Modern Bathroom Blog

From design ideas to cleaning best practices, the Modern Bathroom Blog provides tips and tricks for creating or maintaining a beautiful bathroom.

Bathroom Demolition: How to Remove Old Vanities

Before you can remodel your bathroom, you’ll have to demolish it – this includes removing existing vanities and fixtures so your bathroom is prepared for the facelift you’ve always dreamed of. Whether you’re a total novice or somewhat of an expert, it’s important to take the time to demolition the right way – after all, a successful demolition isn’t about who can swing the hammer the hardest. There is a process to the demolition phase and it requires a plan and lots and lots of patience. Here are some tips for demolishing your existing bathroom without creating extra dust.

Have a Plan

Before beginning a demolition, you should either rent an industrial-sized dumpster or a truck to haul the debris to the landfill. Be prepared for tons of dust and grit, as removing plaster and tile will cause quite a mess. If your vanities and other bathroom fixtures are still in good condition and you feel guilty tossing them in a landfill, you may wish to consider donating them to organizations like Habitat for Humanity – they’ll get a second life in someone else’s home. If you’re working with a hired team, let them know about your donation plans ahead of time so they won’t damage or trash them upon removal.

Collect Tools & Supplies

Whether you plan on performing the demolition yourself or with a hired crew, you’ll need the following tools and equipment in order to perform the demolition properly: sledge hammer, utility knife, wheel barrel, large shovel, shop vacuum, heavy duty gloves, face gargles, face aspirators, duct tape or construction tape, screw drivers and wrenches, old towels, a large bucket, and high intensity light.

Although you’ll have to buy most of the above items, some of the larger tools, like wheel barrows and sledge hammers, are available for rent. Before renting, compare the purchase price and the rental price. In some cases, it may be cheaper to buy the tools and either sell them in a yard sale or save them for later use.

Turn Off the Water Supply

Before beginning any demolition job, think about what household elements you’ll be dealing with. Water? Gas? Electricity? All of the above? In the case of bathroom demolition, it’s important to turn off the water supply. Before removing a bathroom vanity, turn off the water supply below the sink by twisting the hot and cold nozzles. Turn the handles the opposite of their current position, and test both faucets to ensure the water is turned completely off before you move forward with removing the vanity.

Next, you’ll want to unscrew the supply lines that flow from the piping in your wall to the faucets. You can do so by wrapping a wrench around the nut that connects the line to the faucet and turn it until it becomes loose enough to unscrew by hand. If your home has copper pipes that have corroded over time, spray a plumbing liquid lubricant into the joint before beginning the process.

Remove Drain Pipes

Disconnecting the plastic piping that connects your drain to the hole in the wall is one of the easiest parts of a bathroom demolition and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. If you’re having trouble with turning the pipe connectors, try using a dry rag to get a better grip. If you’re dealing with a double vanity, the job is still simple but you’ll have to disconnect both before trying to pull apart the sink. Once the drain pipes have been removed, you’re ready to remove the vanity and cabinets.

Vanity Countertops & Cabinets

If the countertop is attached with silicone caulk, you’ll have to use a utility knife to loosen the countertop where it attaches to the cabinets. In some cases there are clamps securing the bathroom countertop, which can be removed with the appropriate tool. Once the bathroom countertop has been lifted, discard of it in an appropriate area. Now that the countertop is off, it’s time to remove the cabinet. Using a screwdriver or screw gun, remove the screws. Once the screws are removed, you should be able to remove the bathroom vanity.

After removing the vanity, cap off the drain pipe to prevent sewage gases from escaping into your home. Either push a large rag into the drain pipe or use plastic and tape to cover the opening. Now that your old bathroom vanity is removed, you’re ready to install your brand new bathroom vanity.

