SELECTING A PROFESSIONAL HONOLULU BATHTUB REFINISHER
Anyone claim to be a refinisher, but there are few truly professional refinishers in the Honolulu area. As with anything, you may be tempted to price shop. However unlike buying a new TV, or even selecting a contractor to install new kitchen cabinets, the ramifications of a poor refinishing job can be disastrous and very expensive to fix. We get called often to fix failed refinishing jobs. Most of the time, the problem stems from inadequate preparation, but sometimes is also due to cheap pre-thinned chemicals used by many Honolulu area refinishers, and sometimes is the result of poor technique.
We recommend that you read our case study on how we recently fixed another refinisher’s work. CLICK HERE to read it.
Here are some questions to consider when selecting a refinisher:
ARE THEY BBB ACCREDITED? If not, they may not be in this business for the long haul. A warranty is only good if the business is still around to back it up. We were incorporated in 2002 and are BBB accredited.
IS THE COMPANY OWNER DOING THE ACTUAL SPRAYING? Applying the coating is one of the last steps in the refinishing process, after all the preparation has been complete. Many companies hire employees or subcontractors to do all the work including spraying, which is the most difficult and technical step in refinishing your fixture. Many of these people are paid by the job and have little incentive to deliver quality and lasting work. Ask whomever you talk to if the company owner will be doing the spraying. Our company has two owners, and spraying is only done by them.
DO THEY HAVE THE RIGHT COATING FOR YOUR APPLICATION? Most refinishers carry only one coating. We have several to choose from. Are you a landlord and need a coating the stand up to the rigors of potentially abusive tenants? We have a coating for that. Do you live in a one bedroom one bath condo, and need to use your fixture the same day? We have a coating for that. Do you live in a building like Waterfront Towers or Century Center, where the windows don’t open and need a coating that won’t smell. We have a coating for that also. Do you have a Almond or Bone color toilet, and want the tub to match? We have the right color for that. With Oahu Tub, you get the right coating for your application and exact circumstance.
HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN IN BUSINESS? Your technicians at Oahu Tub Experts have been delivering quality work for over ten years.
WHAT PRODUCT/MATERIALS DO THEY USE? As with any skilled trade, you are mostly paying for the expertise of the technician, and the cost of his equipment. The cost of the consumable materials is fairly negligible which is why it is surprising that most refinishers actually price shop when they purchase their chemicals and coatings. All our coatings are premium grade, and are not pre-thinned. Half our business is for commercial clients like hotels and owners of large apartment complexes. We carry a special and unique commercial-grade coating that will stand up to abuse yet looks great with a deep gloss and uniform shine. Upon request we are willing to use this product in residential environments if the owner is interested. Our standard residential grade coating is designed specifically for bathtubs and is the highest quality product of its kind used in Hawaii. Its fast-cure (2 hours) allows us to finish nearly every job on the same day with no compromise or short cuts.
HOW PROFESSIONAL IS THE REFINISHER? You know the saying, “A restaurant’s kitchen is as clean as their restroom.” The same applies to most professional tradesmen including refinishers. Unless you really feel 100% comfortable with your refinisher, you should meet them prior to them doing the work. Be very wary of any refinisher who will only give you a phone quote and has no interest in physically inspecting the fixture. Here’s some points to consider:
- Are they dressed professionally, polite, well spoken and clean when they visit your home for the inspection?
- Are they able to answer all your questions in a manner you understand?
- Do they seem honest? Remember, if your bathtub isn’t that old and does not have structural damage, it may only need to be restored, not refinished.
- Did they provide you with a professionally made business card, and marketing material?
- Do they have a professional web site to help you through the decision making process?
- Will they provide you with a written guarantee and care instructions?
- Are they associated with professional trade organizations such as the Professional Bathtub Refinisher’s Association (PBRA)
IS THE PRICE TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE? As we touched on earlier, bathtub refinishing is not something you can price shop because the downside of getting a lousy job isn’t worth the few bucks you may save. Anybody can offer a “warranty” or “guarantee” but if they aren’t around to honor it, it is worthless. That brings us back to the previous topic about professionalism. A true professional is likely in it for the long haul, and will back his promises. Use your gut instinct when getting quotes. We price our services competitively. We aren’t the cheapest — because we are the best. But we aren’t the most expensive either.
IS THE REFINISHER INSURED? Very important. We can tell you that most Honolulu area bathtub refinishers are not insured. Accidents can happen to anyone and it may not even be the fault of the technician in your home. But you need to know that if anything happens while he is there, his insurance will cover everything.
WHERE DID THE REFINISHER RECEIVE HIS TRAINING? Our technicians were all professionally trained one-on-one by Mike Ripp in Chicago. Mike has over 30 years experience, and has been featured in This Old House magazine and on the DIY Network. Be careful of people who did not receive formal bathtub refinishing training.
HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE REFINISHER? The best home service providers and contractors don’t heavily advertise. They don’t need to spend money on direct mail, newspaper ads, and yellow page ads. If you provide a good service in Hawaii, word of mouth alone will keep you busy.
DOES THE REFINISHER WORK OUT OF HIS HOUSE? Here’s another way to tell if you are dealing with a part timer or a fly-by-night operator. Google their listed business address and look for the street view. If they are operating out of a house, or out of a UPS Store type location this may be an indicator they may not be in it for the long haul. It is illegal to operate a business that uses hazardous chemicals from a residential location. We have a commercial place of business where we are based out of, do our paperwork, and store our supplies and chemicals.