Years ago, my husband and I decided to renovate our bathroom. Our big mistake can be your lesson. We worked way too hard for terrible results. DIY television and magazines gave us romantic dreams. Our reality check turned out much differently.
An Orange Surprise
In early 2001, I moved into a rental duplex. Built in the 1950s, I enjoyed the charm and layout. The bathroom featured an old, deep, iron tub. It was perfect for a good bubble bath…for about a week. Then, I cleaned it with regular, store brand cleaner. It turned bright orange right before my eyes. I only wish I took a picture. Shocked, I called the landlord. They had no explanation. Someone suggested that perhaps the previous tenant had used the bathtub to make illicit drugs. The next door neighbor of the duplex agreed. He’d always smelled suspicious activity. My cleaning initiated a chemical reaction to the previous exposure.
The landlord suggested the cleaner they preferred: a harsh one. When I read the label, it recommended against using on a bathtub. I was torn. I tried the cleaner to no avail on the orange. However, it stripped the smooth surface of the tub right off. Now, I had a rough, orange tub. So much for the charm: my husband and I endured the first few years of our marriage with a depressing bath.
Trying to Avoid Renovating
It looked so terrible that I finally convinced my husband to give it a go and renovate it ourselves. First, I tried cleaners advertized as better than renovating. I stayed up late watching infomercials, dreaming of our results. We talked about replacing the whole tub versus resurfacing. As a rental, we went for the cheapest option. None of the landlords we had over the years in that unit ever agreed to help us. By 2005, we took the plunge.
Taking the Plunge, But Not Far Enough
My husband and father-in-law went to the hardware store without me. My father-in-law had done extensive bathroom renovation in the years prior. We believed he was just as good as any contractor. However, we didn’t account for a 1950’s bath tub. Unlike later models, it was so deep that it required two packages of resurfacing material. But they had only bought one. Also, they didn’t consider the original color. Since we were resurfacing, they felt it didn’t matter and bought ivory. At the end of it, we had a white outer tub, and an ivory inside tub. It looked just as awful as when we started. It took far longer than we expected and took a long time to dry, well beyond the package instructions.
Our bathroom went from a terrible before to an embarrassing after. I’m glad I don’t have photos. Our lesson is not that contractors are necessary. Our tip is to research more than dream. Read labels and instructions. And avoid cleaning up after chemical combinations.