Painted Tile Update and Another Remodel Coming Up

Today all the news is about the bathroom.  Here’s a reminder of what I started with in the only bathroom in the house.


This room needed a lot of work. The maple cabinets didn’t fit the style of the house and screamed “bog box, cheap” to me. The purple walls had to go and that floor tile….it was gross.

Not only did they install unglazed tile in a bathroom but renters had let dogs use this room, as well as the living room, for their toilet. The urine smell was god-awful and no amount of cleaning eliminated it.

As my disability is a progressively worsening type I knew any remodel of the bathroom would have to take in to account physical limitations not only now but down the road.  The biggest problem was that I have no idea what those limitations may look like when considering the best layout for the bathroom.

I’ve talked to my kids many times, running ideas past them but we all kept coming back to the same problem. Unlike many people who are wheelchair bound yet living independently, I don’t have the upper body strength to make transfers easy or safe and it will only deteriorate from here.

Some of the ideas I toyed with included moving the plumbing for the tub to the back wall next to the toilet and having a built in bench;; removing the vanity with a smaller model and eliminating the tall storage cabinet to move the toilet into that corner of the room and adding grab bars along the wall which would eliminate the need to move the tub plumbing and still allow for a bench seat in the shower.

I was close to choosing the first option, moving the plumbing in the tub and adding a bench seat where the exiting plumbing is.

While I considered my options I did what I could and painted the floor with a white porch and floor paint to at least seal smell and eliminate the gross factor of touching that floor.

The floor held up nicely until a week ago. I blamed it, privately, on my son, but in a way it is his fault. 🙂   My son had arrived Friday evening (September 30th)  and stayed until the following Sunday (October 9th).  I was grumbling to myself each evening after his shower that the bath mat was soaking wet.  Why couldn’t he dry off in the shower as I’d taught him as a child? Was he not closing the shower curtain properly?  No the mat wasn’t wet in the right spots for that to be the case.   His toiletries were all over the sink even though I cleared a shelf in the storage cabinet for him and his dirty clothes were often left on the floor. I was not in a good mood that week.  I know myself well enough to realize complaining that his level of tidiness was getting on my nerves would do nothing but make for a bad week.

I did what worked best for me. I ignored the bathroom until Monday morning when he was gone.

The grout on the floor was discolored, which was unusual. I considered it was just dirty, construction demolition is dirty work, but closer inspection showed the grout was coming out.  No surprise there, the grout had  been falling out when I moved in because the DIY owner installed it improperly. But now the grout was wet. There was a bigger problem here.

The person who sold us the house tried to hide a crack in the tub by having the tub refinished. Didn’t work. The material was peeling off the crack in the tub before we ever turned on or had water touch it.  I wasn’t ready to replace the tub right away because I wanted to live with this space to see what worked best with my limitations before tackling this job.

Instead we tried patching the crack in the tub. When commercial products didn’t work I used silicone caulking sold for both interior and extoterior applications. This worked and bought me time.

Other than the bath mat feeling wetter than it should other things were nagging at me towards the end of last week. The paint was lifting up off the tiles.


The paint held unless you applied pressure, by walking on it, then it came up stuck to the bottom of your foot. This shouldn’t be happening as this paint holds up on exterior walkways, decks and so on. Even if my son wasn’t drying off before getting out of the shower the paint should have held up fine.

Still I ignored this while my son was here.  This kind of situation is where having another person in my space for too long causes me to pull inward in frustration.  It was bad enough that I was having to pick up his things, yes a passive aggressive move on my part but it kept the peace, but now he was soaking the bathroom floor badly enough that it was causing damage to the painted tile, or so I thought at the time. It’s a good thing that when something really bugs me I hold it inside until I can discuss it calmly or I might have snapped at him over this when it wasn’t something he was doing on purpose.

