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Whirlpool bath surface coating repair

The UK based cosmetic repair specialist, Plastic Surgeon, has continued to expand its international influence by undertaking a series of contracts aboard cruise ships carrying passengers around the islands of the Caribbean.

Teams of the company’s highly trained Finishers have been working aboard some of the world’s biggest cruise ships, to carry out whirlpool bath surface coating repair and full replacements of the coatings to the giant whirlpool baths that feature on the decks; or in some cases are cantilevered out from the side of the vessels in glazed pods.

Plastic Surgeon was asked to look into the severe problems suffered by the spa baths, in relation to physical wear and also the process of osmosis.

In the latter case, tiny air pockets that can be left between the fibre-glass structures to the pools and the surface gel coat gradually fill up with water, which then leads to a form of mould growth with black patches appearing.  In the worst cases the whirlpools have had to be taken out of use.

Plastic Surgeon has developed a technique for refurbishing the pools in-situ; including formulating a special coating specifically for replicating a factory applied gel coat.  And it is a process the Finishers have continued to refine in order to speed the work and further reduce disruption for the passengers wanting to enjoy all the facilities during their time aboard these floating palaces.

During the Finishers’ most recent expedition, led by the company’s  research and development manager,  Andy Keenagh, the team successfully tackled a number of the giant whirlpools measuring up to 7.5 metres long  by four metres wide. 

whirlpool bath surface coating repair

Andy Keenagh takes up the account saying: “These whirlpools are nearly all suffering osmosis to different extents, as well as the physical wear and tear they get from high usage. Basically the gel coats are porous and water will seep through into any air holes beneath and start to rot and cause black spots.

“The only way to address the problem is to completely remove the surface coating. In the case of the big cantilever pools which hang off the side of the ship in big glass bowls, rather than construct a ‘tent’ over them as normal, we erected timber partitions clad in white sheeting to both screen the work off from passengers, and to contain the dust and any odours.

“The gel coat was then removed with grinders, down to the bare fibre-glass, and the areas of osmosis dealt with. Small patches are sanded out, while deeper ones are filled and reshaped. This is followed by the application of our new chemical sealer coating which acts as a barrier to prevent further osmosis occurring.”

Rather than being smooth like a standard domestic bath, the whirlpools tend to feature patterned surfaces traversed by channels or grooves linking to the central drainage point. This therefore complicates the process of replacing the new gel coat which also has to incorporate anti-slip texturing.

Andy Keenagh continues: “After the sealer coat has cured we apply two or three layers of the new hybrid gel coat which has been developed for glass-fibre work, before smoothing the surface. Then we finish by applying a further two coatings in combination with which we introduce a fine aggregate to provide slip resistance; particularly on the steps and across the floor.”

The refurbishment which can take seven to 14 days, allowing for periods of rough weather, is completed by removing the masking from metal handrails and other permanent fittings, and a full clean-up of the area before the partition is dismantled.

Plastic Surgeon has a continuing programme of development for new products and techniques relating to its work for clients across all the sectors. In recent years this has also provided Edinburgh City Council with an alternative to replacing old cast iron baths whose enamel is badly worn, and countless customers with the answer to damaged laminate panels in places like washrooms and changing rooms.

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