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Bathtub refinishing also known as bathtub resurfacing, bathtub reglazing or bathtub re-enameling is the process of refreshing the surface of a worn, damaged bathtub to a like-new condition. This process typically involves repairing any damaged areas. Chips or cracks are repaired using Bondo or another type of polyester putty. After repairs are made the surface is prepped with an acid etching. Etching provides mechanical adhesion. Porcelain, enamel, and fiberglass tubs are non-porous and do not provide a good substrate for the new coating to attach to. Etching the surface provides a porous surface that will allow proper adhesion. Another possible method is to apply an adhesion-promoting bonding agent like silane to the surface before applying the coating. The two methods can be used in unison or independently. The greatest adhesion is achieved by using both methods together. Some new refinishing processes do not require the use of etching, by relying on silane alone. After preparing the surface, primer is applied, followed by a top coat. Generally, a catalyzed two-component cross-link synthetic white coating is applied, but the coating does not have the durability or abrasive tolerance of the original glass-enamel coating of a factory-new bathtub.
Bathtub refinishing is possible using DIY kits from hardware stores, but some may choose a professional service company offering refinishing services. DIY kits generally do not offer the same level of bonding and thus, deteriorate more quickly, relying primarily on epoxy adhesion. Without professional spray equipment, the final aesthetic look may show brush or roller marks.
Findings from the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program have identified at least 14 worker deaths since 2000 related to the usage of methylene chloride for bathtub refinishing. Products containing high percentages of methylene chloride are used as stripping agents in the process, to remove the old coating on the bathtubs. In an unventilated setting, overexposure to methylene chloride vapors can affect brain function and result in death in the short term, with possible carcinogenic effects in the long term.
Measures to prevent overexposure to methylene chloride include use of stripping agents relying on other chemicals instead, the implementation of adequate local exhaust ventilation, and the provision of appropriate personal protective equipment (i.e. respirators). Using long-handled tools can also decrease workers' proximity from the product, with beneficial effects.
- Hall, Ronald M. (4 February 2013). "Dangers of Bathtub Refinishing". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved 21 January 2015.