Sunday, January 22, 2017

Make it an Easy-clean bathroom

I have often appreciated the bare minimum condo developers provide in each room of the condo, leaving them to owners to customize.  It has become a tradition, and almost a hobby to get busy with a small size renovation project around this time each year.

This year, inspired by this houzz article, I decided to make some changes to the bathroom.

I was spending time scrubbing the grout, and trying to get the green spots that appeared recently on bathtub tiles.  I didn't think I could get the green off the tiles completely.  It made sense to remove and replace the tub surround tiles.  The green spots may have been due to the fact that the fan was not working properly, so I added cleaning the fan to the list.

The existing porcelain floor tiles, 12x12, gray, covered roughly 31sq/feet area, which meant a large area to clean grout. I decided to go with a larger tile, and darker color, but stick with porcelain, because they are less porous, harder, and less prone to stain.

For the longest time, I had searched online or popped in home decor and furnishing stores looking for a practical way to organize the toiletries, however nothing appealed. The most common, the shower caddies, all took up extra space, and if not cleaned regularly would best case look dirty, and worst case rust.  I was replacing the bathtub tile surround, so I could ask for a niche that is deep and wide enough to hold all items now sitting in the four corners of the bathtub.  Each week, cleaning under each item was time consuming. With the niche, I only had to swipe clean one surface.

The tub and vanity are in good shape, and easy to clean, so I left those out of the project plan.  But, I decide to get a new, chrome finish shower set.  I had brushed nickle spout, and control which despite scrubbing them clean with lemon juice the looked darkened, and old.

My wish-list was complete, so all I needed now was a good contractor to execute the project on time and within my budget.

I had had good working experience with Home Depot installers.  I used them for two previous flooring projects.  They had a project expert at the store.  He was so helpful, and knowledgeable.  I only had to tell him what I have in mind, and he would recommend the material.

I had second thoughts on going with Home Depot when I found out Home Depot has replaced the residence expert with a project center.   But being able to use Home Depot credit services and pay the cost of the project over 12 months period, interest free, lured me back in.

Not having the residence expert, I took to the internet, read through client feedback posted on each item on Home Depot web site, to make my selection.  Not having anyone to verify if the choices I've made fit their necessary purpose, I completed and paid for the order.  The total cost of material and labor came to $3700, a bit higher than I expected, but I was quite excited about my choices, and anxious to see the end result that I forgave myself for going over the budget.

I chose
  white mosaic mesh for the bathtub surround,
  porcelain glazed, matt finish 24x24 in beige for the floor
  and two piece delta control and hand shower in chrome finish, and a separate spout in chrome finish
The work started on the Monday and finished on Thursday, on time, as promised four days.  However, unlike past projects, this one faced a couple of bumps along the way.

Day 1: the demo took half a day, when the work was done, there was a layer of dust every where and there was a rather large chip on the engineered hardwood floor.  The demo guys didn't have floor and furniture protection sheets, and although I had called ahead of the project start day to inquire what I need to prepare the home, I was not made aware to get my own.

Day 2: building the niche, installing the waterproof drywall, and tiles, however when it was time to install the tiles I was made aware of the possibility of some of the meshes, especially in the corners, not being completely aligned with one another.  Bottom line, what I picked was not meant for large surface, such as tub surround.  There was no choice but to take the tiles back to the store and get new ones, subway tiles as recommended by the installer, this perceived inconvenience shed $500 off the project cost :)

Day 3: install the faucet, control and head shower, install the floor tiles except for the rough-in of a hand shower and control won't work if there is a spout.  So, the only way to make progress in project is to use my old shower head and control, but apparently the demo guys have got rid of the old set.  So, the installers promise to buy a set.  What seemed as a set back, saved another $300 off the project cost :)

Day 4: grout, baseboards, towel bar, shower curtain bar, a full contractor came to finish up
I went with the gray non-sanded grout.  This color, and type grout worked well with both the floor and the bathroom tiles.  I used the floor tile for baseboard.  The guys also helped with installing a towel bar, and shower curtain rod.

The end result:

Lessons learned: Talk to an expert when picking material, ensure and don't leave it to the installer to bring the proper protection for your floor and furniture.