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HeatherMacCloud
Redoing a bathroom on the cheap

The bathroom in my house is in pretty desperate need of an update, so I'm trying to find a way to do so as inexpensively as possible. I have a list of things that have to be done. Namely replacing the floor, there's vinyl down now, I'd like to put down tile, replacing the sink, and repairing some rotted sheetrock. I have a few questions though.
First, about the tub. It's still in decent shape. It's got a few nicks in it and some hard water stains. Is it possible to refinish it so it looks new without having to buy a whole new tub? If it is, is that something I can do myself or would I need to hire someone? Or is just more cost effective to replace the tub and forget refinishing it?
Next, I have a question about tile types. Is there any benefit to stone tile over ceramic? I've found several ceramic tiles that I like, but from what I've seen in magazines and such people are using stone tile in bathrooms. Is this just a trend for more high end houses?
Last, the paint in the bathroom is peeling, especially up near the ceiling. It looks like it's peeling to the drywall, in large patches about the size of a dinner plate. I'm not sure why it's doing that, but it's been doing it for years. I'm not too sure how to keep it from doing it again. Will just scraping off the peeling parts and sanding it smooth be enough to stop it? Or would it be better to strip the paint off and start fresh? It hasn't been painted with primer for at least 30 years, if ever. So would using primer on it help?
Sorry for all the questions. Thanks for the help!

A. Spruce
Re: Redoing a bathroom on the cheap
HeatherMacCloud wrote:

The bathroom in my house is in pretty desperate need of an update, so I'm trying to find a way to do so as inexpensively as possible.

DO NOT think that cutting corners or using inferior materials and products will get you a "cheap" remodel. What it will get you is a very expensive remodel when you have to replace products that fail prematurely or don't function in the manner that they should.

HeatherMacCloud wrote:

First, about the tub. It's still in decent shape. It's got a few nicks in it and some hard water stains. Is it possible to refinish it so it looks new without having to buy a whole new tub? If it is, is that something I can do myself or would I need to hire someone? Or is just more cost effective to replace the tub and forget refinishing it?

Yes, you can have the tub/shower refinished. Last tub I had done was around $350. They say that refinishing lasts about 5 years, however, it's longevity is directly correlated to how much it is used, how roughly it is handled, and what is used to clean it. Most of my customers have reported much longer durations. If you do not need to replace the surround, then refinishing will be the way to go. If you have to replace the surround, then tub replacement won't cost that much more in the grand scheme of things, and you'll have a fresh factory finish that will last you a very long time.

HeatherMacCloud wrote:

Next, I have a question about tile types. Is there any benefit to stone tile over ceramic? I've found several ceramic tiles that I like, but from what I've seen in magazines and such people are using stone tile in bathrooms. Is this just a trend for more high end houses

There are porcelain, ceramic, and stone tile, each has it's use, porcelain tile does not do well for flooring. What you choose, as long as it is suitable for the purpose, is more personal preference. Personally, I'd stay away from the latest "fad" designs and colors, and stick to classic looks that never go out of style. IMHO, you need to be thinking about resale value when you do remodeling projects. While you want something that you will enjoy, you also want to keep with things that the masses like, which are the classics.

HeatherMacCloud wrote:

Last, the paint in the bathroom is peeling, especially up near the ceiling. It looks like it's peeling to the drywall, in large patches about the size of a dinner plate. I'm not sure why it's doing that, but it's been doing it for years. I'm not too sure how to keep it from doing it again. Will just scraping off the peeling parts and sanding it smooth be enough to stop it? Or would it be better to strip the paint off and start fresh? It hasn't been painted with primer for at least 30 years, if ever. So would using primer on it help?

