Saturday, November 10, 2012

$500 Bathroom Update

I am pleased to report that our DIY bathroom renovations are almost complete. Almost. It cost us around $500 in total, but some of the supplies will carry over into our kitchen renovation so we will get use out of them.

Our bathroom functioned well - there's not much you can do in a tiny space anyway. But we were sick of the dusty pink tiles and the vinyl floor.

This is what we were up against:

Our priorities were as follows:
Tile flooring
Replace anything pink with white
Update the vanity cabinet as cheaply as possible
Frame the mirror
Get rid of the rusty old medicine cabinet


We felt that the earthy tones made the bathroom feel dark and crowded and we wanted something fresh and bright.
We also didn't like the vanity cabinet - the beige wood laminate wasn't really our style.

First to go was the laminate flooring.

This was WAY harder than we had anticipated. Tutorials we found online said to just cut it into strips, pull it up and "Presto! Vinyl removed!"

Hahaha, what a joke.

It was not that easy. We cut it into strips, then pulled, scratched, clawed, scraped, swore profusely, took several breaks and questioned our motives for wanting tile in the first place. It took us all day, but we finally succeeded. We have the following considerations in retrospect:
  • Our laminate was laid in 2001, so it was just over 10 years old. Perhaps this had something to do with its flaking and falling apart?
  • We did manage to get the plasticy (is that a word?) top off, by cutting it in strips and then pulling the strip up at a 45 degree angle to the floor. This technique was the most successful, but we still had to deal with the papery (?) bottom.
  • Once the plastic-feeling top as removed from the paper-ish bottom side, we sprayed the heck out of it with a vinegar/water solution and also went at it with our steam cleaner to loosen it up for removal. We then scraped like hell. Not sure if these techniques are deemed harmful or if there was another solution, but it worked for us.
We weren't too worried about minor scratches to the subflooring or the black sealant that had been painted on because we were going to use a Ditra Subflooring. This is what our floor looked like at the end of day 1:

The subflooring was in pretty good shape - no major cracks etc.

When we removed the toilet to tile underneath, we discovered that it had been leaking. Not a great discovery, but also not an expensive fix - the wax ring just needed replacing (which needs replacing every time you remove the toilet anyway). Had we not been renovating the bathroom, we wouldn't have noticed the leak, so even though we just set out for a cosmetic makeover, there was one functional benefit from the renovation.

Here's the tile flooring after:

Our next problem was removing the gross dusty pink tiles from the back splash and all around the shower. It was very disheartening to damage the walls so badly, but they were very difficult to remove. It seems that our original bathroom was built to withstand a horrific natural disaster. Too bad we didn't like the pink...

We ended up patching the heck out of it, but in retrospect, we could have just replaced the gyprock. Not sure how easy that would have been with the large mirror on the wall though. Anyway, what's done is done. We patched it with Pollyfilla for big holes... several times. Then sanded it, ready to tile.

We also removed the medicine cabinet, but then had to fill it in with gyprock... which was not the same depth as the original. That caused a whole lot of problems too. But we also filled that with Polyfilla and it turned out okay.

As for the vanity cabinet, we just painted straight over the laminate finish, using Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer/Sealer and the following steps:
1. Wash down thoroughly with TSP. The amount of gunk build up over 10 years in the bathroom is kinda gross, especially with all the gels, sprays and lotions that previous tenants had used.
2. Thoroughly hand sand with 120-grit sandpaper.
3. Wipe down again with the TSP to remove any loose particles from the sanding.
4. Paint with Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer/Sealer.
Repeat steps 2-4 once dry (follow instructions on the can).
We then had to wait a few days for the primer to really adhere to the laminate. We actually just waited until the following weekend before we painted it with our chosen semi-gloss (Cloud White by Benjamin Moore) then attached new cabinet hardware.

Cabinet before:

Cabinet After:

We were SUPER pleased with the results and would totally consider painting out our laminate kitchen cabinets this way, if the laminate wasn't already damaged beyond repair...

Our last priority for the bathroom was to jazz up the boring old builder grade mirror. We followed this simple blog tutorial from The Idea Room to frame the mirror using chair rail. We found that the wood bowed in the middle, making it difficult to stick to the mirror (masking tape didn't even hold it), so we found ourselves standing on the vanity counter, leaning into it and playing with our iPhones while we waited for the glue to adhere enough to let go. Again, we are very pleased with the results.

It took us five weekends in total to complete the job. We also replaced the lighting fixture (The old one was covered in rust patches). All that needs to be done now is find some nice glass shelves to put up where the medicine cabinet was, but we're still searching for the right ones.

Here are some more after photos:

Our storage problems in the bathroom still remain, so we still rely on our space-saving storage solutions around and above the door.

It feels so much brighter, cleaner and more elegant now. All the problems we encountered, though catastrophic at the time, seem insignificant now and I am so pleased we updated the bathroom.

Apologies if I haven't covered something in detail in this post - there was so much to cover. Let me know if you have any questions!

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