DIY Home + Garden bathroom remodel before

Published on March 5th, 2011 | by Wenona Napolitano

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DIY Eco-Friendly Bath Remodeling Part 1

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vanity to be repainted and savedThis weekend my bathroom is being demolished to make way for all new, well mostly new, stuff. We are trying to be as eco as possible but have run into a few problems along the way.

First of all, the paint. I had my heart set on Freshaire paint. Home Depot no longer carries this brand or any other brand of paint that is considered eco-friendly. But after I contacted Freshaire they said Glidden Premium and Martha Stewart Living paints are low to no VOC paints. So we opted for Glidden.

Second, we were hoping to save the bathtub but have to move the tub to fix the rotted out floor underneath. Because the bathroom is so tiny and the tub is squeezed in so tight, it looks like we’re going to have to break it to get it out. So much for saving the tub.

The third problem: there is not a whole lot of eco anything available at the local home stores. For flooring we decided on linoleum which I discovered is more natural and eco than most flooring since it’s made from natural linseed oil and wood sawdust.

Too bad once we got the flooring home we disovered it’s not real linoleum, it’s vinyl. The saleswoman said it was linoleum, not vinyl floor sheeting. It’ll have to do since we already bought it and there’s nothing else in our price range. Plus the solid sheet will give us a good seal without lines for moisture to leak through which seems to have happened with our square floor tiles, as the floor is completely rotted underneath.

The toilet, sink and vanity are being saved and reused and some of the shelving is being moved to the basement to be repurposed and reused. My husband is making a new shelf unit to fit between the wall and vanity. I am going to clean and shine the sink and toilet all up so they look brand new and give the vanity a new look with a coat of paint.

I thought I would stain it but upon inspecting it I discovered only the front seems to be real wood (if it even is solid) and the sides are particle board with a sticker type overlay. My approach is to lightly sand everything then paint it to match the new over the toilet cabinet I am purchasing that is a java color. We’ll see how it goes.

tile with issuesWe are getting a new tub and tub surround and ditching the tiles that are falling out of the tub/shower area now. These tiles have been falling out since the week they were installed. The grout has turned black and orange and we have used everything to clean and scrub it- both eco and non eco- and it still won’t come clean. It’s disgusting and has to go.

I plan to save some of the floor and tub tiles to possibly craft with them. Not sure what yet, but I’m brainstorming. Any crafty tile ideas? I have both small ceramic tub tiles and a few vinyl floor tiles that I will try to save if the hubby doesn’t go hog wild and take out all his frustrations and utterly destroy everything in the tear down.

I am disappointed that we couldn’t go more eco on this renovation but we are constrained by time, budget and access to eco supplies. The good news is we are making everything into low flow to conserve water and we will be insulating everything to conserve energy, even the toilet and we are adding a liner to hopefully stop summer toilet sweating.

This is the third time this bathroom has been remodeled in the past 12 years. Let’s hope all the plumbing leaks, rotting floor issues, and terrible tile debacles are fixed this time and I don’t have to suffer through another remodel in the next couple years. It is sad that the past two remodels were done by people I hired to do the job right, who were supposed professionals in their field. Professionals that really sucked. I think monkeys with hammers could have done a better job.

This time we’re doing it ourselves. After much experience we now live by the rule “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” Out of all the remodeling we have done to this house over the years, so far the kitchen is the best and we redid that ourselves.

This time around let’s hope the bathroom turns out as nice as the kicthen did .

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About the Author

Wenona is married with three crazy kids that range in age from 4 to 18. She is a freelance writer, poet and the author of The Everything Green Wedding Book. She enjoys reading, writing, crafting and gardening. She tries to do all of these as "greenly" as possible. Her writing has appeared in several local and regional publications, Pack O Fun, Today's Creative Home Arts, and Indiana Living Green magazines as well as numerous online sites including PlentyMag.com, EthicalWeddings.com, MyEcoChicWedding.com, eHow, Associated Content, Suite101 and Life123.com.



