The art of cosmetic repair
Mention ‘cosmetic repair,’ and most people will think of the automotive industry, somewhere you go to get that scratch or dent hidden before your other half sees it. Then in the case of Plastic Surgeon, there are those who might wonder whether we are in the business of doing ‘tucks’, nose jobs or face lifts.
In fact, the last term is getting close to what our Finishers are involved with – a third definition – which means all 100 plus of them are out and about across the country, carrying out face lifts for contractors and property owners; wherever there is accidental damage or age related deterioration to be repaired.
Our work involves the removal of scratches, dents, gouges, cracks and stains from practically anything inert employed in the building industry, as long as it isn’t structural. And there are many clever ways to repair these damaged materials…
Twisted or dented plastic window frames or uPVC guttering, for example, can be gently heated to remove the distortions, as the material has an inherent ‘memory.’ While scratches in glass can be polished out with increasingly fine abrasives on a power sander, with the repair feathered out, to avoid visual distortion.
An important difference between the motor trade and construction work is that unlike cars which depreciate rapidly, buildings generally increase in value over time: so the phrases “beyond economic repair” or “a write-off” rarely apply. In fact Plastic Surgeon’s award winning VisibilITy software indicates that customers save £300 for every £100 they spend on the service. And that is before the labour costs involved in replacing damaged items are taken into account.
Many repairs require the scratched, gouged or dented substrate to be filled and sanded down to the same level of the surrounding substrate, before being painted or stained to match the colour of the surrounding area. If you take stone, for example, we use filler which is a modified cementitious system that can be applied in drizzly conditions and on damp surfaces.
In cold weather, meanwhile, for small stone repairs it is possible to pre-warm areas such as a window cill, in temperatures down well below freezing, to overcome frost and allow a repair to set correctly. We have also developed a specialist coating system that can be applied to surfaces such as wood, plastic or other ‘formers’, to replicate the look and texture of natural stone.
The repair of ceramics or sanitaryware and even old cast iron baths is a challenge which has proved impossible for property owners down the years. However, we recently compared our System 20 against a quartet of rival products from around the globe. Side by side tests featuring a basin and toilet were carried out over three days. It was proven that our System 20 is far superior to the other products tested for ease of application, finish, adhesion and speed of cure.
Plastic materials with major cracks can be repaired too – again, with specifically developed products – we have worked with one of our manufacturer partners to develop an advanced two-pack resin system. This is applied using a special mixing tip and cartridge gun, providing strength and stability as well as a background over which to build up carbon fibre fillers in order to restore the original profile. .
We have also invented a brick tinting capability – the research is always ongoing for new repair solutions, but a lot of cosmetic repair work actually requires quite traditional skills such as staining, polishing and painting. Which is probably why #french polishing specialists are sometimes called in by contractors: to tackle tasks that are, sadly, beyond the scope of waxes and elbow grease.
In fact the colour-matching a finished repair is one of the most important aspects of our work, if the job is to stand up to close scrutiny in different light conditions. It is amazing to witness one of our Finishers with a palette and fine sable artist’s brush recreating detail as varied as wood grain and marble swirls. You might well be left thinking that cosmetic repair is a dark art … rather than a highly logical and economically effective response to an everyday problem.
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