A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Bathroom Planning, Again

2013020701Whenever I set my project goals for the year I often seem to find a way to make them a reality. I’m hoping that might be the case this year for the first floor bathroom.

Every time I mention the first floor bathroom I feel like I have to point out that the previous owner remodeled it sometime in the ’90s (he was proud of his Swedish heritage) and we had NOTHING TO DO with it!

Today I decided to create a spreadsheet to figure out a true budget for remodeling the bathroom.

In the past I’ve debated about whether or not to replace the tub with a jacuzzi-type tub (and I also thought the bathroom would be remodeled by now!), but since then I’ve decided that the original tub is perfectly fine, especially since this bathroom is no longer our master bath. Its biggest drawback is that the original color is a teal green but it was reglazed in white. The glazing is chipped in a few spots along the edge of the tub, so we’d have to have that redone.


We’d save on most fixtures because we replaced the toilet a few years ago with a Toto Dual-Flush and I like the sink the PO installed. The faucets and shower head also work perfectly fine, so we wouldn’t replace those either.


2013020702The lighting over the medicine cabinet would definitely have to go. I’d probably replace it with sconces on either side of the medicine cabinet, but I’d keep the medicine cabinet itself.

So, that leaves us with the walls, floor AND ceiling (look up in the photo at right — the ceiling is tiled too!). Oy!

First things first: DEMO

The good thing about demo is that, except for dumpster rental, it’s FREE. We’ve rented dumpsters from the local waste management company and I know I’d save money by going with a Bagster. (And if there’s enough room in the Bagster, I’d convince Pete that we should demo the fireplace façade at the same time!)

Total cost for the Bagster + pickup in our area: $160

The next thing would be to install the underlayment. For the tub surround, we’d of course go with Durock or Hardibacker because we’d be tiling that area. I was researching Durock, and USG, the manufacturer, offers Fiberock Aqua as backer board for tile-to-paint transitions. I think this would work well for the remaining walls since we wouldn’t be tiling up to (and including) the ceiling this time!

Estimated cost for underlayment: $200

One hurdle might be the floor underlayment. It pains me to say that I know that the PO tiled over the original floor. He said there were cracks in the original floor, and it was originally set in a thick concrete underlayment. I don’t think it’d be worth it to tear the whole floor out, but I’m hoping we could “easily” demo this newer tile and retile with a bungalow-appropriate floor. I’m really liking this Basketweave tile from The Tile Shop. Since the bathroom is small, we wouldn’t need much.

I’d go with the ubiquitous but classic subway tile for the tub surround and walls. I think the tile that Home Depot sells is perfectly fine, and the price is right!

Estimated cost for floor and wall tile: $370

I’m going to throw in another $200 to cover thinset, grout and other miscellaneous supplies, so our total cost without the tub refinishing is $930. I still don’t know if we could swing it this year, but that doesn’t sound bad at all!

I called a local tub reglazing place, and he gave me a quote for $310 to strip and reglaze the tub. That seems pretty cheap. He said the tiling should be done before the tub, so we could always wait a bit longer on that.

Instead of having to use a shower curtain (or sliding glass doors), I’d also be very interested in installing a semi-frameless shower screen, which has a water-tight seal and hinges open to access the faucet. The guy who installed our stair railing and woodwork told me about it and how nice it works (and looks). That costs around $400, but could also be added later.

I’m not sure what I was expecting as far as cost goes, but in general I think this might be doable in the foreseeable future — yippee!


  1. Sharon on February 7, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    That bathroom is sort of “cool” in a bright and interesting sort of way. But I can totally understand how you could hate it and want to replace it. Our bathroom isn’t bad, and I’m planning to tear it up soon.

    • denise on February 8, 2013 at 8:19 am

      Other people have said they think it’s kind of “cool” too (but they also thought it was from the 1950s or 60s!). Ugh, I just can’t stand it. The colors are so not “me”, especially for the home.

  2. Chris on February 8, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    First, thank you for this interesting blog. It is exciting to follow the evolution of your bungalow. I hope time and resources will allow you to finally transform the bathroom.

    One question/comment concerns the tiling of the ceiling. If the PO is tall, that would explain the ceiling.

    I come from a family where almost everyone is over 6 feet tall. We have tiled the shower ceiling in several houses to avoid the inevitable problems of peeling and mildew caused by the water bouncing off our heads. We also routinely raise the shower heads and install kitchen sink bases to gain 4 – 6′ in sink height.

    • denise on February 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      Hi Chris–thanks for reading and for your comment! That totally makes sense to tile the ceiling in the shower area (which I would plan on doing), but this is in the main area outside the shower so I think it’s overkill (8-foot ceilings). We know the PO (we used to live 2 houses away), and he definitely isn’t tall! 🙂

      Great idea on raising the shower heads and sink bases–my very tall brother-in-law pointed that out for our cottage remodel too. We’ll probably get an adjustable/removable shower wand to accommodate everyone.

      • Chris on February 8, 2013 at 3:19 pm

        Putiing tile over the entire ceiling is an entirely differnt matter.

        I recommend the wand attachment for your shower. We have used one for several years and it gives you a lot of flexibility.

        As for the sink height, My Mom who is all of 5’2″ installed higher sinks years ago to suit herself. I think most folks appreciate not having to bend so far down to a 30″ high sink.

  3. Kathy on February 11, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    You KNOW you’re going to find enough room to demo the fireplace, and you KNOW you’re not just going to be able to leave the faceless fireplace just sitting there…. I think your project list is spawning again. 🙂

  4. denise on February 14, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    @Chris — Yes, I never understood why bathroom sinks are so low!

    @Kathy — Haha, you know me too well, my friend!

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