If you read my previous post on DIY Bathroom Redesign you will know that we didn’t really have a choice about replacing our bath because it leaked and water went through the ceiling! Not being able to afford to plan a budget for the bathroom (because there was no way we could save that amount at once in time) my husband assured me that it was possible to do it a bit at a time, just needing to save reasonable amounts of money to do so. If I am honest we could have done it even cheaper but time was also a factor for us (as my husband hadn’t done it before, was doing it on his own, and I am quite a time-demanding wife and like to spend lots of family time together!) – and so we often ended up buying things from B&Q when we could have shopped around and possibly got things cheaper. B&Q are pretty good and had most things we needed though. The whole project has possibly taken us a little over a year – and we have also had what we pretty much wanted (so again some things could have been got cheaper).
Bathroom on a budget, over time with a family
In this post I have written about what we did, why we did it, and the order we did it in since my previous bathroom post (when I say we – I did pull off a few tiles, make an unwanted whole in the wall, and weigh the bath down!). We only had our bathroom to use, and for the most part we were a family of 6 (and then 5). The only time things were really difficult is when there was no bath/shower at all – but luckily the kids have swimming lessons and we washed there (I took my swimming costume and jumped in the showers too!). My husband did all this by just thinking about things and/or using Google – we no way knew what we were doing, and take no responsibility if you copy us and it goes wrong – but this is what we did. We bought things as we went along – but this does mean that our bathroom isn’t from one “suite.” Also have an idea of what you want might be better because for us we did need to find money for things unexpectedly – but still a lot less than trying to do everything at once. It also meant we could get rid of waste materials at the home recycling center (aka the tip) in our car – although our bath was made of steel and that, the toilet and sink were taken from our front garden before we had a chance to load them in the car!
The Budget Bathroom Process
After the extractor fan was installed my husband decided to start with stripping back the paint on the woodwork and repainting all the frames. This meant that he could still use the bath to clean up after glossing. Before applying the 2 layers of gloss, 2 layers of all-in-one knot block wood primer & undercoat were applied, the radiator removed and the ceiling painted: This was because we had read a lot about working from top down, the light was also replaced for a square one.
The tiles were taken down to a level which meant that the bath could still be used (with a couple of rows to allow for splashes from the children). Then the old shower was taken out. More tiles were taken down but a hole was accidentally made in the wall (due to the way that the tiles had previously been secured, oh and because I was “helping”). This was fixed by using new plasterboard. This was protected whilst further work was done by covering it with our old shower curtain.
Due to the size of the bath we needed we had to wait for delivery (as we could only find a square one for the unusual size online). Therefore, to make the best use of time, the door was replaced whilst waiting. Our previous door opened into the bathroom, using up a lot of space – we replaced it with a folding door. This needed painting and installing.
The time crucial stage
The stage where the bath was removed was the most difficult for our family, and when my husband needed the most amount of time to crack on and do things. That is because our shower is over the bath and taking it out meant we only had the sink to wash in. He thought carefully about what he needed to do before he started this stage and it was the only point whereby we needed to make sure we had enough money for the materials we needed to complete this stage.
The old bath was taken out and the wall flattened behind it. We had gone with my husband’s Nan to B&Q (shhh discount for the over 60s) to buy our taps. We got ones for the bath and sink at the same time so they would match. Whilst we were there we actually agreed on some tiles so figured that we may as well buy them whilst we were there.
The Tiling of the Bathroom and Problems we Incurred.
We had already ordered some pre-mixed `tub’ adhesive is which works by reacting with the air. The problem was that if the tiles are larger than 300mm in height or width, then the adhesive behind the centre of the tile will not react; therefore will not secure part of the tile, and as a tile gets larger it gets heavier, which meant that it would probably fall off in the not too distant future. The problem was that our selected tiles were 200 x 500mm so this meant that we had to get the adhesive that you mix yourself: This type of adhesive works by way of chemical reaction with the water, and therefore sets without air, the main issue with this is you typically have less time to work with the adhesive before it starts to set – but this is compensated for by working in small-ish areas at a time.
Building a Wall to Support Larger Tiles
Whilst trying to find out what the best notch size for our selected tiles my husband found a forum that detailed how you work out the weight tiles + grout per square metre, and what the limitations of plaster & plasterboard are in terms of weight capacity. This was when he learnt about the use of cement board, as they are impervious to water (i.e. water does not cause them to degrade) and have a high weight per square metre capacity.
