Bathroom light bars provide lighting around bathroom mirrors. The light bars found in many bathrooms are original to the house, having been installed when the house was first built. Over time, these light covers break. Replacing them is difficult because the companies that originally made them are often no longer in business. Professional fabricators can often reproduce a copy of the light bar, but the cost is often many times that of the entire light bar itself. Using a few simple tools and plastic fabrication techniques, replacement light bar covers can be built inexpensively.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Acrylic solvent cement
- Squeeze bottle applicator
- Painter's masking tape
- Grease pencil
- 220 grit sandpaper
- Gluing jig
- Spring clamp
Measure the light bar. Older light bars use a "U" shaped cover, held in place by a large screw in the centre of the front panel or screws on the side panels. Make a drawing of the cover. Add the measurements to the drawing. Keep in mind that the cover fits over the light bar, so the measurements should be inside measurements. Use 1/8-inch-thick acrylic for the cover. Add the material's thickness to the measurements plus an additional 1/32 inch. This extra space allows a little room to ensure the cover does not fit too tightly. Acrylic expands and contracts with temperature changes. If the cover is too tight, the acrylic can crack from the pressure of contraction.
Create a list of the parts needed. In the case of a simple light bar cover, there are only three parts. The cover consists of a front, top and bottom panel. Acrylic, typically used for light bar covers, is a translucent white known as lighting white. This translucent white acrylic will allow light to pass through, while hiding the bulbs and sockets behind the cover. Go to an acrylic retailer and have the pieces cut to the measured sizes.
Sand the saw cut edges of the plastic lightly with 220-grit sandpaper. Use a piece of scrap wood as a sanding block. This allows for tighter glue joints. Leave the protective backing on both sides of the acrylic while sanding and drilling. Mark the position of any holes with a grease pencil.
Drill any necessary holes. Using painter's masking tape, temporarily assemble the cover and test the fit. It is important to make sure that any drilled holes line up with the light bar's holes. Fill the squeeze bottle applicator half way with acrylic solvent cement. Remove the protective backing from both sides of each panel.
Line up the acrylic panels for gluing. The top and bottom panels will be glued to the back side of the front panel, hiding the glue joint. Use a gluing jig to hold the top panel at a 90 degree angle. A spring clamp will hold the panel to the gluing jig. A gluing jig is anything that can be clamped to the acrylic to hold it in place at a 90 degree angle. Squeeze the bottle until the solvent cement is near the top of the bottle's neck. Slightly release the pressure. This creates a vacuum within the bottle, which keeps the cement from spilling out on to the acrylic, when the bottle is held upside down. Run a thin bead of cement along the inside of the joint formed by the top and front panels. Allow it to dry for 45 minutes. Repeat the process for the bottom panel. Mount the cover onto the light bar, and the project is complete.
Tips and warnings
- When choosing a coloured acrylic, remember that the bathroom will be illuminated in that colour when the light is turned on. Using a white acrylic will give the most natural looking light. Do not use ammonia or alcohol based cleaners for acrylic. Alcohol and ammonia damage acrylic over time.
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