The Best Plants for Your Bathroom

Whether you’re looking for an innovative way to add color to your bathroom or are seeking clean-air solutions, bathroom plants are a natural way to bring life and clean air into your home. Although the minimal natural light and high humidity in bathrooms aren’t ideal for some plants, there are a lot of houseplants that thrive in your bathroom’s tropical conditions. In order to choose the best houseplant for your bathroom, you should consider the environment your bathroom offers: some plants thrive in low light, while others may require lots of space. Here’s a list of popular plants you may wish to incorporate into your bathroom décor, along with the ideal conditions and basic care of each.

Aloe Vera

Widely grown as an ornamental plant, Aloe Vera is a succulent plant species suitable for a bathroom environment. If you buy a plant that’s already established and add water only after its soil has completely dried, Aloe Vera should be extremely easy to grow. Although Aloe Vera prefers bright, sunny conditions, the plant can burn under too much sunlight, making it an ideal candidate for the bathroom. An added bonus: Aloe Vera can be used to treat minor abrasions and burns. Simply snap a leaf, and squeeze the juice directly onto minor wounds. The extract will moisturize and speed up healing time.

Snake Plant

Tolerant of low light levels and irregular watering, the snake plant is a popular plant for the bathroom. Although the plant is considered by some authorities as a weed, it’s widely used as an ornamental plant both outdoors in warmer climates and indoors in cooler climates. A study performed by NASA ranked the snake plant as one of the best plants for improving indoor air quality – the plant passively absorbs toxins such as nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde from the air. Ideal for those lacking a green thumb, a snake plant is one of the hardest plants to kill, and prefers to be watered every 7-10 days.

Orchids

This beautiful, tropical plant will produce brightly colored flowers that are sure to liven up even the dullest of bathrooms. Although this plant can be difficult to cultivate and may die in other areas of the home due to dry air, the humidity of the bathroom creates an ideal environment for this plant to thrive. With over 20,000 species, orchids are one of the largest families of flowering plants. Since all orchids are perennial herbs, you’ll only get to enjoy them for part of the year, so keep that in mind before purchasing an orchid for your bathroom.

Spider Plants

Characterized by long shoots of thin foliage with off shoots at the ends of many leaves, the Spider Plant is one of the easiest houseplants to grow. Spider Plants only require light watering, and will only need to be watered once every two weeks. Although Spider Plants prefer natural light, they should not be placed in direct sunlight and should be removed from sunlight if their leaves turn brown. If the plant is kept within five to eight feet of a window, it should thrive in a bathroom environment.

Hanging Plants

Although hanging plants aren’t a specific type of plant, hanging plants are very popular and appreciated among those who grow plants in their bathroom. Hanging plants above the bathtub or from a hook on the ceiling is a great way to add greenery to your bathroom without taking up too much space. Ideal for bathrooms low on space, you can experiment with hanging plants and find interesting ways to display them in your bathroom. If possible, find a way to hang the plants in front of a window where they’ll be exposed to the most natural light.

Note: Many houseplants are poisonous to children and pets. Please research any houseplant before incorporating them into your bathroom.

Black is the New Black: How to Incorporate Black into Your Bathroom

Although black is not a favorite for use in home interiors, it can be an amazing idea if executed properly. When applied wisely, the color black can transform your bathroom into an elegant, dramatic, and trendy room. By incorporating black into your bathroom you’ll have the unique opportunity to create a room that’s the perfect mix between drama and elegance. Keep in mind the following basic rules and you can creatively use the color black when decorating your bathroom.

Use Black to Add Depth

One of the biggest misconceptions about using black is that it can make a room look cramped and small. While including black into a person’s outfit can make them look slimmer, black in the bathroom can actually add depth and make the room appear larger. One way to ensure your bathroom doesn’t look cramped as a result of using black Is to be mindful of how you’re incorporating the color – if you don’t have a large bathroom, consider only painting one or two of the walls black. If you’re still worried about using black on walls, consider opting for a black tiled floor or accent pieces instead.

