A bath repair can delay replacement or resurfacing, depending on the nature of the damage or decay and usage factors. However, whilst a good repair will stop rust, fill holes and hide chips, it can't be guaranteed for any great length of time for reasons beyond the control of the repairer.
Furthermore, while every effort is made to colour match the repair, a variation in gloss level between the newly repaired surface and the existing surface cannot be hidden and minor overspray may also be visible when viewed from certain angles in daylight.
Baths are generally rugged in construction and designed to withstand hot water shock, soaps, cleaning agents, etc. Despite this resilience in normal use, porcelain coated cast iron tubs and vitreous enamel coated steel baths have a glass hard surface that is susceptible to chipping or fracturing if impacted during transit or installation, or if impacted by a heavy falling object. Repair is possible, but not with the same kiln fired materials, so the result is less durable and not completely invisible.
Molded acrylic fibreglass baths, shower trays, spa baths and vanities have become increasingly popular in recent years, but are not as hard and durable as porcelain and stove enameled steel baths. Scratching and loss of shine occur more quickly than with porcelain or enamel surfaces, and cracks can also occur over time due to poor support.
Chips in vitreous enamel, porcelain and acrylic surfaces can be repaired using specially formulated porcelain and acrylic repair materials.
The repair is achieved by removing all loose and detached material with a miniature grinding tool, filling with special 2-part fillers and then air brushing a colour-matched, waterproof top coat finish.
Despite the skill and special techniques involved, a repair is never completely invisible in bright light, nor can it be expected to last as long as a full refinish when in a wet area such as the bottom of a bath or shower tray.
Visitors using your bathroom will nevertheless find a professional chip repair difficult to spot if they don't know it is there in the first place.
Other common ailments relate to loss of shine, cigarette burns, general staining, scratches and rust.
Loss of Shine - common in acrylic/fibreglass fixtures and can be rectified by careful mechanical buffing provided the acrylic skin is not crazed or too thin. Time consuming and therefore costly if done well.
Cigarette Burns - can occur on fibreglass baths and can be buffed out if the burn hasn't penetrated the acrylic skin..
General Staining - common in old, vitreous enameled steel and porcelain coated cast iron baths. Cannot be removed with general cleaners, so consideration should be given to resurfacing or replacement.
Scratches - can be buffed out on acrylic surfaces but not enamel and porcelain surfaces where consideration has to be given to either resurfacing or replacement.
Rust - occurs in porcelain/cast iron tubs and vitreous enamel/pressed steel tubs. The porcelain or vitreous enamel surface lifts as a result and must be ground out prior to filling. The repair area is then finely sanded to profile and airbrushed with a colour-matched waterproof finish. There are times when a repair is not effective, such as when rust comes up around a drain waste in an old pressed steel tub. This usually indicates that the steel has rusted right through, leaving no base for a durable repair.
Repairs are costly in relation to their size because of the logistics of travelling to and from very small jobs. Travelling time and set-up time are significant in relation to the actual repair time, resulting in a significant oncost.
Depending on travelling time, the cost will usually be somewhere between $150 and $250 +gst and take between 1 and 2 hours of onsite work to complete.