Case Studies

Butler Sink Renovation

9th April 2019
Butler sink repairs

A Grade II listed farmhouse located in Essex was undergoing extensive refurbishment work which included improvements to the kitchen and bathroom; with both the long-time owners and the local Conservation Officer wishing to preserve as much of the building’s heritage as possible. With this objective in mind they wanted to reuse both the original bath and the very old belfast/butler sink, which featured in the kitchen.

Despite the main contractor’s expertise in the sensitive repair and conversion of historic properties, its tradesmen had no experience with enamel or ceramics and so the company decided to call on the services of Plastic Surgeon.

The challenges

As is often the case, the cast iron bath had previously been over-coated with one of the proprietary paint systems on the market; then at a later date cleaned with an aggressive agent that had caused the poorly bonded layer to flake and peel.

Then the butler sink, estimated at 60-70 years in age was in the highly unusual style of having a brownish earthenware body, with the white glaze extending from some two inches below the lip and down into the oblong interior. Decades of hard usage and having heavy objects dropped in it had caused the surface to become pitted, crazed and cracked with some large chips missing around the edges. There was also severe staining to the remaining surface.

The highlights

Two of Plastic Surgeon’s Finishers attended site to carry out the renovation, with one tackling the bath in-situ, while the other worked on the butler sink which had been removed by the builder to a nearby barn.

While the restoration of the bath involved sanding, priming and applying Plastic Surgeon’s own specialist hardwearing over-coating system: as carried out for thousands of private and public sector clients, the butler sink renovation presented far more of a challenge.

With the waste assembly removed from the outlet, and all of the earthenware area masked off, the Finisher began preparation by employing a heavy duty sanding machine to cut back what remained of the original glaze. He then built up the areas of damage with successive layers of the company’s Ultra Premium Filler; smoothing back the first couple of applications with the machine, before switching to hand sanding in order to follow the irregular contours of the ageing, probably handmade sink.

Our finisher then began the reglaze by spraying two coats of Plastic Surgeon’s specially formulated porcelain primer; before applying half a dozen top coats of System 20. The latter was very slightly tinted to help match original off-white colour.

Key outcomes for the client

  • Thanks to the Finisher’s skill and the amount of investment Plastic Surgeon has put into researching and developing appropriate repair solutions, the sink was not only restored to a useable condition, but given an authentic appearance where the colour and depth of shine was appropriate to its obvious age.
  • Work to both the sink and the bath were completed within a day by each Finisher as quoted.
  • The economic intervention allowed the client to respect the heritage of their property and to comply with the planning authority’s wishes in respect of the Grade II listing.

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