All About Coatings

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Most bathtub refinishers offer one coating. This usually means that they are biased towards that one coating. Oahu Tub Experts offers every type of bathtub refinishing coating that is available: a traditional solvent-based urethane, a water based coating, and our commercial-grade next-generation modified epoxy. The reason why we do this is that there is no “one size fits all” coating that works for every single application.

Bathtub refinishing started out with epoxies, and for the most part were a good option. The downside of traditional epoxies was that over time they yellowed. Urethanes were the next step in refinishing technology. Unlike epoxies, they retained their original color and gloss. Curing time could also be greatly accelerated, and the refinished surface was more chemical resistant than epoxies from day 1.

The disadvantage of urethanes is that they took a step back in adhesiveness. If you’ve ever seen a refinished bathtub that was peeling in many places, it was certainly a urethane. Epoxies go on, and adhere like glue. Urethanes depend on other coatings (primers) and an impeccably prepared surface for their adhesion. If properly applied, urethanes work pretty good on bathtubs where all surfaces are smooth and there are no hard corners and edges. However on tile, particularly shower floors, they rarely produce a lasting surface. What typically happens is that over time, water seeps under the coating in the grout lines, and causes separation.

Water based coatings were developed as a healthier alternative to solvent-based coatings. They are actually stronger and harder than urethanes. However they are difficult to apply and the gloss isn’t as shiny as epoxies and urethanes. Water-based coatings are the preferred option in locations that don’t have good ventilation, or in schools or nursing homes, where there is an issue with chemical odor.

Huge advances have recently caused the refinishing industry to come full circle. New so called “modified epoxies” have enabled a coating that combines the durability and toughness of traditional epoxies with the color and gloss retentive properties of urethanes. Modified epoxies still take longer to become “shower-ready” than the fastest high-speed urethanes. And they still take longer to cure and during this time are more sensitive to chemicals. However, the overall benefits in many cases outweigh the mostly temporary disadvantages when compared to urethanes.

Commercial clients have taken notice. Modified epoxies are used in water parks, swimming pools, hot tubs — even on boats, oil rigs and restaurant floors. Marriott hotels recently announced that the only refinishing coating to be used in the thousands of hotels under its management worldwide is a modified epoxy — the same one we use.

We’re asked all the time if the look of a modified epoxy is the same as a urethane. Its even better. There is a deeper gloss and more uniform shine than with a urethane. Of course, a refinished surface will never be as nice as a brand new porcelain surface. However, a modified epoxy comes closer than anything we’ve ever seen.

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Oahu Tub Experts aims to provide you with helpful home remodeling tips. We really like to focus on what we call "Value Added Remodeling". In other words, Remodeling -- or as we sometimes refer to as "Rejuvenation" -- that actually increases the value of your home measurably by more than you actually spent.