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Art Deco damaged tile repair

One of the draw-backs of being invited to a ‘black-tie do’ is that a dinner jacket has to be immaculate: otherwise the smallest mark stands out like the proverbial sore thumb. And much the same was true in the case of a recent contract carried out by Plastic Surgeon in addressing an area of high gloss black tiles.

The contract concerned has been carried out by the company’s South-West region within the Packway Officers’ Mess at Larkhill Barracks on Salisbury Plain, where a major refurbishment project was coming to a close. But rather than the tiles being the normal small format ones, these were typically two foot by one foot in size (600 x 300mm). And with the pre-war building being in the Art Deco style, the tiles actually formed the skirtings and door surrounds.

Chipped antique tile repairsNot only were Plastic Surgeon’s highly skilled Finishers involved with trying to save an architecturally significant aspect to the building’s interior, but the work was made even more challenging by the need to restore the original sheen or reflectance to the rectilinear surfaces; and to do so across a variety of rooms where the lighting conditions vary greatly.

Plastic Surgeon’s Field Sales Manager for the areas, David Craig, takes up the account “The work at the Packway Officers’ Mess was unusual with regard to the size and style of tiles we were being asked to repair. Because where you would normally have timber skirtings and architraves running along the bottom of the walls and around the large oak doors; you had hundreds of these black tiles; and some had taken a lot of punishment. They were very striking and prominent, but unfortunately a lot of them have been damaged over the decades since the mess was built, while others had been knocked by sub-contractors during the refurbishment , while trying to position mobile podiums to stand on.”

As well as being of a large format, the black tiles were also all an inch or more thick; making them a considerable weight, and raising the possibility of more collateral damage being caused to the doors, walls and floors if an attempt was made to replace them.

One area of tiles would have been virtually impossible to remove and replace. David continues saying: “Where you would normally have a wooden banister rail there was an ornate marble one, mounted on more of the black tiles. The whole of this would have had to be dismantled to replace the damaged tiles, which could have run into tens of thousands of pounds, presuming replacements were actually available.

“We were invited to carry out the repairs by GB Building Solutions as the principle building contractor for Aspire Defence: and they were extremely impressed with the results we achieved, even though the company uses our services on a regular basis to carry out snagging work on its MOD contracts. The staircase especially looks very impressive now.”

In most cases the repairs began with the Finishers rebuilding the profile of the damaged tiles using layers of a special two-pack filler , as well as, in some cases, the Cold Weld Gel they also carry. This is then smoothed back using a gradation of abrasives to obtain the correct texture. However, because the lighting varied between tungsten, halogen, natural sunlight and other conditions, the Finishers had to constantly mix small batches of our System 20 coating to match the localised appearance.

These were applied using the finest of the spray guns each operative’s van is equipped with; building up three layers before starting to mix small quantities of the System 20 coating in each shade with gloss lacquer. A further two to three coats of this blend created a depth of appearance for the surface finish, before a final coat of neat lacquer was sprayed on to offer long term protection.

Restoring the ceramic skirtings and architraves at the Packway Officers’ Mess took Plastic Surgeon’s operatives 33 days.

 

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