Steel baths are durable, long lasting and very popular. They are shiny and attractive, come in a variety of colours and offer a bargain alternative for those who cannot afford, or whose bathroom cannot fit, a sturdy cast iron bath.
The bath`s shiny surface is an extremely hard enamel layer. This coating is pressed on the bath`s surface in molten form. It cools and hardens to a shiny effect. But it can be damaged during bath installation. Tools may fall into the tub and scratch the enamel surface. When in use, any kind of object, ornament or tile, can fall into the bath and scratch the enamel. After years of use, the enamel does thin and can become vulnerable to scratching by cleaning aids or chemicals.
The first thing to do when you notice a scratch on the enamel is not to panic. The bath tub does not have to be replaced. It can be repaired. There are a large number of enamel repair kits on the market. Even if chips of enamel have fallen away in several places, the bath can still be repaired by a professional service.
If the scratch is quite small, a do it yourself kit should suffice for the repair. Start by cleaning the bath thoroughly. The tub surface has to be perfectly clean to ensure that the chemicals used in the repair kit adhere properly. Try not to use abrasive cleaners as this would damage the surface even more. Just make sure you remove any slight chipping or flaking around the edges of the scratch.
Once the tub is dry, try not to touch it with your fingers. This could cause some grease marks around the scratches and prevent the repair mixture from adhering properly. It`s best to follow the instructions given on the repair kit. These usually consist of a combination of epoxy and hardener that needs to be applied in two coats. It`s always a good idea to start by sanding down the area around the scratch. Use 200-grit sandpaper for this job. It will also help to remove any small chips around the scratch.
Mix the epoxy and hardener and apply one coat over the scratch. Allow this to dry for a few hours and apply the second coat. Leave the repair for three to four days to dry and harden properly before using the bath.
Continue sanding if the scratches are deeper than expected more than three eighths of an inch – working up to an 800 grit sandpaper. Remove the sanding dust with a dry cloth, brush or hand vacuum. Clean the sanded area with some acetone on a cloth. If you think the scratch is deeper than expected, apply some water putty over it, allow to dry and sand down until the surface is smooth. Then use the kit to apply the new surface as in the case of a minor scratch.
If the bath also has a shower attachment, fit eyelet curtains around it to stop water splashing on the bathroom floor.