Don’t Forget About the Lighting

There’s no denying that black works best in bathrooms with a large window and lots of natural light. If your bathroom doesn’t have large windows or is completely lacking natural light, you can still incorporate black by paying attention to the lighting. By adding contemporary light fixtures or a large mirror into your bathroom, the reflective surfaces will help light bounce through the room. If you’d really like to take it to the next level, consider installing a mirror with surrounding spotlights.

Don’t Feel Restricted

When incorporating black into the bathroom, many homeowners may feel restricted to painting the walls completely black. While this can work well when executed properly, it’s not the only solution. For those a bit less adventurous, there are a lot of fantastic wallpapers incorporating black and white patterns. Additionally, chevron stripes using two different shades of black can be a great way to add black to the bathroom without going overboard. Finally, don’t be afraid of experimenting with different textures. The use of materials like stone, granite, and slate can work brilliantly.

Consider the Ceiling or Trim

One more substitute for black walls or black floor tile is to paint your ceiling black. While ceilings are typically painted white, there is no great cause or reason for this. A black ceiling is a great way to draw attention upwards, and can make a bathroom look very chic and cohesive, especially when combined with black accent pieces, like rugs on the floor or knobs on the bathroom vanity. For those a bit wary about black ceilings and walls, coloring the trim and other accents of the bathroom in black is also a unique and interesting style statement that carries far less risk.

Classic Color Schemes

Black, when incorporated with white, is a classic color scheme perfect for virtually any size or style bathroom. One of the best things about this color scheme is that you can hardly ever go wrong with it – the color combination has survived centuries and has never seemed to go out of style. Whether you opt for the classic black and white checkered tiles or black and white striped wallpaper, you’re sure to enjoy the classic black and white color scheme we’ve all grown to love throughout the years.

The Basics of an Eco-Friendly Bathroom

As a homeowner, you’ve probably put some thought into how your bathrooms fixtures (and your daily routine!) impact the environment. The bathroom tends to use more water, chemicals, and paper products than any other room in the house and, as a result, is often the first stop on the path towards creating an eco-friendly home. “Going green” in the bathroom is a great way to save money, conserve water, and avoid the health risks of using cleaners loaded with harmful chemicals. Whether you’re in the market for a complete bathroom overhaul or are looking for a few easy fixes, here are the basics of an eco-friendly bathroom.

Water-Efficient Toilets & Showerheads

Did you know most toilets account for approximately 30 percent of household water consumption? Although low-flow toilets often come standard in newer homes, older toilets can consume up to eight gallons of water with every flush. According to the EPA, a high-efficiency toilet can save a family of four nearly $100 a year, in addition to working wonders for the environment. If you don’t want to invest in a brand new low-flow toilet, you can retrofit your existing toilet by installing an efficient flushing handle.

Many homeowners falsely believe that by installing a high-efficiency showerhead they’ll be singlehandedly decreasing the water pressure, which is not the case. Most models won’t affect water pressure, and some even filter or eliminate traces of chlorine in the water. On average, traditional showerheads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute, while water-efficient showerheads use 1.5 gallons of water per minute, or less!

Consider Ceramic Tiles

For those considering a complete remodel, ceramic tiling is the way to go. Ceramic tile isn’t easily damaged by moisture, and some can even be made in a low-impact manufacturing process. You can find environmentally friendly tile by looking for words like “post-industrial” and “post-consumer.” Tiles that fall under these categories are often manufactured from recycled bottles and car windshields. Additionally, keep an eye out for paints with a low volatile organic compound (VOC) label; these are less toxic and are verified to have no negative effects on your indoor air quality.

