Craig's Refinishing Tips

Refinishing Advice for Bathtubs, Counters, Cabinets & More!

26. December 2013 16:00
by CMunro

To Strip a Bathtub, or Not to Strip a Tub...?

26. December 2013 16:00 by CMunro | 0 Comments

Indeed, as the article title suggest, that is the proverbial question - to strip or not?  More and more professional refinishers, as well as our weekend warriors, are confronted with bathtubs & tiles refinished by some other company. Unfortunately, usually the reason Munro is called in is because there has been a failure of some kind. It’s the peeling, flaking, grout falling out, etc... that classifies it as poor workmanship.  In that case strip that finish off and start over, right? Maybe not. Not all old refinish jobs need to be stripped off.  It’s not to surprising that confusion sets in for the DIY’s, as well as the professionals, when confronted with the choice to strip or leave an old refinish job.   I wish the answer was as easy as yes or no, but it’s not and both answers need an explanation.

Sometimes the bathtub may be chipped, not peeling, and YES these can be just sanded not stripped.  Remember: any chipped area has to be sanded completely flush so you can not feel any lip or edge what-so-ever. With that being said, and to answer the question, I would suggest scrapping and sanding first. If you can sand and achieve a completely flush edge (where's it’s chipped) that's an indication that the old finish is holding. You can then give the bathtub a good sanding (paying special attention to the chipped areas) and refinish over that old finish.

Now if the chipped or peeling areas you are trying to sand keep growing larger, and you cannot sand to a flush edge, then this is indicating that it is not holding, and needs to be stripped completely off.  NOTE: In the case of an acrylic or gel coat unit (which is all one piece tub/shower units) stripper is not an option, scrapper and blades only chip, nick and gouge, so we’re left with sanding. If that’s the road we’re traveling my tip is to use 120 grit wet/dry sandpaper with water. There will be areas you may need a more coarse paper (80, 60grit), and that’s ok to use, but make sure you go back over with 120, 220 to remove the scratches that the coarse paper will leave behind. Be cautious of leaving scratch marks from the sandpaper of any grit! All tub/shower units are not the same, and some are softer than others. The same goes for plastic bathtubs and wall units, and sanding is your only option.

Striping Options:

My first choice to strip off an old finish is using Razor Blade(s) and Scrappers (use on cast iron & steel bathtubs).  Mind you, you'll use A LOT of blades - I often go through a box of 100 blades. As noted, the upshot is no fumes and zero smell, no burn, but a considerable amount of elbow grease and plenty of patience. Check out this link for my favorite tool to use:
My very last choice is a chemical stripper! In all seriousness, if you absolutely need to use a chemical stripper please follow all safety precautions 10 fold. This is a highly dangerous chemical that demands a lot of respect.  Have an adequate amount of positive air flow, and vent all the negative air out! Don’t do it alone!  A respirator with clean filters is absolutely necessary.

This is the respirator that I prefer:

Of course there are some who would say “just strip it off regardless” and hey they’re correct 100% of the time. No argument here! But, on the other hand it’s just not necessary for all situations. Time is money, and yes you can refinish over an old refinishing that was properly done. If you refinish over a previous improperly refinished surface, then you're asking for problems.

I see it like a roofer, two layers is fine! If I can save the customer a little bit of money on a stripping charge I will.  Sanding a sound base from an old refinish job is just as correct.

Happy Refinishing!
- CM

19. December 2013 15:32
by CMunro

Eliminating Bathtub Refinishing Odors

19. December 2013 15:32 by CMunro | 0 Comments

At Munro Product, we manufacture, distribute, and services every product we sell. Often we’re faced with questions of how to conquer the never ending problem of “That Smell .“   It’s amazing how many times have we heard “oh my gosh, how do you handle that smell?” and “Do you wear a mask?”  Yep that smell is pretty obnoxious.  Keeping control of it in a customer’s house, apartments, and hotels is not easy and only half of the battle. The technician's comfort, and most importantly their safety, being the other half.  The conclusion we've come to is a reality that everyone in the refinishing business has to face, and that is that there really is no winning, just managing!

Odor eliminators are not so great, right?  We try all different concoctions, with some working better than others, but most don’t work at all.  We’d love to hear your feedback.  Without question the best odor eliminator is an excellent commercial vent system ( ).    Venting as much “negative” air as possible and having plenty of “positive” fresh air coming in is the best way to do it. 

With good odor control practices there are positive results for both parties:

The Technician:  Having clean fresh air while spraying results in comfort, calmness, safety, and it goes without saying the end product is far better.

The Customer: Having clean fresh air after we leave the house results in less anxiety, more referrals, and a “like new” fixture that we’re all proud of.

