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Old 07-12-2004, 11:08 AM   #1
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Tub resurfacing - progress reports

Hi all,

I got started on resurfacing the tub this weekend. I thought I'd put up an account for those of all of you considering the same. We looked at getting it done by a "resurfacing expert" and decided that $500 was a bit to much. I'm going to do it DIY, after consulting with a few folks who have already done this job.

So far, it wasn't the hideous job I anticipated, though the hot temps made it interestingly sweaty. Still, this is best as a summer job, as apparently the epoxy resin won't cure if the temps get too low. I'll post some pics later, since presently I am at work writing during my lunch hour.

First, I started doing the prep work. Like everything, this was the longest, most tedious activity. I scrubbed the tub with TSP repeatedly (and hated doing that, since it's a really bad ground water polutant, so tried to use only what I needed and to keep quantity low). In between scrubbings and rinsings, I rubbed it hard with steel wool--and realized that the original surface had lots of original imperfections (ripples and the like) that were not obviously visible in the heavily crazed surface (it looks like a well-cracked hardboiled egg with chunks missing here and there). Oh, and I also removed the trim and almost all of the silicon sealer under it.

The epoxy products I have called for 3 rotations of washing, steel wool and rinsing. I ended up doing about 6, because so many loose chunks of gel coat kept on coming loose. Hint--extending a garden hose and sprayer to the unit makes this much easier. The prep work all took about 3 hours. Then I had to wait 24 hours for it to dry.

So, the following day, I started work on patching the gel coat. I think the key to my happiness was that I bought a nice new full coverage respirator. For the first time in my life, I didn't feel like I was getting strangled by a respirator--yet it kept out all of the fumes (I ran the fan anyways)! The actual work was pretty darn easy--I mixed marine epoxy in a jar according to instructions, cut out fiber cloth to match the bigger chunks and gooped it all on. Acetone (nail polish remover) provided cleanup--though I didn't bother with cleaning the cheap brush I used.

The high heat inside the trailer brought quick drying, though I can't figure out what the full cure time is (the can doesn't say, the marina I bought it from says to just watch it). This morning (the next day) I checked it--one particularly deep hole is very slightly tacky, but everything else is dry. It all is pretty nice feeling (hole filled in, not too rough), though there is one little place where there's a slight protuberance that I'll have to sand down when this is cured.

So, will wait probably most of the week to cure it out.

Mary
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Old 07-12-2004, 01:51 PM   #2
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Thanks for taking the time to post your project.

This is an item of interest to many of the restorers wondering if they can
"Do-It-Yourself" it.
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Old 07-12-2004, 06:48 PM   #3
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Part One...
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Old 07-12-2004, 06:49 PM   #4
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Old 07-12-2004, 06:50 PM   #5
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Old 07-12-2004, 06:55 PM   #6
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Bobby,

It has occured to me that our avatars may be related or perhaps they lived at the same asylum.

Mary
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Old 07-12-2004, 07:28 PM   #7
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Mary,

Please give the brand names of the products you are using. I'm seriously considering doing the same type of bathroom restoration. Thanks...
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Old 07-12-2004, 07:42 PM   #8
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So far, I haven't used any real brand name stuff. Because the crack and holes are so deep (and because I wanted to make sure that 4" crack didn't get bigger), I only used regular (no name, I might add) marine epoxy (resin is in my hand in the top photo) and fiberglass cloth. Also used TSP (trisodium phosphate) cleanser, misc. brushes and 000 steel wool.

After this cures, I plan to sand it smooth, then finish it off with a product called "Tough as Tile." I found it at a local independent hardware store, though rumor has that Lowes carries it. Essentially, it's a gel coat (the outside colored layer of epoxy). I've also seen decent results with with spray finishes--but because of the equipment involved and the tedium of priming, I decided against it.
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Old 07-12-2004, 07:51 PM   #9
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Mary~!!
I'll be following your progress with a KEEN EYE~!~
May I park mine next to your's??
"Trust me, mine will be so much easier to do...NO cracks or holes to fill..."
ciao
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Old 07-14-2004, 09:14 AM   #10
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Hi all,

I put down the fiberglass patches Sunday and this morning (Weds) I checked it and the stuff is still tacky. However, the leftover resin in the jar is not tacky at all. So, last night I did a little online investigating into the world of fiberglass epoxies.