Switch to LEDs

If you haven’t already made the switch to LEDs, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. Now, thanks to enormous strides in technology, consumer can now find “warm” LED light bulbs, which will create the same cozy color produced by old-fashioned light bulbs. Switching to LEDs is one of the easiest ways to save: not only will your energy bill be noticeably lower, but you’ll be replacing bulbs far less often. On average, LED lights consume 80 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

Clean with Homemade (and Eco-Friendly) Products

Multiple studies have shown that conventional cleaning products can be detrimental to both the planet and your health. If you’re looking for ways to clean your bathroom safely and ecologically, a bit of baking soda mixed with vinegar is all you need – sprinkle baking soda on problem areas, add a little white vinegar, let it foam, and scrub the area down with a sponge or brush. Those interested in masking the vinegary scent can add lemon, their favorite essential oil, or rosemary.

From bath towels to toilet paper, chances are everything in your bathroom can be purchased more “green.” By purchasing certified organic products, you can rest assured knowing your bathroom routine will have a lower environmental footprint and the items used will be safe and healthy for your body. These products also have a larger global implication – they often use natural ingredients sourced from fair-trade organizations; so you’ll be supporting ethical business practices as well.

Execute Water Saving Practices

Saving water and helping the environment doesn’t have to be as complicated as replacing toilets or installing ceramic tile – it can be as simple as limiting showers and monitoring water usage. By taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth or shaving, employing the “yellow-mellow-brown-down” toilet flushing method, or saving water in buckets while waiting for it to heat up, becoming eco-friendly can start with mending the habits and daily routines of you and your family.

Common Plumbing Questions: Answered

As a homeowner, it’s only natural to have plumbing questions. While some plumbing problems are quite complicated and may require the expertise of a professional, many issues are minor and can be fixed with a bit of time and elbow grease. Not only will homeowners who understand the complexities of plumbing be better prepared to make the best decisions when a plumbing problem arises, but they may be able to take care of the problem themselves.

Q: What are the most important plumbing tools to keep at home?

A: The most well-known tool is the plunger – an essential tool that should be found in every household due to its usability and effectiveness. It can be used for unclogging toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs. Next on the list is a hand auger, which should be used for difficult clogs. With over 25-feet of steel cable, the hand auger is capable of handling clogs a plunger can’t. Finally, a wet-dry shop vacuum, though not strictly a plumbing tool, can be a lifesaver in the case of a flood. If a broken pipe or appliance has flooded a room, getting the water up as quickly as possible with the vacuum can mean the difference between saving a floor and having to completely replace one.

Q: How can I increase my water pressure?

A: Typically, issues with water pressure can be attributed to a volume or flow issue. A restriction in a line, or having a line that’s too long or under sized, could be the problem. If a pressure gauge is installed, you can check the pressure yourself. Water pressure in most households should be around 50 PSI. Look at the gauge with all the water off, and then once again when the water is on full. If the pressure is okay until you turn the water on, then it’s a flow problem. If the pressure problem only happens to a particular faucet, it might be possible to improve the pressure by cleaning the faucet or installing a new aerator on the end of the spout. Over time, faucets can clog and reduce the flow.

Q: How can I avoid frozen pipes?

A: If the pipes in question are exposed to an unheated area (garage, basement) or are outside, the pipes should be wrapped with foam or some type of insulation material and bound with electrical tape. If you can get your hands on electrical wire heating wrap, this will keep the pipes above freezing even in very cold weather. If you’re concerned about pipes within a wall, you can poke small holes through the wall and cover the pipes with insulating foam. If the pipes are totally inaccessible, leave a trickle of water running– this will warm the pipe slightly and slow down the freezing process.

Q: Is there a difference between hard and soft water?

A: Yes, and the difference can be damaging to both your home and your body. Hard water is water that contains a noticeable amount of dissolved materials, like calcium and magnesium. Soft water is treated in such a way that the only ion present is sodium. If you’re experiencing damaged clothing after laundry, excessive soap consumption, pipe scaling, deterioration of faucets and fixtures, or undesirable odors or tastes in your water, you may have a water problem. In addition to improving soap lather and removing soap scum, using a water softener can have financial benefits as well. In homes with water softeners, energy bills are noticeably lower and, since appliances don’t have to work so hard, the lives of washing machines, dishwashers, and water heaters can be prolonged.

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