Sounds like a moisture problem, which would mean that an exhaust fan is in order. The ceiling can be scra-ped to remove the loose stuff, floated smooth, retextured and repainted. If the drywall is damaged, then it will need to be replaced. As for painting, it is always recommended that you prime bare drywall, or even old painted surfaces, before applying new paint. If you will be doing the paint work yourself to keep costs down, then you will want to use Zinnser Bull's Eye 123. Apply two even coats, then apply the top coat of your choice, two coats as well. Personally, I only use paint dealer quality paints, primarily Kelly Moore, because it handles and works well, goes on smoothly, and offers good protection. IMHO, Behr isn't worth the can it comes in, though there are many here who use and recommend it.

Good luck with your remodel, let us know if you have any more questions, and more importantly, let us know how your project goes and finishes. :cool:

dj1
Re: Redoing a bathroom on the cheap

"...so I'm trying to find a way to do so as inexpensively as possible..."

As you know, every job has labor and material. To do a job "on the cheap" without buying inferior materials will require you to save on labor, meaning you do it yourself, but there's a caution: if you are not professional, the job may end up costing you double.

Only you can determine if you are ready to tackle these jobs or not.

keith3267
Re: Redoing a bathroom on the cheap

There is one consideration on floor tile that has not been addressed and that is friction. You need to use a tile made for floors that has good friction or grip when wet. Some tiles, ceramic and stone, are made for walls and are too slippery when wet to be used on floors.

The rest of the advice above is good and I won't bother repeating it.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Redoing a bathroom on the cheap

Cheap and good don't come in the same package. If you're on a limited budget, I'd suggest doing the upgrades in stages. The end cost will be the same but each 'payment' will be easier to handle. I'd also base the decision on the tub on whether I'm staying a long time. It's not something you want to do later on after everything else has been finished!

Phil

HeatherMacCloud
Re: Redoing a bathroom on the cheap
A. Spruce wrote:

DO NOT think that cutting corners or using inferior materials and products will get you a "cheap" remodel. What it will get you is a very expensive remodel when you have to replace products that fail prematurely or don't function in the manner that they should.

I'm not planning on cutting corners or using crap materials. I've seen that backfire too many times and spent three years living in a house that was torn to hell because of it. What I'm trying to do is maximize my dollar and not spend money on needlessly stuff. Like not buying stone tile for X amount when ceramic tile costs much less and will last as long and look just as good.

A. Spruce wrote:

Yes, you can have the tub/shower refinished. Last tub I had done was around $350. They say that refinishing lasts about 5 years, however, it's longevity is directly correlated to how much it is used, how roughly it is handled, and what is used to clean it. Most of my customers have reported much longer durations. If you do not need to replace the surround, then refinishing will be the way to go. If you have to replace the surround, then tub replacement won't cost that much more in the grand scheme of things, and you'll have a fresh factory finish that will last you a very long time.

The surround on the tub is tile and about 95% of it is in great shape. There's one area around the faucet, though that needs repairs. Somehow, water got in the wall and the sheetrock or whatever the people that built the house used, started to rot. It got progressively worse until now it's a 2'x2' hole around the faucet. My mom put a temporary patch on there to keep it from getting worse, then stuff happened and it never got fixed. That's my first project on the list. My hope is that I can just cut out about a two and a half to three foot square, replace the sheetrock and tile the wall with some extra tile we have. I'm doing it first because if there's anything else going on I want to be able to get it fixed right away.
I'm thinking since most of the surround is fine, refinishing will be the best option. Before I do anything I'm going to see who in my area offers the service, what the cost is, and what kind of work they do. I'd seen ads for tub refinishing before, but didn't know if it was a gimmick or something that was really worthwhile to do.

A. Spruce wrote:

There are porcelain, ceramic, and stone tile, each has it's use, porcelain tile does not do well for flooring. What you choose, as long as it is suitable for the purpose, is more personal preference. Personally, I'd stay away from the latest "fad" designs and colors, and stick to classic looks that never go out of style. IMHO, you need to be thinking about resale value when you do remodeling projects. While you want something that you will enjoy, you also want to keep with things that the masses like, which are the classics.

