I just moved into my first home back in November 2013. My girlfriend and I knew coming in we had our work cut out for us. We bought the house from an older woman, who her and her late husband built it back in the sixties or early seventies, I can’t remember. Needless to say, most of the house was outdated. The biggest transformation so far has been the bathroom.
The sole bathroom in this house looked highly unconventional. There was carpet, and a drop-in sink on one of the far corners of the 6-foot kitchen style counter. To top it all off: a blue toilet! Yes, blue toilet. There was also a natural oak toilet seat. All the cabinets, mirrors, and the light strip were also matching oak, which are remaining in the meantime. Same with the pressed board tile paneling for walls and the Bath Fitter shower/tub that happens to be covering a blue shower.
When originally looking into buying the house, it was a no brainer that changes had to be made in the bathroom. Once this little slice of the American dream became ours, the first order of business was new flooring. My first instinct was vinyl that snapped together like laminate flooring. Working at the local hardware store that features a diverse flooring display, I was well aware of the products available. I forgone purchasing the flooring through any of our distributors and went to Lumber Liquidators. If you’re willing to make the drive, I recommend following suit. There, we found a 1’x 2′ snap-together vinyl tile that offered a neutral tone to start from. We then found a simple yet sizable pedestal sink, our first white toilet (we found it broke in the box, so it was exchanged for one in good shape), and a brushed nickel faucet that resembled an old water pump. We also decided to buy a shower faucet to match in color to the sink faucet.
About a week after we had those items, I employed my father to help with the work. He’s built all three houses I’ve lived in before finally moving out on my own, plus he and I have installed laminate flooring systems together over the past 15 years. What we didn’t expect was underneath the carpeting was yet another layer of carpet. Once we removed both layers, there was still one more layer: the original vinyl adhesive tile. We didn’t have the right tools to remove it. There was just one free slotted screwdriver and a plastic putty knife for removing wallpaper in other parts of the house. After that knuckle-busting experience, I quickly pulled any remaining staples from the carpet and then it was time to install the flooring.
Installation was quick. Masking tape and a table saw made clean, square cuts. The jigsaw was ideal for around the toilet flange. The toilet came next much to the pleasure of a few bladders. A brand new setup from a new shutoff valve and supply line to everything with the toilet went in without a hitch and that was one day of work for us.
Over the course of the next week, I replaced the countertop with the pedestal and the new faucet, also with new shutoff valves and supply lines, and even a new P-trap for good measure. I finished off the last of the plumbing portion of the changes with the new shower faucet. That included making a hole in the wall through the coat closet in the living room to get to the old mixer valve body. Sharkbite plumbing pieces saved a lot of time without the need to solder the copper. My girlfriend then added extra storage and brushed nickel towel and paper holders to finish off the changeover until we do phase two of the bathroom renovation in the near future. As we always do, CFL bulbs replaced any incandescent bulbs. The second phase will include replacing the light bar and all other wall-hung cabinets and mirrors, installing an overhead light with exhaust fan, and putting in moisture-resistant drywall.
As someone who is involved with construction/renovation from both a sales and customer standpoint, I would approach every bathroom the same way. The vinyl flooring is resilient and 100% waterproof. Sharkbite brand fittings are more expensive, but the ease of use and their compatibility with PEX, CPVC, and copper more than make up for it. As I need to replace copper, I will be converting to PEX and Sharkbite fittings will be used whenever possible. Plastic drain traps are both less expensive and last longer than their metal counterparts. Pedestal sinks are great where room is an issue. Last, but not least, in a bathroom, use stainless steel fasteners. The high humidity from showers will take their toll on anything not made to withstand moisture.