The Culprit

Being that I must use a shower chair I don’t put any actual weight directly on the crack in the tub, but my son does.  As a result, he inadvertently cracked the base of the tub further which, it turns out, allowed massive amounts of water to get underneath and soak the sub floor.

Sorry for the quality of this photo. You can see everything from the center of the image to the right was previously patched. To the left is the freshly damaged area which caused all the damage.
Sorry for the quality of this photo. You can see everything from the center of the image to the right was previously patched. To the left is the freshly damaged area which caused all the damage.

Now that I knew what was causing the water problem I needed to get a much closer look.


The grout lifted right out without effort. Worse was the subfloor seen  above between the tile and the kitchen flooring. If this is how wet the subfloor is where it is exposed to air how bad is the subfloor under the tub?

Wanting to know just how wet things were in this spot I carefully used a fingernail to see if the tiles were still holding tightly. Sadly, a fingernail was all it took to remove this tile furthest from the tub.



An immediate remodel is necessary.

So much for all the ideas I had for this space.  Now it’s come down to making the necessary repairs as quickly as possible.

I called my son who called one of his more trusted contractors, he’s very cautious who he sends to my home, who will be here Tuesday for what will be a two and a half day project.

The subfloor will be cut out and replaced. If the previous owner who installed the bathroom didn’t use the proper materials behind the shower,  my concern is that they used regular drywall or what some call gypsum boards, the wall will be ripped out and brought up to code with waterproof panels. There are signs that lead me to believe drywall was used throughout.


The tub will be replaced with a shower enclosure.  This was a big deal for me. I have no idea how long I will be able to live here and with this being the only bathroom replacing a tub with a shower base could making renting the house more difficult.  Yet, as time goes on lifting my legs over the edge of a tub gets harder.  My son vetoed my concerns for the rental value and the shower base I need is going in.

For the moment I’ll continue to use a shower curtain but before I have the grandchildren for extended stays I’ll install sliding doors. At the moment I’m being partly stingy not wanting to spend more money while the other part of me wants to plan for any surprises we might encounter that could push the cost of the job upwards. When I do this is the style of sliding shower door I will use with the oil rubbed bronze finish. It will complement the dark cabinetry on the opposite side of the room.


The floors… I had dreams of hexagon tiles, or sometimes called penny tiles that would tie in with the period of the house. Tile would have added considerably to both the cost of labor and time to complete the project.  I do like the ease of transition from one room to the next by having used the same flooring from the kitchen through to the living room and opted to go with the same flooring Trafficmaster Allure Laminate planks.


I decided on a Gray Travertine pattern instead of the cherry used in the other rooms to better highlight the dark cabinetry.


This cappuccino is much more pleasing and rich looking than the maple they originally were. I used Rustoleum Cabinet Restoration kit left over from my son’s kitchen to update them. Here’s the cabinet in the original maple finish, and yes, the hardware is the same on both cabinets, see how much it pops with the darker finish?

maple cabinet

Finally, the toilet will be replaced with a high rise model that will eliminate the need for an extra riser to make this handicap height for ease of use.

Thinking all was set and the contractor hired my son threw a wrench in things when he called and asked if I’d considered a shower stall (half the length of the existing tub).  That was one option I hadn’t considered. After sketching it out and considering how that layout would work I rejected it and stayed with the plan above.

Keep your fingers crossed that we don’t run into any more problems than what I’ve tried to anticipate.







  1. I am so sorry to hear you are having such serious plumbing problems. It sounds like the previous owner had no idea how to do the job correctly. I hope your handyman with do it right this time. I’m not sure if that is a shower stall you have there or a shallow tub. I would be thinking you would have something with easy access to it. However the finishes end up, it’s of no use unless the it’s properly put together. I hope all goes well for you. Hugs, M


    • You have no idea how little the knew about construction. We’ve had to reinforce the beams in the roof over the kitchen, attach the deck to the house although we should have rebuilt it because they put no supports on the ends or corners of the deck, the only supports are several feet inside the perimeter of the deck, and the list doesn’t end there. Add to the mistakes they made the fact they rented the house while living out of state this place was a mess. Thank goodness the original portion of the house was built well and only needed cleaned and to have their diy projects removed.