The brand of cement board we used was Knauf AquaPanel. The panels are 12.5mm thick and cannot be fixed directly to plaster/brick/breezeblock wall. My husband therefore stripped the plaster from the wall and took it back to the breeze block, so that it gave me a nice flat surface to fix the frame to (as removing the tiles had completely trashed the plaster). This also meant being able to set the frame back an extra 13mm (ish) as the plaster was no longer taking up space. He then used 22mm thick timber for the frame so that it again would reduce the amount of room taken up. As the room is a high moisture area, he used treated timber. The weight issue was also why he did not plaster to the ceiling on the plaster wall in case any tiles fell off.
Holes were then made in board for where the shower needed to go and then the boards were ‘tanked’ with ‘tanking solution’ (which essentially water proofs them). In the kit you also receive a roll of ‘tanking tape’ which is used to cover any gaps between the boards etc. Before applying the tanking solution, the walls, boards were primed, which stops them being so absorbent.
New pipes were fitted for the bath, it was plumbed in and weighted down with water, before tiling around it. This is so that it did not “sink” and they would be in the wrong place. There were leaks at the joints when plumbing in the bath, but Jet Blue Plus (a jointing compound) really helped with this.
Tiling started with the second row up above the (length of the) bath – with a plank of wood underneath them (measured to get it in the right place) to support them. This wall was then tiled all the way across and up. The same second row/plank of wood method was then used on the wall where the shower goes, and finally the wall by the bath taps. Tiles were then grouted, the shower plumbed in (we opted for a square shower as opposed to a power shower) and the shower pole put up. We had originally considered a shower screen but this wasn’t as practical as I would like for the boys getting in and out of the bath, more difficult to install and a lot more expensive! We got a white and see-through shower curtain because it had squares and it went with our theme. Not as practical as we would like as obviously this lacks privacy if someone is desperate for the bathroom – but we decided that this was a very rare occurrence so not really an issue.
After this stage was done we could just leave it and save again. The stages after that could also be done when there was time.
The Bathroom Sink
We had gone for a sink with a square vanity unit around it (as well as a square sink to match our theme) – this meant that we could tidy away our bathroom things without them being all cluttered on show. The pipes were tidied up at this point so it was important that the sink was in the right position: My husband had decided that it would look best centred – in hindsight this meant there was no longer enough room for a wash box in between the side of the bath and sink. We did find (a square) one that would fit but it cost £120 and arrived broken! I sent it back and did not order another one as there was no way it would have been big enough to hold our dirty laundry. The tiling was then done in stages around behind where the sink unit is first. Then the toilet was temporarily removed to tile behind it, before being permanently plumbed in. Although we were working top down, obviously it was easier to put the floor down before securing the sink and toilet in. We had agreed on a white laminate flooring – which my husband also knew how to put down as he has installed this type before. The window sill was also tiled at this point.
Painting the Bathroom Walls
Next the rest of the bathroom walls were painted with emulsion. How much to tile and where to paint was something we talked about a lot and considered. Even with it being white we did not want to make it feel smaller – but also aware that we have small children who like to get things wet! This was before we even knew about the weight issue with the tiles – and with that added in it was decided that it was best that the tiles didn’t go too high up. As we had already decided that we wanted a mirror cupboard (to store things and be able to use the mirror!) there was only one place it could really go and that was above the toilet – so it made sense not to tile that area. I had always wanted a chrome towel radiator so that was installed when the walls had dried. A problem that happened when fitting the radiator was that the pipe pulled out and flooded the floor. It turned out that this was because it as a chrome plated pipe and it needed tightening more than a normal copper pipe.
The Final Stages to the Bathroom
Now the bathroom was really looking the part and much different from the start. The last few things were sorting a bath panel (we wanted one that could be opened as the end of the bath slanted meaning there was lots of waste space underneath – we decided it would make good storage), boxing in the pipes (which were then treated and tiled) and making sure the stainless steel effect tile trim (as my husband forgot when originally doing the tiles by the shower) and floor edging was finished
Bathroom Finishing Touches
The final bathroom finishing touches were to decide on what went into the bathroom. The white laminate floor also has white markings so our bathroom is white, black and chrome. We found white and black bath mats which my husband reshaped the toilet mat so that it was square. To go with the shower, taps and radiator I got chrome square toilet brush holder and bin. We use liquid soap and never have put it in a dispenser and the toothbrush pot now lives in the cupboard. We decided to go with white towels – but actually all being the same colour is a nightmare and no good for grabbing for the beach!