The materials from which the main sanitary fittings are now made are: for baths: Porcelain enamelled cast iron Vitreous enamelled pressed steel Acrylic plastics Glass fibre reinforced polyester resin (GRP) for basins, bidets and WCs: Glazed earthenware Vitreous china Glazed fireclay Acrylic plastics Stainless steel for shower trays Vitreous china Vitreous enamelled pressed steel Glazed fireclay Acrylic plastics and GRP The manufacture of a porcelain enamelled bath entails the fusing, at very high temperature, of powdered glass and other chemicals in successive layers onto the cast iron body of the bath. The result is a robust, thick coating of opaque glaze which is more or less permanent. Porcelain enamelled cast iron is an excellent material for baths, being durable and of good appearance. Colours are available from most manufacturers. Vitreous enamelled pressed steel baths are manufactured by the application of ground glass, pigments and other chemicals mixed with water and sprayed as a slurry onto the pressed steel body of the bath. The water is dried out and the whole heated to about 830’C to melt the coating. The result is a material for bathroom suites that is resistant to scratching, acids and impact damage and retains its high gloss for a very long time. Acrylic plastics can be used in sheet form to manufacture large items of sanitary ware by heating to 150-170’C when the material becomes stretchable and pliable.
The material can then be formed into a variety of shapes and many; colours are available. The more exotically shaped baths are often made from this material, the one major disadvantage being its susceptibility to cigarette burns. GRP is used particularly for the more experimental shapes as small quantities of any particular design can be made reasonably economically. Its characteristics are similar to those of acrylic baths. Manufacturers are now combining the two processes to strengthen the acrylic bath by reinforcement with glass fibres. Glazed earthenware was once commonly used for the smaller fittings, but its use is now virtually discontinued. Although cheap, there was a tendency to craze as the porous clay under the glaze would swell with any water penetration. Vitreous china is most often used for the smaller items. The process is complex and begins with a white body of a mixture of ball clay, china clay, Hint or sand, and feldspar. This is poured into a mould and then removed while still soft, dried naturally for several days, and finally spray glazed, fired and cooled. The material is excellent for basins, WCs, bidets and other items up to the size of a shower tray. Above this size, the material is likely to distort. Glazed fireclay is manufactured from a mixture of deep mined refractory clays which gives a thicker body of higher strength than vitreous china. The body colour is a dark buff and a vitreous china slip has to be applied before glazing. Items of a much larger size can be manufactured but the drying out process is longer and the resultant finishes more expensive. The material is heavy and is being superseded by other materials. However several unique designs are still made from glazed fireclay, including a one-piece shelf basin.
Coloured Finishes are available in all these materials, but it is worth inspecting fittings made from different materials closely in the showroom as a perfect match can be difficult to achieve. bathroom material Mirrors Conventional polished plate glass mirrors are quite satisfactory for use in bathrooms, although it is worth taking certain precautions to ensure that damp cannot penetrate to the silvering on the back. A soft rubber or plastics foam strip stuck all round the edge of the back of the mirror should solve this problem and also cushion it against the wall. Care should be taken in fixing large mirrors in particular, so that unequal stresses are not induced, leading to cracking. As an alternative to glass mirrors, flexible reflective plastics sheeting can be obtained. This can be mounted on chip- board and used to provide reflective wall surfaces in a variety of colours. Small shaving mirrors with integral lights are readily available, but as with all such devices, the practical usefulness of the accessory seems to be inversely proportional to its looks – in other words, the more convenient, the more unsightly. Designers need to solve this problem more effectively than they have yet done.