaining how their products perform.

In any case, someone who is telling you to use the tub the next day is trying to do jobs fast. In some situations this is important (hotels and large apartment complexes). In these situations it is not as important that the job is done perfect, rather the job is done quickly. It is my experience that these kind of jobs are expected to be redone over time, as guests in a hotel or a apartment renter tend to abuse fixtures more than home owners.

These companies will go into homes and perform work the same way, which I do not recommend. Any chemist will tell you that a coating that cures slowly bonds and stregthens better.

So it depends on the type of job you are doing. The above mentioned applications tend to pay less per tub, since there is many of them to do so you are giving the customer a discount. If the discount is 50% of your normal charge (for example), you will have to cut procedures / materials to make a profit.

Some one who tells you to wait 5 days to use a tub, I am (to be nice) at a loss for an explanation (maybe they are waiting for the check to clear). I use a slow curing coating. It is fully hard in 36 hours. In some situation (kitchen sinks, countertops or rooms that do not have adequate ventilation) I will tell my customer that if you can let the fixture sit an additional 24 hours it might help the coating fully cure (this is rare).

As far as the "smell" goes, if the reglazer uses a good ventilation system, and removes the majority of the masking before he leaves, the smell should not be a problem. Do not run the exhaust fan in the bathroom while the coatings are being sprayed, as these products will clog the blades of the fans. It is recommended after the reglazer leaves to run the fan as fresh air helps the coatings cure. By the next afternoon their should be very little, if any odor if a good ventilation system was used. If there is a window in the room, ventilation is usually not an issue. If there is no window in the room, then an exhaust system is needed to route the over spray out of the room and out another window / door in an ajacent room.

Look at the website for "NAPCO". This coating company sells a ventilation system called the "Tiny Giant", which I have been using the last 4 years. This is what a reglazer should be using to vent over spray / fumes while they are working.

Hope this gives you some info.
 
 

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