      Yes, that is a shower base we are putting in that is the same length as a tub. This will allow someone else down the road to easily convert the shower back to a tub if they want.

      I procrastinated long enough on this bathroom, it was time something forced me into action.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I call people that build that way “the weekend Budweiser crew.” They are usually drinking on the job and have no training. The place my son is redoing is like that. I’m glad you are getting it done.


        • That must drive your son batty. Don’t get me wrong I do my fair share of experimenting to see what I can do and what I can’t but if it came to adding an addition on to my home I would look for help before taking any chances or having all these mistakes.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the darker colour of the vanity..and WOW, showing those two pics together, with same hardware REALLY showcases how much better your choice looks.

    glad you are getting a walkin shower…
    some things I have seen in home reno shows, and I wonder if you might benefit from…

    – a (for you) sitting level built in seat in the shower…believe me if you ever sell/rent this to someone else, this would be a good feature for the woman to sit on and do her leg shaving
    -copious hand holds/rails built in, so where ever one might need to grab, one can
    -one of those snake showers thing s (sorry, just cant get the right name), where you have one shower installed at your sitting level, with a hose on it and taps. You can have a second regular height shower head / taps for company. In fact though, the one I suggest for you would be great for your grandkids.

    I have seen some renos for persons in wheelchairs, where they somehow work the bathroom floor/shower area such that the person can take a shower wheelchair (again, sorry cant recall if there is a proper name, just that it is different than a regular wheelchair), and roll right into the shower area

    looking forward to what all is re done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I already have a shower head with the flexible hose I can take down and love it! The only way to put a built in seat into the shower would be if I moved the drain and all the plumbing to the other end of the tub, next to the toilet. If I put the bench back by the toilet I wouldn’t be able to get in the shower without difficulty and probably assistance. I still think I should have moved the plumbing and drain but was being a tight wad with the money. 😦

      Yes you are right, there are shower chairs that wheel into the shower and shower chairs that don’t wheel in, I have the latter.


    • A lot of great ideas here, I thank you for doing this for others who may read this post.

      I had never seen the portable shower and found that really interesting, something to keep in mind should I move one day.

      I seriously considered putting in a shower that had a seamless floor to the rest of the bathroom but it would have cost more to build, taken way more time but the main reason I decided against it was because of how small my bathroom is. When I get out of the shower/tub, I need a dry rug or bathmat there so I don’t slip with such a narrow space for the shower I was concerned it would result in wet rugs and possible falls on a wet floor.


  3. I don’t think you should worry too much about the impact that replacing the tub with a shower will have on rental appeal, because it seems to be the “in” thing these days. Seriously, I keep an eye on the ultra hot real estate market here in Denver – just for curiosity’s sake – and a huge percentage of the hoity toity new condos that are going in have shower stalls but no tubs. It’s almost considered an “amenity” these days. There are even remodel companies with ads on TV saying how getting rid of the tub and replacing it with a walk in shower will improve the value of your home.

    Now, for me personally, having a tub is a non-negotiable thing – I don’t feel human if I don’t get at least one long soak each week. But obviously, I’m in the minority!

    Anyhow, I hope it all goes well, and that you soon have a bathroom that you can truly enjoy. 🙂


    • My sister replaced her tub in the only bathroom in her house and when she tried to sell it the agent told her she’d lost value by doing so. She had several people who said they would have bought the house if it had a tub for the children. I wonder if it’s a geographical thing. Here if all you have is one bath then a tub is expected. If you are lucky enough to have a master suite, then a shower only is expected in the suite and a tub in the other bath.

