Save money restoring fixtures

Consider professional refurbishing as alternative to replacement

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jul. 7, 2010

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Consider professional refurbishing as alternative to replacement

Bill and Kevin Burnett
Inman News

Q: We installed a pedestal sink about 10 years ago. In the last year or two it has developed hairline cracks. Most are around the drain, but there are also some on the back edge where the sink turns vertical. Is there anything I can do to stop them, and how can the sink be repaired?

A: In the mid-1980s, when Kevin gutted his 1879 Victorian in Alameda, Calif., he decided to convert an undersized third bedroom into a period bathroom. He did make one concession to modern convenience by installing a shower. The rest of the fixtures were antique, including a claw-foot tub, a two-piece chain-pull toilet and a pedestal sink.

Being ever frugal, Kevin hit the recycling yards. Kevin prefers to think of this as being "green" before his time.

He picked up the sink and toilet for a song. But the real deal was the tub. A neighbor had it sitting in his backyard. Kevin asked for it and got it. All he had to do was haul it away.

The sink and toilet were rough as a cob. Both had enamel chipped off the cast iron. The cast-iron claw feet on the tub were so rusted and pitted they could have come from the Titanic. The tub's fill valve and the sink's hot and cold water faucets needed rebuilding.

Kevin had the faucets, tub fill and claw feet bronzed. They came out beautifully.

The porcelain on both the tub and the sink were cracked in the manner you describe.

Twenty-five years ago, there was a relatively new company named Miracle Method advertising on the radio. It promised to make old worn-out fixtures look new. Kevin decided to give the company a try. And it delivered.

To save a buck or two, Kevin agreed to take the tub and sink to the company's yard. So he commandeered a strong friend, loaded the fixtures on a truck and delivered them. A week later, they picked up the tub and sink, took them home and installed them with the new brass fittings. They appeared brand new, at what Kevin figured was nearly a 75 percent discount.

Miracle Method's only warning was not to use abrasive cleansers, as this would mar the surface.

The company is still going strong. We suggest that you do a little reading (at www.miraclemethod.com). The company says refinishing can be done in one day and involves multiple steps:

1. The area around the work is masked to protect those surfaces not being refinished.

2. The fixture is prepared. The surface is cleaned to remove soap film, oils and mineral deposits. Special abrasive materials are used to ensure a thoroughly clean and smooth surface. Chips, scratches and other damaged areas are filled and repaired.

3. A proprietary bonding agent is applied to the area being refinished. This material molecularly bonds the old and new surface together.

4. An acrylic top coating, in a choice of colors, is applied with a fine finish spray compressor to create a new surface. Finishes are available in either gloss or matte, and will dry to the touch within minutes. The company says a refinished fixture can be used after 24 hours.

5. Finally, to give a tub or sink its super-smooth feel, dust particles are removed and the surface is polished.

Normally we shy away from recommending companies or products. But this is an exception. Kevin sold that grand old house in 1993. When it changed owners again a couple of years ago, he took a virtual tour and was surprised to find virtually nothing had changed but the asking price. It sold for triple what he got. He'd like to think that some of the choices he made had something to do with that.

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