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Equipment, Supplies and Training for the Professional Refinisher

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Ask Mike Ripp: "How Can I Reduce Call Backs from Customers?

mike rip“Mike, it’s important to me to be as efficient as possible in my business, so I can maximize my income. Call backs are always the #1 threat to that, so what can I do to significantly decrease the occurrence of those?”

Let me perfectly clear on this: The more you skip steps and substitute cheap over-the-counter products for the best quality products, the more likely you’re going to get call backs from the customer. I've seen it consistently and you can almost always trace refinishers who make less money or even go out of business to their frequency of taking shortcuts.

If they’re not taking shortcuts, some refinishers get themselves into more trouble by changing their procedure for refinishing tubs and showers. It’s not uncommon to hear they’ve changed the cleaner they are using to prep the tub or skipping the cleaner all together to clean a tub with sandpaper, etch or paint thinner. Others insist on cleaning with hot water, which adds steam and humidity to the room they are spraying in.

Another thing I’m surprised by is just how many refinishers do not read and follow the simple directions on the product labels. Storing your products in proper temperatures, measuring and mixing the products correctly as well as making sure the coating, catalyst, and thinner is stirred well is all very important to how good your job will look and how long your work will last.

Applying the correct amount of coating so you achieve the proper mil thickness is also vital to a professional job. The proper mixing ratio is 2 parts coating, 1 part catalyst, 1 part thinner.  The coating is worthless until it is mixed with the proper amount of catalyst. The catalyst is what makes the coating harden. To over or under catalyze is asking for trouble.

It’s simple: Stick to NAPCO’s proven products and processes and you’ll be a lot less likely to receive customer call backs.

Take NAPCO coating, for example. It’s a product that’s worked for 36 years as long as the refinisher sticks to the proper procedure.

NAPCO thinner is designed to mix with the coating and catalyst to give you the best results possible. To substitute over the counter thinners in an effort to save a few cents on a job just doesn't make good sense. It can affect gloss, dry time and even durability.

To get the recommended mil thickness on a standard 5-foot bathtub, you should be mixing 12 oz. coating, 6 oz. catalyst and 6 oz. thinner. This should be sprayed in 3 even wet coats, pausing 6 – 10 minutes between coats to allow the coating to dry to the touch before spraying on the next wet coat. Adding extra thinner only increases the chances of runs and dilutes your coating. When the coating is cured, the thinner is gone. It evaporates out, leaving behind only the catalyzed coating. Mil thickness on your work should be around 3 – 5 mils. If you spray too thin or too thick, you increase the chances of failure. Too thin is likely to wear through around the drain or bottom where it gets the most use. However, too thick is likely to react or trap solvent, keeping the coating from hardening correctly. It is common to have bottoms fail and drain because refinishers apply the coating extra heavy in these areas, thinking that “more is better.” What happens is the air causes the surface coating to start to dry before the solvents in the deeper coating can escape. Solvents are trapped and can cause many bad things to happen.

For the best looking longest lasting finish with NAPCO products, the fixture should be cleaned with Poly Tub Prep, especially if our bonding agent Gorilla Grip is going to be used. To skip this and clean with over the counter cleaners, sandpaper, etch or thinner greatly increases the chances of soap, shampoo, body dirt or bath oil to escape your prep, causing reactions and/or failure.

Professional bath and kitchen refinishing is a craft, a trade. It takes a pro who knows what he or she is doing to get a coating to look great and hold up to the heavy use that tubs and showers take.

Ever wonder why some refinishers charge $550 for a bathtub and get it while being booked out 3 weeks in advance while others charge $250 for the same tub and are only working 3 days a week, 1 tub per day?

The refinishers making the most money skip no steps and use only the best products according to the directions from their supplier. For the best, longest lasting finish and fewest call backs possible, read and follow the directions. If you have any questions about NAPCO products or the refinishing business in general, call NAPCO toll free at 1-800-888-1081. Or call us the next time you are in a sticky situation. We'll do everything we can to help you get out of it.

Simon Newton

Simon Newton, head of training at NAPCO. Simon has been involved in the refinishing business for over 25 years and brings a wealth of experience to his position. During that time he trained franchise owners and employees, as well as providing technical support. He built a wealth of real-world experience managing refinishing crews that provided both residential and commercial services. Simon is knowledgeable about all aspects of the business including practical application, trouble shooting and running a refinishing business.

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