First, as I knew before, there is a range of slow and fast curing epoxies. Evidently, I got a slow one! But in fact, that's good thing. Slow curing = stronger material. So, when shopping for fiberglass epoxy (and planning a project), this is one thing to keep in mind.

Apparently there are two things that dry up epoxies--heat and (frequently, but not always) UV light. Since the tub is inside the trailer, away from sunlight and I don't have a UV lamp, heat is going to be my primary drying factor. The jar of leftover stuff was left outdoors, where it got both hotter and exposed to sunlight--hence it dried faster. Apparently humidity (or dampness of any kind) has no effect on the drying process.

Lesson learned: this is a job to do in the summer! I'd be (cold) toast if this were the winter!

In my inspections this morning, I've noticed that the epoxy has shrunken a bit where it dried. The instructions on the can says that it is not necessary to wait between coats to add more layers. I am considering possibly adding a bit more where it has dried down into the reinforcement cloth (to get a bit of depth for sanding). All this will prolong the task, especially since I'm leaving on vacation in a week and a half. But it should get done within the next few weeks.

So, I have to wait!

Mary
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Old 08-16-2004, 06:54 PM   #11
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A little update on this project...it appears to be a real epic one, but it looks like it's worth it.

After waiting another week, most of the epoxy hardened and I got sick of waiting. So, I inquired to my local boat store and they suggested take the remaining sticky stuff off with acetone. That's nail polish remover to most of us!

So, removed it, and found the remaining dry parts sufficient for the patchwork I intended. So, then I started the onerous task of sanding the surfaces smooth. The places where I put in the fibercloth, it was fairly rough. Hand sanding just got me tired, so after two hours, I pulled out the palm sander and started away at it.

With the hand sander, I found the work easy--I mostly used fine grade sandpaper. A tiny detail sander might be even better, but the palm sized one worked fine for me. BTW--be sure to wear a respirator and safety glasses--the epoxy can be bad if breathed in. A few little pits were left over, which I filled with a marine fiberglass repair paste (I'll get back with that later).

So, after that was done, I went away, got back to business this weekend. I started with a product "Tough as Tile," following the brush on application instructions. In theory, it should have worked. I still think it's a good product, but not in any way a miracle fix.

If you recall, my tub was crazed with an all-over crackling (crazing) of the finish, so that it looked like a finely cracked hard boiled egg. I used the "Tough as tile" product as instructed, but the cracks were not filled in with the product. Instead, the cracks came through the new finish. I'll try to photograph this, but I'm not sure it will show, since everything is blindingly white now. The result was that kind of crackle finish that faux painters seek--but not exactly desireable in a bathtub.

When I put down the first coat, I was a bit concerned, so I went back to my hardware store and the "guru" told me to calm down and continue to follow the directions for the second coat (and that it would take care of the problem). This fellow swore he'd used the product many times on cracked surfaces and that it worked fine. He was wrong (or may have been inhaling too many of the product fumes). I kind of had suspicions bout the problem at this point--the places where I patched the surface--came out smooth.

When I proceeded to the next coat and the crack lines started seeping out, I called the manufacturer, who claimed that it wasn't intended to fill in cracks, that this was to be expected, and gave me instruction for fixing it.

I'll have to wait at least five days for a full cure (this is also an epoxy product), then I'll have to sand it down and put on a new layer of marine epoxy. When that is cured, I can reapply a single layer of the "Tough as Tile" product.

I'm not so terribly disapointed as it might seem. The problem appears manageable and all of this application and sanding is making the surface better with each iteration. There are still some uneven chips here and there, so they will probably smooth out by the end. This will lead to a better looking and stronger surface. I just hope the warm weather sees me out on this process (though I should be fine so long as labor day weekend is warm).

Overall, I'm really enjoying this project. It's not intimidating at all, since it seems that everything is fixable with the tub, so long as you want to put the time into it.

