Refurbishment work being carried out on the fifth floor of a landmark twenties property on Kensington High Street has included extensive repairs to the listed Art Deco style ladies washroom, with Plastic Surgeon’s highly skilled Finishers being called upon to restore the ceramic sinks. As the UK’s only national cosmetic repair specialist, Plastic Surgeon has developed a series of product systems and techniques for concealing damage to bathroom suites, as well as over-coating them, but the contract carried out on behalf of fit out company, Dealerward, proved particularly challenging.
The large format stoneware sinks had not only suffered a variety of chips, cracks and crazing, but were also irregular in their original surface finish, due to the manner of their manufacture. And while all parties involved were agreed on the need to improve them, there were still over-riding conservation issues to be respected.
The property in question is in fact the former Derry and Toms department store, where the Kensington Roof Gardens remain today as a popular function space and wedding venue. It features the architectural design of Bernard George, as well as acclaimed metalwork by Walter Gilbert; and the fifth floor was also home to the Rainbow Room: a famous hang-out for rock stars in the 1970s.
Despite the significance of the building interior’s past history, commercial pressures still dictated that the repair work needed to be carried out quickly, and so Rob Townsend, Plastic Surgeon’s South-East Regional Operations Manager, allocated three of his most experienced Finishers to the job.
Over a two day period the three operatives systematically repaired the areas of damage before colour matching the entire surfaces to 10 of the 12 sinks arranged around the walls.
Gary Cummings, one of the three senior Finishers involved, takes up the account saying: “Some of the damage to the old sinks was quite severe, while it was also evident that the way they had been cast in the first place, rather than machine made as they would be now, had resulted in a number of irregularities.
“We started with the deep cracks and chips, using our Cold Weld Gel to stabilize and build them out far enough to be able to fill them with our two-pack material. It was then a case of smoothing them back very carefully with different grades of abrasive to maintain the original curving profiles. And then the whole of the surface to the sinks was over-sprayed using Plastic Surgeon’s System 20 coating system.”
The latter work was, however, further complicated by the fact that two of the 10 ‘originals’ were identified as later replicas which were a slightly different colour. But thanks to the Finishers’ extensive experience at colour matching, the System 20 was successfully tinted so that all 12 basins were left looking pristine and uniform; and to the satisfaction of not just the client but the heritage officers.
Although Plastic Surgeon is best known for ‘snagging’ new build projects and helping the UK’s major contractors reduce their level of waste to landfill, the company has been expanding rapidly in the facilities management field, and can also demonstrate its experience of heritage refurbishments such as on the Kensington project.
Previous contracts have seen the Finishers save sections of marble flooring and ornate stonework, while brass ironmongery and other architectural metalwork have all been repaired or had their polished finish restored. Even old glass and mirrors can have quite deep scratches polished out of them by Finishers trained in this demanding discipline.
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