May 27, 2014

Your Shower Door Was Delivered With A Small Scratch–Now What?

By Paul Bieber

Don’t scream, even though it feels good. You know what Murphy’s Law is and yes, it is real. This door was promised to Mrs. Hastings for tomorrow, as she has house guests coming for the weekend and her old door is scratched up. Mr. Hastings is a large residential developer and you do a lot of work for him. In other words, this is a very important shower door. Yes, I know every customer is important. But this is the one door that you prayed would come in perfect.

Now what? Get your fabricator involved in the problem, asap. If they are local, ask them to send a skilled person over with a polishing wheel to buff out the scratch. But since this is the Murphy’s Law door, they are not close by. Ask if it is OK for you to buff out the scratch, with the provision that if you can’t buff it out, they will replace the door at no charge. Some fabricators will say no to this, as they can probably do a better job of buffing than you can, and don’t want to pay for the new door. If they won’t let you buff it, it is time to shop for a different fabricator.

How do you buff out a scratch, anyway? It is not hard to do. Keep this in mind: If you run your fingernail over the scratch and it clicks, you won’t be able to buff it out successfully. Every glass shop should have a lamb’s wool buffing wheel that mounts into a portable drill. Mix a couple of tablespoons of cerium oxide powder with a couple of spoons of water, until you have a paste-like consistency. Smoothly, move the buffing head over the scratch, going at least three inches longer than the scratch. Keep adding more paste if needed.  Check the scratch every 30 seconds to see if it is gone.  Over-polishing will leave you with a scratch-free but wavy piece of glass.

If you are satisfied the scratch is gone, your next step is to look at the glass to see if there is an optical blemish from the polishing. Hold the glass vertically, with a good light source behind the glass. Look at it straight on, and then from the sides. If you are OK with it, you have diverted a disaster with Mrs. Hastings.

If you’re not satisfied, get back on the phone with your fabricator and speak to the right person who can get you a new door tomorrow. Don’t let your replacement order go into their regular production schedule. Your fabricator should understand the priority of the issue. If they don’t understand, it is time to consider a different source for your doors.

What about Mrs. Hastings? Call her as soon as you have a solution. Keep her in the loop. She may want the door anyway, as one small scratch is by far better than what she has now. Your fabricator should give you a steep discount to keep this door. You can either offer some of this to Mrs. Hastings or use it to offset your extra labor costs involved so far. 

Your fabricator is your best friend in solving problems. You should expect an occasional shower door or IG unit with a problem big enough to upset your schedule. It is your relationship with your fabricator that will allow you to successfully solve the problem.