Mary
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Old 08-08-2006, 08:52 PM   #12
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bathroom resurfacing

We are having a new "high" commode put in our 87 and I found someone local to resurface the shower to match. It is stained. I got a quote of around $400 which I thought was a bit expensive, but I do not have the time or expertise to do it myself. Kudos to those of you who can do it yourself.
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Old 09-07-2006, 07:04 AM   #13
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Re: Tub refinish

I am new to the trailer community but do have an extensive background in antique vehicle restoration. For those wishing to attempt this type of repair I would suggest several steps. The use of a marine epoxy (I have found West System works best and buy the pumps) is a great choice as it is compatable with more types of fiberglass based meterials.
Day One: Your first step in a fiberglass repair is to remove all cracks. I will grind the cracks with 36 grit 3 in angle grinder. Feather back the repair so your cleaned area is much larger than you would think, on a crack probably about 1 1/2 in on both sides (the deeper the repair the more you will have to feather). Once you have ground the cracks wipe your repairs with acetone, This will clean any residue out. Then apply fiberglass mat (preferably) or cloth which is needed to add strength to the resin. I will ususally paint some resin on the repair and saturate the cloth/mat on a piece of card board before applying. Lay the mat/cloth on the repair and pat down(layer after layer is ok) until the mat/cloth reaches a level essentially even or above the surrounding area, a metal roller is available and works well. I will often brush some resin over this repair to help and smooth any voids. One also wants to make sure that the over all thickness of the cloth/ mat retain the original thickness of the fiberglass you are repairing. If one starts with 1/2 in thickness of glass originally and grinds away 1/4 in one has to add 1/4 of mat/ cloth to make a proper repair. Clean up before resin gels. This should kill your first day and you should be wondering what you have gotten into.
Day two: The resin should be dry, grind the repair areas with the 36 grit and make sure the repair area is essentially level to the surrounding area. Apply a second coat of resin/ mat if needed. Once you are happy with the glass repair use fiber glass bondo or there are powdered additives that can be added to the resin in order to allow it to fill small voids etc. Again the bondo and resin additives do not add strength so if the repair is not correct cracks will appear again. The advantage of bondo will be its quick dry time.
Sand the bondo smooth to the surrounding surface with 80 grit followed by 180 grit sand paper. The tub is now ready for refinishing.
Day three: Apply the finish. The tub if fiber glass it was probably gel coated from the factory and one can use a tub repair kit I would imagine. But because you came this far you might as well go all the way. Gel coat is fairly easy to apply with a brush or by spraying. I would suggest spraying. Make sure however that the gel coat you buy is intended to air dry as most gel coats are applied to a mold prior to glass and resin being layed over them and let cure. If you have small repairs and can match the color of the gel coat well then brush a little gel coat on the repairs making sure not to go beyond the prepped area. Prep the area by sanding beyond the repar with 320. Brush gel coat on the repar beyond your 180 grit area and into but not beyond the 320 scuff area, later this area can be wet sanded and buffed to make the repair undetectable if you wish. There are also additives that can be purchased and added to gel coat to give it a non-skid surface. If your repair are located low in the tub or shower one could apply a same/ or contrasting color with non-skid to the bottom of the tub and not have to refinish the whole tub. I have not tried but one could probably use a roller for the refinshi process but i would see what ill effects the resin will have on the roller before attempting the repair,
Spraying the entire shower/tub is best left to a professional as the cost of a compresser and gun can be expensive, Compressor 4-600, Sata makes a spray polly gun which is what I use on gel coat 3-400. One should be able to find someone who does boat repairs to spray it for you especially if you do the prep. If the tub/shower is out of the camper prep it with 100-180 all over and spray. If it is in the trailer then the prep will be the same but mask everything and I do mean everything this stuff will go everywhere, it is like spraying a car, mask inside and outside as you will problably want to put a cheap fan in the window to remove fumes, mask the inside of the trailer as well and place a walkway of cardboard out of the camper as this stuff will get on your feet and be tracked all over, wear cloths you do not care about. The gel coat also can be thinned out to allow eaiser spraying or brushing.
Day four:
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Old 10-09-2006, 11:56 PM   #14
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My 69 the tub and shower have turned yellow over all the years....with stains that will not come out...............can a person just buy a good marine paint and spray the tub,shower, etc..............after he cleans and preps it....the epoxy stuff you are talking about, that is more for repairs right?
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