Cast Iron New Bath Vs Restored Clawfoot Baths
New Baths VS Restored Baths
To Re-Enamel or buy new?, is a question that many renovators face, below are some cold hard facts about restored baths.
Re-Enameling does not necessarily mean Re-Vitreous Enameling! New baths and old vintage baths were made with a vitreous enamel internal coating, when wanting to re-enamel a bath one would presume that you would be getting the same surface reapplied that was originally in place. Unfortunately this is not the case as most restoration services will apply a two pack enamel paint or derivative of.
So what’s the difference? Vitreous enamel is a glass powder that melts into a red hot casting and when cooled forms a vitreous enamel coating. A two pack enamel paint is a paint that has two parts 1 part being color the other part being a catalyst that reacts with part A and causes the two mixed parts to go hard and cure.
The main disadvantage of the repainted (Re enameled) baths is that the paint sits on top of the casting and as such never truly bonds, as a result the durability of the products restoration is compromised. The most common problem with a restored bath is that it can not cope with the natural expansion and contraction cycle which occurs to claw foot bath when hot water is added. When the temperature of the casting increases it expands and when it cools it contracts, a process that happens regularly through the life span of a cast iron bath. Two pack enamel paint does have expansion properties however the problem is that the properties of expansion are different to that of the casting, the result is a delamination effect where by the paint will come away from the casting and start to peel.
All re enameling processes are different, however the principles are fundamentally the same and disadvantaged in the same way when compared to a vitreous enamel coating. It is rare to find a true re enameling service that will take your bath and re heat it to a point that allows vitreous enamel powder to fuse.
If you do find someone that offers this service, there is always the possibility that casting will crack when subjected to the sort of temperatures needed to allow the reaction between metal and vitreous enamel to take place.
Restoring has a place and is important if there is sentimental attachment to a claw bath as you can not re purchase memories of being bathed by ones parents or grand parents in the family bath, however we strongly believe that any purchase decision of any kind should be made with full knowledge and transparency. Do not be misled by adverts that claim to re enamel, or offer baked re enameling as in most cases the service will be to re paint.
If a new vitreous enamel cast iron baths can be purchased at similar prices to that of a restored alternative, it should in most cases make sense to invest in a new bath as it will have a bona fida warranty on the internal vitreous enamel, it will last in most cases 30-45 years before needing any sort of restoration service and will provide the user many years of enjoyment