Bathroom pitfalls … and how to avoid them
If kitchens are the hub of the home, then bathrooms must be the inflated tires around them. They provide a smooth and comfortable ride until something goes wrong – such as worn treads or a bulging sidewall – and they fail to function as designed. Designers and manufacturers of bathroom products have continually been changing trends to keep us chasing that fresh, spa-like bathroom experience. Society ditched the public baths the Roman’s famously built out of fear of spreading disease long ago. While those oversized public baths may seem like a distant mistake of the past – especially amid our modern-day pandemic, there are other design pitfalls to avoid during your own bathroom renovation!
Here’s a quick cheat sheet …
- Custom shower pans – we recommend custom fibreglass over the rubber membrane with a dry-pack method to avoid leaks below the shower. If you go with the conventional, do the dry-pack before the drywall work to avoid risk to tears which result in leaks.
- Check fixture flowrates – and total them relative to your hot water tank or tankless hot water heater/boiler. Some tub fillers have rates of nine gallons per minute, which can knock out a combination boiler or steal an entire tank of hot water in seconds, leaving the rest of the house on ice!
- Insulate the floor and wall under the tub – to avoid losing the heat from your bathwater in a hurry! Tubs are installed before the drywall, and sometimes these cavities are forgotten, until the first dip in the bath!
- Add a floor drain beside the toilet. Toilets back up – virtually every toilet has a failure at some point in their lifespan, and this drain can save a lot of mess and associated costs in an overflow or a seal failure.
- Membrane the walls – green board, fibreglass board and cement board are not perfectly waterproof. Add a membrane, glue on, paint on, no matter the type; it will help ensure you avoid the long-term effects of water creeping behind the tile or slabs on the walls.
- Cover your fixtures during the work stage – especially the shower floor and the tub. Tools fall, materials grind and finishes are delicate and often expensive. Preserve the new stuff until the job is complete with liquid membranes, insulation and hard surface coverings, so you don’t prematurely dull the shine or marry the finish.
- Not all mixing valves are created equal – Splurge for a shower valve with controllable temperatures inside the valve, especially if you have a tankless water heater or combination-boiler. Otherwise, you might be left with a lukewarm rinse until you decide to renovate again.
- Recirculatation lines to the vanity faucet and shower and tub fixtures – will ensure you are not running water long to obtain the hot water you are after – especially for on-demand tankless and boiler systems. Saves wasting time and water – a win-win! Insulate those lines to avoid wasting energy for the winning hat trick.
- Pick and then plumb – true of all fixtures, but especially for showers, toilets and vanities, as wall-hung units can create different plumbing rough-ins and avoid costly re-run at finish installation time.
- Potlights – best kept for inside the shower or water closet only, not at the vanity as they create long and dark facial shadows that can make you look old and tired at any time of day. No thanks!
If you want to design, build or renovate your perfect bathroom, remember these pitfalls, and know there is real value in working with a professional to design and create the space. Visit renomark.ca, the home of the professional renovator, to start your search when looking to start your project!
||Brendan Charters is a Founding Partner at Toronto design-build firm Eurodale Developments Inc., the 2020 BILD Renovator of the Year.
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Observing the growth and changes in your tropical plants allows you to determine if they are receiving enough light. Plants that don't get enough light will usually look pale, have longer than normal stems, and smaller than normal leaves. Sometimes, a plant will look as if it is reaching for light: A sure sign that it needs to either be placed in a sunnier window or the natural light augmented with artificial light. Plants with colourful foliage will often lose colour when they do not get enough light and revert to green leaves.
Plants that are receiving too much light often develop burn spots on the leaves. In some cases, the leaves will turn pale and watery before wilting and drying up. These symptoms can have other causes, but if a plant is sitting in the hot sun on a south-facing windowsill when these symptoms occur, it is a good bet that too much light is the problem. Move it away from the window at least during mid-day, and give it a couple of weeks to determine if that makes a difference. Note that a south-facing window will produce less than 200-foot candles of light in winter and more than 2,000-foot candles in early summer. A plant that is happy in a sunny window this time year may not be so happy come summer.
Fertilizing indoor plants in winter is necessary only when you see new growth developing, or the plant is in bloom. Otherwise, your tropical plants are "resting" this time of year and will not benefit from a fertilizer application. It is best to err on the side of caution and give plants a little less than the amount the instructions call for.
There are several forms of fertilizer available: Granular, slow-release granules and spikes, and water-soluble. In our opinion, the best choice for houseplants is a water-soluble formula. The elements in it are readily available for the plant's use and you will be able to see the effect right away. Choose from synthetic plant food such as 20-20-20 or an organic such as Pro Mix Liquid plant food.
The final step in choosing your houseplant fertilizer is determined by the plants you have. Some, such as African violets and geraniums, have fertilizers formulated specifically for them. African violet fertilizer, for instance, often is a 10-30-30 with traces of boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc.
Do not fertilize plants when they are wilted, dry or dormant – in other words, not growing.
At this time of year, the air in most Canadian homes is very dry and conditions are perfect for insects to thrive. To raise the humidity around your plants, place a tray filled with pebbles and water under your plants. The water should not touch the bottom of the pots. The pebble/tray will create a humid atmosphere due to evaporation.
Keep the leaves free from dust accumulation by washing them with a soft cloth that has been sprayed with insecticidal soap. African violets and other "hairy" leafed plants should not be misted or washed with a cloth. They should be washed in lukewarm, soapy water. Just hold the soil in place with your fingers while inverting the plant, swish the plant in the soapy water and rinse twice in clear water.
Here in Canada, we endure a long, cold winter that encourages us to reach for tropical plants for good reason. There is literally no better way to introduce humidity and oxygen into the indoor environment. With the right care and located in the right place, your indoor plants will live a good long life and you will reap many benefits from them.
Mark Cullen is a Member of the Order of Canada. He reaches more than two million Canadians with his gardening/environment messages every week. Ben Cullen is a professional gardener with a keen interest in food gardening and the environment. You can follow both Mark and Ben on Twitter (@MarkCullen4), Facebook (facebook.com/MarkCullenGardening) and Instagram (instagram.com/markcullengardening). Receive their free monthly newsletter at markcullen.com.
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