      Just as my son was going to meet with the contractor to pick up all the supplies his wife insisted I wanted a tub to bathe the grandchildren. While it’s true the younger two will still need baths because my granddaughter isn’t good at washing her hair and doesn’t like water running down her face and her brother just turned two so showers are out. But to solve that I will use one of those big totes for storing stuff and fill that as their tub inside the shower.
      The final deciding factor came down to me. While I am still able to use my arms to lift my legs over and into the tub, how long will that be possible? I opted to plan for my future needs and make accommodations for the children now.


    • I have never been a tub/bath person. Having been a tomboy and getting really dirty outside the idea of sitting in a tub full of my filth never made me believe I could be clean.

      How are you adjusting to your condo? Have you sold the townhouse?


  4. We are in the middle of having the master bath remodeled in our new house right now because the toilet and shower part were very cramped. I totally understand about all of the choices you are thinking about. While we are in good shape now, we plan to stay in the house for a long time and are looking to the future. We are having a shower only (I never take baths) with a bench built in. We will be adding a couple of grab bars–one at the door and one near the bench. BTW, I don’t know if you’ve looked at what’s out there now, but they have all kinds of grab bars. Some are quite attractive and some are attached to soap dishes, corner shelves, etc. We will have a low flush, higher seat toilet. Unlike you, I don’t have definite ideas of what I want. I don’t have a vision and making all of these choices are driving me crazy like the color of the tile and shower door.

    It sounds like you don’t have a choice, but since you have a leak, I would gut the whole room and start over. We had had a small leak in the shower of one the bathrooms we redid a couple of years ago. When they took out the old tile and shower pan, they found the largest nest of carpenter ants they had ever seen. And we had no idea they were there. Good luck with everything.


    • This move must be stressful for you with remodeling one space and getting ready to sell another. Do you have a second bath that has a tub? That’s my big dilemma, what if the perfect tenants have small children but want a tub to bathe them in and all that’s here is a shower. There is only one bathroom in this house and no where to put another. In the end I figured it wouldn’t cost that much to pull out the shower and add a tub if that’s what my son wants to do down the road and one of the reasons I opted not to put a smaller shower in – keeping the layout for a tub.

      There is something going on in this house because I have fruit flies all year round. I’ve cleaned the drains frequently, so it’s not that they are living there. I’m thinking gutting the kitchen will finally resolve that problem. I do hope I don’t find carpenter ants like you did.


  5. Gosh Lois, I think you’ve handled this really well – your advance planning was really useful! I’m with the other commenters who say you don’t need a bathtub, only a shower. Far more practical, you’re absolutely right. Also the idea of a seat and flexi hose are great ideas. I think you’ve done an absolutely fabulous job so far – well done!


    • Hi Clare, I’m still torn on the tub versus shower. In this area people still want a tub to bathe young children and being a three bedroom house with only one bathroom I think it might affect who lives here after me.

      I do have a flexi hose already but will probably stay with a removable seat for now as I already have one.


  6. Oh Lois sorry to hear you have had more problems, Water getting under the tiles are no joke.. but maybe this is a blessing in disguise so that you can get to use your shower more easily.. It is a pity you can not turn it into a wet room.. I know it would be far too expensive.. But I remember when my late aunt had her bathroom turned this way how it helped her when she found it so hard to walk.
    We who are able take all of these simple things so much for granted. So I hope it is all soon sorted for you xx Love Sue


    • Sue, I would love to have created a wet room but they are both pricey and time consuming to build as you know. Maybe the next house. 🙂 The guys are here now working on the bathroom, they think it will be done tomorrow which would be wonderful.

      You might get a laugh out of this. The contractor showed up with his crew, which is himself and four other guys thinking they could get the job done fast. He walked in, laughed and realized that at the most only two guys could work in that small room at a time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL, yes that made me smile Lois.. And yes I know how pricey the wet rooms are.. Working in care work as I did, they are wonderful to wheel clients in there and use. I hope your building work is soon completed with minimal mess for you xx


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