Often times I can walk into a bathroom of any age or style and immediately spot the small things that tell me if the bathroom was remodeled the right way or not. The giveaways...
Tile abuts fixtures, casings and baseboard. Talk about looking like crap. The grout usually looks messy and when the wood shrinks from seasonal changes, cracks will start to show. Not to mention that the baseboard looks even smaller due to the reduced height. And don't get me started on tiling in a vanity bottom instead of going under. If someone wanted to change the vanity at a later date due to a style change, or if it was damaged, they would be stuck trying to match the exact footprint of the old vanity.
Beadboard paneling installed over the drywall. This is another save-a-buck detail that drives me crazy. The paneling is usually so thin that it the bead detail is minimal and yet applying it over the drywall flattens any window or door casing profiles. The proven way to install beadboard wainscot in a bathroom is to remove the drywall from the wall and apply the beadboard directly to the studs. This allows you to install a true beadboard and also keep the profiles/shadow lines of the window and door trim intact.
Tub or shower base is spongy. Just about every tub or shower installed over the last 40 years has been installed without regard to proper support under the base. I can step into and immediately feel if the base is properly supported or not. It has give and feels bouncy. The correct way to install the base or tub is as follows:
1. Replace or upgrade the subfloor with new and or additional plywood. 2. Nail down wire mesh under the base or tub foot print. This is to help keep the mortar in place. 3. Mix and pile mounds of structural mortar over the mesh. 4. Bed the base down into the mortar and confirm that it is level. 5. Install temporary blocking around the rim or top to keep it from moving as the mortar cures.
Doing the above ensures that when anyone steps into the tub or shower, there is an absolute feeling of solidness. Yes, doing this while installing the tub or base is a pain and takes more time and money and it's worth it.
Cheesy soap dishes or alcoves. This detail absolutely drives me crazy. Here is a picture of a tiled bathtub surround with a molded soap dish just slapped into the wall. Not only does it stick out like a large pimple on your forehead, they placed it right in the middle of the accent tile row. Down. Right. Ugly.
Shower Doors. Framed shower doors should be banned period. Not only do they look cheap and feel flimsy, the frame provides the perfect landing spot for soap residue which provide a breeding ground for mold. Frameless doors are easy to keep clean and really take the overall look of your bathroom up a couple of notches.
Over reliance on caulking. Caulking when used right has it's place in the bathroom. It keeps joints closed when a house moves due to seasonal changes. It directs water where you want it such as around the outer jambs of a shower door. However, I've walked into bathrooms where the caulking looks as if it were troweled on by the gallon and there is usually black mold growing by the minute.
These are some of the things to spot in a poorly constructed bathroom. In my next post, I will write about the details that make a difference in building a bathroom that looks fabulous for years to come.