In addition to its Roman remains and gleaming contemporary spa structure, the city of Bath is also home to a specialist reclamation yard boasting one of the biggest collections of old sanitaryware to be found anywhere in the country.
There are plenty of quirky old toilets with ornate bowls and high level cisterns, as well as basins, bidets and sinks of all descriptions, but it is the baths themselves that come in the greatest variety of shapes, sizes and colours.
The attention the makers lavished on these vessels is possibly in proportion to the time users will spend soaking in them; while modern baths also take many different forms.
Checking back through our order books and the photographs our finishers send in from their assignments around the country, clearly shows the variety of baths that are out there.
Every year we repair plastic, steel, ceramic and cast iron baths of all ages, and varying in scale from ‘slipper’ baths to some of the more exotic whirlpool and spa baths. And the type of damage varies also with building occupants or tradesmen conspiring to not only drop heavy objects on the exposed surfaces, but also scratch and even burn them with blow torches and cigarettes.
In most cases the repair involves Plastic Surgeon’s finisher in building back the profile of the bath using special fillers; then rubbing down the material with a gradation of adhesives. The work is completed by carefully colour matching and spraying in the area so as to make the intervention virtually undetectable.
While having the ability to repair rather than replace a damaged bath is obviously going to save the customer money, the true size of the financial benefit only becomes clear when you consider all the stages which go into fitting a new one (assuming the original is still available to purchase).
Removing an existing bath, especially a cast-iron one, requires serious effort and it also sometimes becomes evident that the doorway was built after the installation was completed. This means the tradesman is left to either saw up the bath, or to smash it up in the case of cast iron, while recent rises in landfill taxes also have to be taken into consideration.
Then when the plumber has finished connecting the new bath, a tiler and a painter will almost certainly be required for the making good. Perhaps even a carpenter if there are special panels, skirting boards or vanitory units to be replaced. All of these charges can add up to several multiples of the basic purchase price for a new bath.
Despite the slightly unwieldy size, a GRP bath is often used to demonstrate Plastic Surgeon’s capabilities to potential customers or members of the press when they first visit our headquarters in Devon.
One of the guests will be asked so sign the underside of the bath with an indelible marker, so as to ensure a positive identification when the bath is returned later. Crucially, though, the person is invited to inflict a heavy blow using a lump hammer; with the damage to the surface varying between spalling of the gel coat, cracking, and a full blown hole.
None of these outcomes is beyond the skills of our finishers, however, and within one to two hours, the bath is brought back into the room for Plastic Surgeon’s visitors to see if they can actually find the repair. Often it takes some time and a certain angle of the light to tell anything was ever amiss.
Taking a hot relaxing bath is one of the great pleasures in life. And Plastic Surgeon can ensure the moment isn’t spoiled by having to look at the results of some unfortunate accident that has left is mark on one of the biggest and most important fittings in any home.