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My bathroom tiles look very 1960’s. I wanted a fresh look. Being a mere cosmetic change, the thought of hacking out the entire old tiles and laying on new tiles was too  costly ( about $4000 each toilet) as well as too much noise, too much dust and just too much hassle. Overlay of new tiles over existing is a little less at about $3,000.

I was looking for a resurfacing and came across applicators of epoxy coating. They quoted $2000 per bathroom. This seemed a much better option than than hacking and relaying tiles but spending $2000 for a small toilet cosmetic change seemed expensive. Nippon Malaysia has this epoxy product but it is not available in Singapore – see Nippon youtube. There are many youtube videos on painting over ceramic tiles. Here is a useful tutorial. Here is the wikihow to prepare and apply the epoxy paint. 

Epoxy paint is used in industrial corrosive weather conditions like the under hull of ships. It has very strong bonding capabilities and will not be easy to peel off once it is properly cured. 

I went to the paint supply stores and made inquiries. The lady boss told me to use Jotun Penguard epoxy paint. The primer comes in 2 components to be mixed just before use. After 4 hours of application, then the top coat is applied. The top coat also comes in 2 components to be mixed just before application.

Here is the technical data sheet of the Penguard Primer and for the Penguard Top Coat. The sheet states the theoretical spreading rate is 8 to 12 sq meters per litre. In our ambient room temperature of 26 degrees C, the surface dry to touch is about 2 hours. Dry to over coat is 4 hours. Completely cured and ready for service takes 4 days.

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Primer components marked 1. Top coat components marked 2. Bottle of thinner. Sandpaper. Stirrer. Roller brushes. Masking tape. All this cost under S$150. Enough to cover 2 to 3 bathrooms.

This 5-liter pack would be enough for 2 to 3 toilets. I will attempt with 1 toilet first and see how the results are. So the paint store said to pour half the contents of each into a metal container, not plastic, to mix and apply. Once mixed the contents cannot be kept but must be thrown away if unused.

From google, this is what epoxy means: Epoxy coatings are used because of their outstanding chemical resistance, durability, low porosity and strong bond strength. Epoxies consist of a ‘base’ and a ‘curing’ agent. The two components are mixed in a certain ratio. A chemical reaction occurs between the two parts generating heat (exotherm) and hardening the mixture into an inert, hard ‘plastic’.

MATERIALS:
  • Epoxy primer and epoxy top coat
  • Course sand paper
  • Thinner
  • Roller brush. Be sure it is for epoxy use as regular brush bristles will fray
  • Masking tape 2″ width
  • Stirrer
  • Metal pot
  • Small ladder or high chair
  • Protection: Ground sheet, old newspapers, shower cap, goggles, arm sleeves, socks.
STEP 1:

For surface preparation: use a mild acid wash of diluted vinegar/ bleach to etch the surface. Use a course sandpaper to scrub the surface. Use a rag to remove fine dust and clean the surface thoroughly. Use masking tape to protect taps and other fittings.

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Protect areas that should not be painted with masking tape and old newspaper.

Protect bathroom fittings and edges with masking tape.

STEP 2:

Wear protective gear: the epoxy should not come into contact with the skin. So cover the head with a shower cap,  wear an old long- sleeved shirt, old pajamas pants and gloves. Eye shields are especially important. Face mask to cover the nose and mouth is recommended although I took them off after a while as it became uncomfortable. Wear an old sock or old shoe to cover the feet. Keep the room well ventilated by opening all the windows, doors and use a fan to circulate the air.

STEP 3:

Pour 800ml primer into a metal pot then add 200ml of the hardening agent.

Pictures showing the primer components A and B before mixing, being weighed and completely stirred together in a metal pot.

STEP 4:

My roller was a little too wide for this pot so I later bought a shorter roller. Dip brush half way into the primer, so as not to have too much drips. First roll on a W to spread the primer, then go over vertically and followed by horizontally to ensure good coverage. Aim to cover about 6 tiles for each dip of the brush. 

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Use a small finer brush to cover the grout lines, corners and edges of fittings. It took me about 4 hours to apply the primer on 4 walls, each about 2 x 2m in area. The primer starts to thicken and gains viscosity after 3 hours. This is normal. It becomes difficult to apply. So add a little bit of thinner for it to spread easier but not too much thinner otherwise the paint won’t stick to the substrate.

STEP 5:

Allow at least 4 hours for the primer to cure. I left it overnight. Next day, mix the epoxy top coat with the hardener in a similar ratio 800ml to 200ml. A new roller brush will need to be used as the epoxy from the previous day would have hardened the bristles. The paint shopkeeper said no one cleans epoxy brushes. They are under a dollar each, depending on the size.

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Upper with 2 layers.

 

Primer coat on the lower portion of the wall. The upper portion has the top coat as the second layer, providing sufficient coverage of the original tiles.

Jotun Primer comes in transparent, grey and white. The top coat comes in many choice of colours. 

 

 

 

STEP 6:

Remove all the masking tape and newspaper. Allow the top coat to cure overnight. Enjoy your new bathroom!

I decided to keep a small row of the old tiles as an accent feature. I’m thinking of using acrylic to paint a series of scenery on the entire row on all sides of the walls – but that is another project for another day. Stay tuned! 

Here is the transformation; Before, 1st coat, 2nd coat.

 

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