  • Jill

    It’s hard to do an eco reno, especially on a budget. I’d suggest checking out a ReStore if you have one in your area. There are some great things there, sometimes you can even find brand new (like tiles!). Also, as far as tile crafts go, I’m currently working on some tile coasters, and if you do end up with them broken to pieces, maybe a mosaic? :) Good luck with the renos!

    • Wenonawildrose

      I love the ReStore. If my vanity doesn’t work out I’ll be dropping by to see if they have something. The one I like at Home Depot is around $500 which is way over our budget now.

      If I can salvage any tiles I plan to do coasters but they’re so nasty I don’t know if I even want to try cleaning them.

  • http://ecofriendlybasics.com Tammy

    I’m in the same boat with my bathroom makeover. I’m getting rid of my shower/tub surround and going with tile. Those surrounds are not very easy to clean. I also have a small bathroom that wasn’t vented properly and led to a lot of moisture and mold problems. I found there’s an additive that can be added to paint to prevent mold growth so I’ll be adding that to whatever paint I use. I have a feeling I’m going to be dealing with some rotten wood too once we start tearing things apart. Good luck to you! By the way, Jill had a great idea…look for a ReStore!

  • Nicole

    We are also in the midst of a bathroom reno and have experienced the same problems as you with not being able to find eco-friendly products in our area. We have purchased low VOC paint and water saving fixtures, but that’s where it ends for us! We have already installed the new tub and surround and it’s made a world of difference in terms of freshening the space up! We did go to a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store to look for a vanity, but didn’t find one that fit in our tiny bathroom. I’m sure there is one in your area, and that would boost the green effect in your bathroom! Also, for the ceramic tiles you are removing, you could paint them, stamp on them or decoupage and make drink coasters with them or trivets for the kitchen. Good luck! Post some pics of the completed reno-I’d love to see them!

  • Jaime Mckee

    I was able to find zero VOC (and recycled) paint at a local store in my town – and I thought that Home Depot carried CIL’s NaturalLiving line – but I experienced the same problems with flooring. Like you, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about linoleum (you hear that word and, well, I just didn’t assume it was eco-friendly!) but the folks at Home Depot didn’t seem to know the difference between it and vinyl. They literally steered us toward vinyl when we specifically asked for linoleum, and we actually had to explain the difference to them. Then, as it turned out, they only carried two varieties of lino (if it was actually even the real thing), both hideous and cheap-looking. Grr. Argh.

    Our bathroom is still a work-in-progress, but at least I was able to refinish and salvage the old claw-foot tub!

  • http://www.small-bathroom-remodeling.org/ small bathroom remodeling

    Motion sensitive faucets are more expensive to buy and install but save water in the long run, makeing them more eco-friendly.

  • http://www.calloutfitters.co.uk CallOutFitters

    I think it needs to be addressed the issue in finding eco products on a more wider scale, we would all like to be as eco as possible but the cost versus return can be very minimal

  • http://www.kitchenssimply.co.uk/ Kitchens

    The sounds of Eco-friendly product is really bang on. I ever recommending for Eco-friendly product due to global warming. Bring those type of cabinets and appliance which not harm to our environment.

  • Joaquin Erazo, Jr.

    Bravo for attempting to make your remodeling  an eco-remodeling
    effort. It sounds like you really tried to think out ways to salvage
    materials and replace with eco-friendly alternatives.  Planning is a big
    part of the game, especially when you often have to search for supplies
    and stay within budget.  I liked that you repainted the vanity instead
    of junking it just because you wanted something new.  As long as it was
    functional and sound, you were able to achieve what you wanted anyway – a
    fresh new look at a fraction of the cost.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PYXVVVSSOFVHYMVTFHHJZ7B2YU Brett Aitken

    Remodeling the bathroom is one of the very difficult task as it requires very much knowledge about it.. One should know how to do it and must make the plan before..
    small bathtubs

  • http://www.ecosolveamericas.com/ Courtney Fisher

    A great idea for tile crafts is making mosaics this way even the broken ones can be saved!

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