I'll definitely keep your advice in mind. I want to stick to more neutral colours for the tile so we're not limited on paint colours when we decide to paint again. The tile on the wall is grey, so I was wanting to get a complementary colour/shade for the floor.

A. Spruce wrote:

Sounds like a moisture problem, which would mean that an exhaust fan is in order. The ceiling can be scra-ped to remove the loose stuff, floated smooth, retextured and repainted. If the drywall is damaged, then it will need to be replaced. As for painting, it is always recommended that you prime bare drywall, or even old painted surfaces, before applying new paint. If you will be doing the paint work yourself to keep costs down, then you will want to use Zinnser Bull's Eye 123. Apply two even coats, then apply the top coat of your choice, two coats as well. Personally, I only use paint dealer quality paints, primarily Kelly Moore, because it handles and works well, goes on smoothly, and offers good protection. IMHO, Behr isn't worth the can it comes in, though there are many here who use and recommend it.

Good luck with your remodel, let us know if you have any more questions, and more importantly, let us know how your project goes and finishes. :cool:

It's not actually the ceiling itself that's peeling, it's the walls up by the ceiling. The worst parts are by the heating/AC vent. How hard is putting in an exhaust fan? I've done minor electric work before like replacing outlets. Is it something someone can do themselves or should I be looking for a contractor for that?
I have a Lowes and Sherwin Williams near me. Is Lowes's Valspar paint any good? Or would the Sherwin Williams paint be better?

A. Spruce
Re: Redoing a bathroom on the cheap
HeatherMacCloud wrote:

It's not actually the ceiling itself that's peeling, it's the walls up by the ceiling. The worst parts are by the heating/AC vent. How hard is putting in an exhaust fan? I've done minor electric work before like replacing outlets. Is it something someone can do themselves or should I be looking for a contractor for that?
I have a Lowes and Sherwin Williams near me. Is Lowes's Valspar paint any good? Or would the Sherwin Williams paint be better?

It is still likely a moisture problem. When you shower, you create steam. Heat rises, so all that warm moist air is at the top of the walls and ceiling. That moisture also condenses on the walls and ceiling, causing the alligatoring of the paint. The repair is still as described above, sc**** off as much of the loose/rough stuff as you can, float the area smooth with drywall topping compound, retexture, prime - 2 coats, paint - 2 coats.

Installing an exhaust fan is not difficult, however, you do need to vent it all the way to the exterior, which may require knowledge of roofing if you go though the roof, or siding, if you penetrate the siding. As far as electrical, it's a simple circuit, you need a power source with a switched hot leg. The hard part will be fishing the wire down the wall to your switch location. You can use the existing switch location and simply install a stacked switch, the top switch will be the light, the bottom switch will be the fan.

Both Sherwin Williams and Valspar paint are good. I've used both with good results.

keith3267
Re: Redoing a bathroom on the cheap

Hate to be the bearer of potentially bad news, but I had a similar situation around the tub and once I started in, the problem was like a can of worms, the more I opened up, the more I discovered that needed repair. Soon it was a gut job.

I hope yours is not as bad, but I do think that in the end, you may end up gutting the tub area. If so, if you don't really use the tub for bathing, you may want to consider a shower stall instead. If you like tiling, you could build a complete shower stall yourself as I did or you can just buy a prefab which I will do if I ever face this issue again.

The one I made is curb-less in case one of us is ever wheel chair bound, something to consider.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Redoing a bathroom on the cheap

To minimize wiring, you could install a light/fan combo and tie them together so nothing needs to be done but vent the fan. The downside is that the fan always runs with the light on which means a bit of noise and the fan wears out faster. I do this in rentals with small baths because sometimes people forget to turn the fan on for showering and this way they can't, thus eliminating moisture problems which cost more than a new fan/light to fix :cool: You can add a separate switch later if you wish.

