DIY Eco-Friendly Bath Remodeling Part 1

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 .

Written by Wenona Napolitano

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,,, eHow, Associated Content, Suite101 and


Leave a Reply

Comments (Keep It Civil...)

Where Did the Eco Go?

How to Make Spray Starch