Repairing chips, dings and scratches on appliances
By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Fri., Feb. 17, 2012
You would be a rare person indeed if you have never accidentally scratched - or worse yet, chipped - the enamel or porcelain surface of an appliance, sink or tub. These are things we use every day, so why should we feel so bad about it?
There are so many things that can damage, diminish or mar those shiny appliances, be they white, almond or other any color, and the result is all the same. They look tired, maybe even abused, and they seem to talk to you every now and again, begging for some help. It's the pot, the knife or the tool that comes crashing down with just enough force to chip the porcelain or enamel from the edge of the stove, sink, bathtub, washer, dryer, etc. Of course it is always in a prominent place, visible for you and all your guests to see.
But there are ways to mend the damage and soothe your conscience - at least a little bit. Here are some techniques and solutions that "will make it feel all better."
The most painful among the blemishes are the chips that leave behind the dark surface of the metal beneath. On a washing machine, that initial blemish can begin to rust, making the damage even worse. So it is best not to wait, but to set right to applying a remedy. If what you want to do is try to make it look "almost as good as new" - though it never really will - use an appliance touch-up epoxy or a porcelain chip fix kit. It is important to prepare the surface that you will be repairing. Use steel wool or fine sandpaper to rough up the surface, as well as remove sharp edges or ridges. Then wash it with detergent and water - acetone will also do - and let it dry. If there is rust present, further preparation is required. Read the section below about dealing with rust.
Where the damage is deep - more than just a scratch - you will need to apply several thin coats to build up the surface to match it with the original finish. Don’t rush the process. Read the package directions for the amount of time to allow between coats. Sand lightly between the coats, until you match its height with the surrounding area. 'White' is never really the same white, so don't expect a miracle. There will almost certainly be a slight color difference. If your appliance is something other than white, color matching may be more of a challenge.
Stovetops and other hot areas present a particular challenge. Carefully read the restrictions on the packaging of the products you evaluate. Most are not suitable for temperatures of more than 200-250 degrees. Porc-a-Fix® is one product that says it will stand up to the high heat of a stove. Still other products are meant to withstand high heat, but they are not gloss enamels, and therefore are not suitable for appliances.
Water can also be a threat. Although these solutions are marketed as touch-up products for appliances, they may not be entirely suitable for sinks, tubs and the like. Some of them make a distinction between "moisture-resistant" and being used on "water immersed" surfaces. So don't expect to cover a blemish in your bathroom sink with the product you used on the front of your dishwasher.
For heavily rusted areas, preparation is ultra-important. Resign yourself to the fact that you likely will not achieve a perfect looking surface once the repair is complete. But something white and glossy - though not necessarily smooth - is better than something that is rough and rusty. Use a wire brush, steel wool and/or sandpaper to remove as much rust as possible. If you can get down to the bare metal, you can use a product such as Rust-oleum® Appliance Epoxy Touch-up or paint. It purports to "stop rust." If the rust is well set in, remove as much as possible, and use a naval jelly product to continue rust removal. Then apply a coat of primer paint and finish with appliance epoxy paint within 24 hours.
Repairing a rusted out blemish on a washing machine or dishwasher can also be functionally important, keeping the rust out of the clothes or the dishwater. What's more, the functional components of these machines can and should last a long time, so touching up the cosmetic aspects makes a lot of sense.