I prefer S/W paint over Valspar, mostly for it applying better- many Valspar paints just don't seem to want to leave the brush or roller unless you force them to and I've never had that problem with S/W (except for their Classic 99 if they still make it- I won't use that stuff either.) But Valspar is a good paint and you won't go wrong with it.

I've seen good tub refinishes, bad tub refinishes, and awful tub refinishes. Some last a few months, some last a few years but the general durability of good jobs is around 5 years. Being that the tub is usually behind the tilework, if it has to come out so does some tile. That bears some deep thought, for if your refinish doesn't last you may want the tub out then and it will mean a lot of extra work. You get the same thing now, but if you replace the tub now there shouldn't be any 'later' involved. You never know what the future holds so if it's in the budget at all I'd want you to get a new tub and eliminate the chance of that 'later' possibility. With some scrounging you may find a return or a 'blem' that you can live with at a discount- ditto for a new home pullout when the new owner wants to upgrade. Make friends at the local plumbing supply house with the sales counter guys- they're great for this kind of thing but you need to give them time to ask around for you.

Most of all kudos for wanting to do this right instead of as cheaply as it can be done, a mistake which far too many people make. Money is important but when it's your home other things are every bit as important as cost, sometimes even moreso.

Phil

dj1
Re: Redoing a bathroom on the cheap

A steel tub is less than $200 and some steel tubs last 25 years. That's a lot cheaper than ripping tile work in 5 years or less, in order to replace the tub.

I'd replace the tub.

Jeanne
Re: Redoing a bathroom on the cheap

The guys here are the pros, but here are a few things I’ve learned along the way working on my own bathrooms.

When tiling in a wet area, it is important to realize that tile plus grout does not equal waterproof. Even tile plus grout plus cement board does not equal waterproof. Go to the John Bridge Tile forum where they will give you step-by-step instructions on how to properly repair or replace your tub surround.

I am concerned that one leaky wall means the others are not much better. I thought the tile in my almost 40-year-old tub surround looked good too – till I leaned on it and felt the whole thing flex.

A white mosaic floor tile would go nice with the grey walls – something similar to this: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Merola-Tile-Metro-Octagon-Matte-White-with-White-Dot-11-1-2-in-x-11-1-2-in-Porcelain-Mosaic-Floor-and-Wall-Tile-9-2-sq-ft-case-FXLMOWWT/203310826

That is a popular tile now and has been for several years, but there are many others. Use grey grout for the floor. White grout shows the dirt too much and black grout in the bathroom makes people think of mold.

Proper subfloor prep is key for a good floor installation so know what you got and ask at the John Bridge forum what you need to add.

“Ditra” is a newer underlayment for tile which looks easier to work with than cement board, but when I looked at it, it was not recommended for tiles under 2”.

I had a really hard time countersinking the screws into the cement board because I didn’t have a strong enough drill (and I am a wimpy female). If I had to do it again I would buy an impact driver.

Although I did some tile work myself, I also had some professionally done. The installation per square foot is more than other installations, but if the bathroom is small, it is not so expensive. One way to save money is to do as much of the demo work as possible. I do have a small wet saw bought at the home center which did a fine job cutting the mosaic tiles. (I did the floors, professional did the tub surround and walls.)

I was able to get my white porcelain cast iron tub really clean with a good scrubbing with “Bar Keeper’s Friend” – wear gloves. It can be found at the store with household cleaners like Comet and Ajax. It saved me from having the tub refinished. However, old porcelain is harder to keep clean than a new fiberglass tub/shower.

Paint for a bath with lots of moisture should be at least semi-gloss – never flat.

You have not mentioned the sink cabinet – if there is one. My old cabinet had warped doors, but the basic cabinet was sturdy and solid wood. I refinished the cabinet and had a cabinetmaker make me new doors. It was a 7 ft cabinet, so refinishing it was a money saver. I used a marine grade poly and it has done very well.

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