Monday, July 20, 2009

Renovation Existing Tile

When renovating a bathroom, most home improvement sites and books will recommend completely ripping out all the fixtures and tiles and updating everything. They say that you will usually recover the cost when you resell the house. That’s fine if you can actually afford the thousands of dollars in demolition and replacement. Many of us don’t have those resources. And with the current housing slump and home values having dropped dramatically, sinking thousands into a renovation may not pay off.
I have updated both the bathrooms in my home without replacing all of the tile. I have redone just portions of it. I did it myself, and it does involve some delicate precision and hard labor. I’m not sure tile contractors would like my approach either. Hiring someone to do this work may not be easy as they most likely feel it’s easier to tear it all out and then cover a clean flat wall.
Easy doesn’t always mean best for the environment. My approach is to preserve as much vintage tile as possible and to add as little as possible to the waste stream. Where does all that old tile end up? Probably a landfill. Maybe if it were being recycled for some other use, it wouldn’t bother me so much, but most of the time, you see large amounts of construction waste just packed up into dumpsters and trucked away.
Here’s what I did with the 1st renovation. We had broken tile on the windowsill, some edge tiles at the floor that were cracked, a broken ceramic wall mounted towel rack and worn out ceramic soap dish and toothbrush holders above the wall hung sink. After removing the sink, we also found holes through some tiles and cracks in others.
I loved the 50-year-old tan speckled tile but knew I probably wouldn’t be able to match it. The room had black edge tile, so I had to come up with a pattern to insert black tile to fill in the spaces where I removed the broken stuff. It required placing black tiles where the new towel bars would attach to the walls, black tiles on the new windowsill and a few rows of black behind the sink. It also involved preserving at least one tan tile to fill in a spot where one towel bar was removed. Getting tiles off in one piece is the trickiest part & mostly comes down to luck.
Here’s a few links on how to replace a broken tile…,,20051584,00.html

perhaps I’ll post more about my own repair work at a later date as this is already getting too long winded.

1 comment:

  1. that looks great! i agree with your approach totally. i am currently house-hunting and i wish more people left original tile (and even original fixtures) in bathrooms; so much of the 'upgrade' stuff is just so awful! the sink is beautiful too.



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