To all my fellow refinishers out there, stay safe and remember "Without the battle there is no fight!"

Keep Fighting the Good Fight,

3. May 2013 13:53
by CMunro

Fresh Air - It's a hassle, but it's worth it!

3. May 2013 13:53 by CMunro | 0 Comments

It’s easy to use a fresh air respirator system when you’re spraying one bathtub a day, or maybe even one every other day, and I’d definitely say you’d be crazy not to. The safety reasons alone justify it!  But, when you or your guys have multiple projects a day, small bathrooms to contend with, outlets to find, never ending equipment to drag around, and time is forever taunting you, that is when the fresh air system becomes nothing but a pain, annoying obligation, and hassle to deal with!   After talking with many refinishers the consensus seems to be: the toughest part of a fresh air respirator system is convincing yourself to use it!

One of our dealers I recently spoke with compared it to wearing your seatbelt. My younger audience won’t relate, but as we all know, a lifetime ago it was not a law to wear your seatbelt, and when it became a law many people in driving force simply refused to wear it!  Anyway, many fines and years later, we all wear it and couldn’t imagine not "clicking in." We also don’t smoke on airplanes anymore, but we used too (imagine if we still did)!  The same goes with the fresh air systems.

Quite a few veterans find it hard to believe that they once didn’t utilize one.  It definitely takes a little time to get used too, but I know by experience it eventually becomes part of the daily routine. And for sure, no doubt about it, a comfortable calm fresh spraying area will yield a better outcome, a happier customer, satisfied bosses, and even YOU in your van, pulling away from the job, will feel much better, refreshed and ready for the next tub.   I personally guarantee it! 

Tip: Regardless of the style respirator (fresh Air system) you choose; always have proper ventilation, wear gloves, eye protection and a spray suit. Cartridge respirators are adequate if used properly, but be sure the cartridge is approved before using. Replace the cartridges after each use, and pay special attention to the changing schedule when using strippers! Be sure the face piece fits properly and is maintained.

Remember, buckle up, it saves lives! Wink

Happy Spraying,
- CM

25. April 2013 10:42
by CMunro

Thankful For The Tub Liner - It's keeping us in business!

25. April 2013 10:42 by CMunro | 0 Comments

Most tub-liners fail because water gets under the drain and or behind the caulking. This causes water to get trapped between the old bathtub surface and new plastic liner creating what we call floaters, mold, and let's not forget the smell.

I’ll start there: We remove countless numbers of bathtub liners each year for the aforementioned reasons, as well as for cracks, burns, and the fact they're just down right ugly.  The cost to do a tub-liner and or wall system is also 6 to 8 times higher than the cost to refinish. An average bathtub liner starts in the thousands with lots of up-selling.  A professional bathtub refinishing company that has years of experience, knowledge, warranties and plenty of referrals may charge anywhere from $300 to $400 bucks. Three (3) hours it’s complete and looks like a new bathtub.

Lets’ not lose sight that tub liner companies aren’t all bad. They have great advertizing and give us refinishing companies plenty of work!  So thank you to all the tub-liner companies, for keeping Munro Products, and our fellow bathtub refinishers in business.

Here's a shot of the tub-liners we pulled out of one of the hotels we recently did. We pulled the liners, and refinished the tubs that were underneath, to a like-new condition.  The hotel owner was pleased to have the liners gone for good.

Happy Refinishing,
- CM


15. April 2013 10:35
by CMunro

But, I can buy a brand new bathtub for less...

15. April 2013 10:35 by CMunro | 0 Comments

How many times do we hear “I can get a brand new bathtub for cheaper than that!”?

Of course you can, but with refinishing, in just three hours your bathtub and/or wall tile will look brand new at a fraction of the cost of full replacement! Customers often forget that there is the added cost of replacing plumbing fixtures, wall tile, wallboard, pipes, tile floors, sub flooring and the old bathtub removal. Then comes “Yeah but I do all my own work!”  Ok, your time and materials are free then. Ours is definitely not!  Those are the customers we prefer to just let replace their bathtub (sometimes they're more pain, than profit).  No matter how it’s worded, the cost of refinishing is considerable less than the cost of replacement.  If a potential customer can't see the value, well, it's their loss.

Focus: in three hours the bathtub will have a “like new” appearance without the hassle.

Tip: Give every customer the best bang for their buck. That helps assure refinishing projects in the future for all of us. 

Happy Refinishing,


14. March 2013 19:07
by CMunro

The Munro Products Motto

14. March 2013 19:07 by CMunro | 0 Comments

Quality, Service and Support are Everything!

George Eliot once said:    “What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for one another.” In this we find the true purpose of life!

