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.