A  Tip: When you’re looking for bathtub refinishing products, whether you’re new to the refinishing world or an "old timer" just looking for better quality, find the distributor (and manufacturer) that actually uses AND services the product they sell!!
Exceptional technical support these days is rare.  Look no further, you found it!

17. February 2013 17:47
by CMunro

Dive In! Refinishing Pools, Slides, and Baptismal Pools

17. February 2013 17:47 by CMunro | 0 Comments

Is it hard to refinish fixtures submerged in water most of the time?  Baptismal, swimming pools, hot tubs etc I don’t know, personally I don’t think so…  A little bit of knowledge and absolutely the proper tools and materials will give you a successful ending result that will look pretty nice and always yield a great profit.   I’ve done a few swimming pools, slides, and even baptismal pools, and all have been easy (brush and roll) and very much successful!   Online you can find as much advice as you will need to prep and prepare whatever substrate you are painting. EpoxySeal-XL  will take you home!        


Happy Refinishing!-CM

13. February 2013 17:44
by CMunro

A Word Too the Wise: Cost vs Quality (and Peace of Mind)

13. February 2013 17:44 by CMunro | 0 Comments

It’s not the cost of the products you buy!  It’s the distance of both cost and loss…. Think…. How far does your Topcoat go? How many “call backs” and “problems” does your organization have?  Remember both cost and loss.   For years Tub Refinishing, Inc has been offering a 15 yr warranty to our bathtub refinishing customers.  Why?  Because we can!  Its’ been about 25 years since Tub Refinishing, Inc / Munro products started testing our wipe-on Seal-Lok™ Pre-Primer for the marble industry. Through our testing, we began to see the value of Seal-Lok for Pre-Priming acid resistant bathtubs, for the clear coating of any fixtures and for application when etching is not necessary.   Seal-Lok has truly improved our industry and has made the work easier with a lot less call backs. 

Refinishing Tip 101: Sometimes it Pays to Pay!

Happy Wiping…

13. January 2013 12:32
by CMunro

“I Heard That Bathtub Refinishing Peels!”

13. January 2013 12:32 by CMunro | 0 Comments

Man, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that!  Well, alright, I’d at least have enough to buy a new pair of construction earplugs.  Anyway, it’s true! If all the steps in a refinishing project are not followed it will peel. Trust me I’ve seen hundreds if not thousands of peeling bathtubs and tiles refinished over the years and it all comes down to improper prepping.   There are way too many so-called companies out there who are giving the bathtub refinishing industry (and me, and you) a bad name. Believe me a lot of them have worked for us. Whether it’s cutting corners on prepping products, or cutting corners on time, it never pays in the long run.  Tub Refinishing, Inc. offers free training.  

I manage and oversee thousands of refinishing projects a year.  I can deal with the occasional run or rope. I understand dust. I know sometimes your knee touches the freshly sprayed bathtub. If it can happen, it has happened to me! But, the one thing we cannot and will not tolerate is rushing or skipping steps. It hurts us all!

Remember, refinishing is not a perfect process but we try to get it as close as we can. I will stand firm for you, for me, and for tomorrow’s refinishers.  Amen!

Happy Spraying,

- CM

9. January 2013 17:47
by CMunro

Shuffle off to Buffalo (or San Francisco)

9. January 2013 17:47 by CMunro | 0 Comments

As I may have mentioned before we complete projects all over the country, all over the continent for that matter.  This past year I’ve been to Santa Clara, San Francisco, Boston, Des Moines, Houston, Saskatoon, Toronto, and NYC.  I used to collect two coffee cups from each city, keep one for myself and give the other to mom. Lame I know, boring yes, but I probably have about $5000 in cups now. A small fortune worth of coffee cups just waiting for someone in the family’s garage sale! I’m thinking magnets next, maybe.

Anyway, the real reason I’m sitting here, reminiscing about the past is not because I’m on my third cup of java, sipping it out of my yellow Calgary, Alberta coffee cup, but it's because next week we are heading back to San Francisco for another big hotel project, and I’ll tell you, I’m stoked! Not only the fact that one of our dealers and my good friend Pete ( from Tucson, AZ, is coming up to work with us, but the food is great and the atmosphere is wonderful!  Most times I’m chomping at the bit to get home, but not while I’m in SF, home to one of my favorite football teams and one of my favorite bands.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                !/photo.php?fbid=258754340858238&set=a.240568846010121.57017.169570963109910&type=3&theater                                           

I love San Francisco!

Oh yes, a refinishing Tip!   Stick to your system (always have one) and exude a lot of patience while working in a hotel! Remember, you might be in the presence of guests, so be courteous and professional at all times!  Oh and of course do a great job! For all of us!

Happy trails.

- CM